Saturday, March 26, 2016


Paul Behnke, Mini-Corsair, 2015, acrylic on canvas, 18 x 18 inches repost of my article.

What makes a good or even great piece of abstract art piece made today. Creating non-objective art is still relatively new compared to representational art, so many of the rules are not completely clear. For me, engaging compositions is usually a good way to start evaluating the works. Determining if the marks appear to be gestures to decorate the image, or thought out expressions that are attempting to solve balance and unity in the picture. The lines are blurry and with the ever increasing glut of abstract artists out there, it has become increasingly hard to see who is being thoughtful and who is playing to the trends.

Kirk Hopper Fine Art has entered the fray with an offering of abstract artists that declare themselves separate from the current scourge of abstraction, zombification. Art critics, like the rest of the culture, has become fascinated with the concept of zombies. In art, zombie paintings tend to look like decaying walls, sometimes black and white, but generally undistinguished from one artist that made a painting to the next. I have seen a few artists in Dallas that have been bitten, but it is not Zombleland out here. However, I have seen an over abundance of colorful works that are like twinkies, all cream filling with little nutritional value. Opening this weekend is Kirk Hopper Fine Art’s show titled We Are All Dead which is neither filled with zombies or twinkies.

Cande Aguilar uses good practices to keep her abstract paintings fresh with inclusions of collage, vibrant color schemes, and enjoyable compositions that keep you looking at the picture. Nothing dead about her work. Paul Behnke make flatter paintings, but with larger areas of color that Aguilar. His colors look like something out of a spring festival. The colors are alive and his shapes play off of each other quite well.

Back in 2009 at HCG gallery, I was reminded a little bit of Dick Wray’s abstracts when looking at Valerie Brennan’s work. Maybe because I still remember that space and I want to see a connection or just the way the two artists create compositions, but I felt a kinship there. Mali Morris reminded me a bit of David Reed. The smearing effect is his thing, so it is hard not to see his influence on Morris. When it comes to Brain Edmonds, quilts and textiles come to mind, rather than any particular person. His informal geometric shapes combine into patterns that reflect ideas represented by the first abstract artists, quilters.

Karl Bielik’s paintings look to be experiments that might or might not be inform by another painting. I have seen this approach before, where the painting sometimes fails in part and yet successes as a whole, because so much is tried and covered up and other solutions are found. This back and forth approach makes for some lively abstractions.

The show includes artists: Cande Aguilar, Paul Behnke, Karl Bielik, Valerie Brennan, Brian Edmonds, Mali Morris, Sabine Tress, and Pier Wright. Kirk Hopper Fine Art will be opening this show of abstract art on the 5th of March 2016. They are making an argument with this show, but I encourage you to debate about what makes good or great abstraction in painting at the opening. Maybe we can flush this idea out some more.

No comments: