These two paintings are by New Yorker Josephine Halvorson, and they’re in a show called “The Big Picture” at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. gallery in New York. They were painted as quickly as possible, in front of their subjects – a tombstone and a chalkboard. What I particularly like about them is how much they feel like direct records, almost as though the canvas had been pressed right against the stone or a tracing had been made of the board. The surface of the painting seems to stand in for the surface that’s being depicted. And yet despite the one-to-one impression they give, Halvorson felt no need to achieve a full trompe-l’oeil effect, or to use the invisible brushwork we associate with it. In our post-painting age, the broad brushwork of expressionist art seems to have achieved an almost neutral status, so that it can be used to point straight at the world, without making any comment. Crude paint has simply become a language that things get recorded in.
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