A press release from Von Lintel Gallery (LA, formerly New York) announces a new Mark Sheinkman show. Sheinkman makes swirly black and white marks with a 3D spatial illusion. The release begs for some interrogation, so here goes:
Von Lintel Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings by New York artist Mark Sheinkman; the artist’s eleventh solo show with the gallery spanning a twenty plus year history.
Sheinkman has expanded the role of additive mark-making in his latest paintings which no longer include graphite.
Shouldn't removing one of the materials make the work subtractive, rather than additive? Also, why mention this at the outset? Was the graphite causing the canvases to be more archivally fragile -- shedding off the surfaces, staining collectors' floors? It reads like a product blurb ("now graphite-free!")
The direct application of oil and alkyd paint and a more clearly evident brushwork has resulted in gestures with a wider range of characteristics.
So, removing the graphite from canvases previously made with "oil, alkyd and graphite" was not due to archival considerations but to widen the characteristics of the brushwork and make the markings "more clearly evident." How -- or why -- was the graphite retarding the paint application, so that it was dropped as a material after 20 years of use? Inquiring minds want to know.
In many of these paintings, he has so entirely entangled the marks that the layering is ambiguous. This complicates the implied depth and introduces a snap of tension between spatial illusion and the painted surface, opening up a range of potential for formal exploration and art historical associations.
Sheinkman’s process is flexible and fluid, and allows him considerable leeway to react and change course, Sheinkman says, “the process is what’s engaging because you’re paying attention all the time. Restrictions open up all kinds of possibilities.”
If the process is flexible and fluid, how is this a "restriction"? Possibly the restriction refers to the removal of graphite from the painter's arsenal. One could still wonder how this makes for a more open-ended process. The artist's page at Von Lintel hasn't been modified yet and mentions the graphite aspect: "Sheinkman builds up his canvases and drawings in layers, working into graphite to create a visual effect of curvilinear forms moving through space." So the graphite was part of the ground, and somehow important in the creation of the 3D illusion. Yet the paintings with no graphite also have these depth illusions. Something in the material held the artist back -- was it more abrasive? Absorbing? By removing it, he can now make qualitatively better 3D illusions. Good to know, if still somewhat obscure.