Toenges, Tollens and the love of paint

Michael Toenges and Peter Tollens,” Patricia Sweetow Gallery, San Francisco, CA. Through Feb 23.

German painters Michael Toenges and Peter Tollens, in thrall to the hedonistic, fleshy qualities of paint itself, explore different positions from the big, pluralistic manifesto of abstraction. In the San Francisco Chronicle, Kenneth Baker reports that the love of painting may come down to a love of paint itself – for viewers as well as practitioners. “The very different works of German artists Michael Toenges and Peter Tollens at Sweetow invite us to test this proposition. Many of Toenges’ recent paintings, like those he has shown here before, investigate overload, while Tollens’ hover close to the zero degree of the art. Toenges heaps his paintings on wood, even those that are only a foot square, with so much succulent pigment that, viewed frontally, they look like billows of paint levitating by sheer surplus of aesthetic richness…. In contrast, Tollens’ work goes to extremes of asperity. He offers a few pieces treated in so spare and deadpan a manner as to make us wonder whether he picked them off the studio floor. Rather than work on panels or canvas, he applies paint to bits of scrap wood. They tend to be small, almost pocket-size, but vary considerably in dimensions and shape.” Read more.

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