LA painters work like there’s no tomorrow, er, I mean yesterday

In the LA Times, Christopher Knight (the art critic, not the former Brady Buncher) tries to make a case that LA painters have revived the medium that New York killed in the Seventies because they don’t have to contend with the historical baggage. “Unlike New York, Los Angeles never had an established reputation as a painting town. That might help to explain the abundance of painting now: Without history’s heavy baggage, the field seems wide open — ripe for the picking….Today actual painting is a staple in gallery exhibitions from Santa Monica and Culver City to mid-Wilshire and Chinatown. And paintings made by L.A. artists are everywhere. Lots of them are by younger artists, under 45. When California’s deep recession of the early 1990s eased, galleries exploded across L.A. Now they number well into the triple digits. The number of painters, promising and accomplished, has likewise mushroomed. Painting — of all kinds — is as prominent as any other art in the city’s galleries….Usually it’s just one person in a room, with a flat plane and some colors, trying to juice the corpse and make it dance. That’s the real legerdemain facing anyone determined to be a painter, whether the student who asked the original question gets the support of her teachers and peers or not. Painting isn’t dead — or, more precisely, it always has been and always will be. The perpetual trick is to give a painting life.” And don’t miss the slide show that accompanies the article, “45 painters under 45,” if you want to see what kind of paintings they’re showing in LA.

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