Yes, of course painting is alive. I never believed it dead despite the official prognostics and the orchestrated proclamations of “history writers”. Painting does not make the show, when the show is the requested and probably – rather surely – does not win the subsidies. It takes courageous curators to propose paintings in any context. The 55th Biennale of Venice does have painting works, even if chosen in the spirit of “encyclopedic romanticism” and presented as “curiosa”!
Two powerful presentations of painting can be seen in the “Encyclopedic Palace” the main exhibition at the Italian Pavilion: the works of the Belgian Thierry de Cordier, b/w oil paintings of sea-scapes, mostly in vertical synthesis. He paints the North sea at its darkest, in a classical way and avoiding any glamour; he paints on mdf or scruffy canvasses. His works are almost out of place, too good to fit in.
Equal amazement comes from an artist happily present in her nineties; her oil paintings can not pass un-noticed (…); Maria Lassnig from Austria, calls her works “body awareness paintings”, a series spread in the last 60 years, depicting her body as she experiences it. The works are of large format with a lightness of colour and simple straight forward drawing. See also here about a current big exhibition of her works in Hamburg.
There is much more painting around; only toward the Chinese exhibitions there are meters and meters of painted surface; a look on that will be noted separately in this blog.
P.S.1 Paintings that do not correspond to an idea of grandeur or triviality fall under “curiosa”, in case we were wondering…
P.S.2 It crossed my mind: now that state subsidies drain out, painting is again proposed as acceptable art form (since at least it is a sellable object?)