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Painting is Easy

Michael St John, Walter Robinson, Duncan Hannah, Karin Davie, Shirley Irons, Sarah Davis, Brian Lynch, Emma Jaeger, Andrew Tarlow

November 4—December 3, 2023
Opening Reception November 4

105 Main Street
Falls Village, CT 06031

Text by Millree Hughes

In painting, the right gesture can turn a crude mess into a coherent whole. Accuracy is put to one side in favor of showing the action of painting. Whatever can help to communicate the whole thing all at once.

As Karin Davie says about her painting in this show, “the marks aren’t completely ‘off hand’ or imply what some might describe as de-skilled, but I think they’ve got an interesting combination of being both direct and confident, but also casual and unfussy.”

Everyone is always telling me how hard painting is and of course it is. But I don’t think it needs to look hard. ‘Easy’ in this show can also mean sacrificing finish for experiment. In 2008, Sarah Davis made oil paintings of paparazzi photos from tabloid magazines, and later reinterpreted those subjects as pared-down pastel works on paper. In this case, one could say the study came second.

And what could be ‘easier’ than letting AI make the painting? Walter Robinson’s new work relies on the results of AI prompts. He either hand-paints the generated images, or prints them onto canvas to create bizarrely original and compelling works.

Michael St John’s portrait of Emcee from Cabaret is from a series painted from movie stills. He doesn’t render the painting as if it was a photographic reproduction, but uses quick and expressive strokes; he’s doing painting.

We think of this look of ease as a very American way; like a nimble boxer or improv-ing actor. In painting it can look like a representation of quick and confident thinking. This show is about that approach.