by Vatsala SethiDec 26, 2022
When technology evolved, digital art gained prominence in the art sector, and some began to suggest that traditional paintings would no longer be seen the same way. Fortunately, the traditional art of painting was not wiped off the face of the planet, but innovation led to new media discovery. Artificial Intelligence, mixed media, sound art, light art, and many more became leading examples for artists pushing the boundaries. Today, the art world and the art market are bold, vivid, and enigmatic, with limitless opportunities for immersive experiences. The Painter's New Tools, presented by New York-based Nahmad Contemporary, surveys the range of artistic innovation. The art exhibition, organised by Eleanor Cayre and Dean Kissick, looks at artists who are pushing the frontiers of what painting may be by combining software, CGI, code, artificial intelligence, printers, tablets, phones, and other image-making technology to develop new methods of manipulating paint and painting without the actual use of paint.
The exhibition aims to make the viewers ponder upon the thought that, if they awoke today after sleeping for 20 years, they would discover that the physical world had not altered significantly. Viewers would note that in this brand new world, how everyone is always gazing at their phones and how photographs are everywhere. How everyone is creating, recreating, and communicating through pictures; and in some ways, have transformed themselves into images on screens. A critical juncture in history, pictures mediate your perception of the world, which increasingly takes place within the graphical realm of those images. It is quite disorienting. This has altered the way people think about painting: how can you produce a distinct picture in the face of so much imagery, so much distraction, and is it really important? What are the painter’s new tools, and what can be done with them?
Many of these works are created in collaboration with or by machines. For decades, painters have attempted to mimic the effects of light with paint, but today they can sketch with pure light, on canvases lighted from within. Great art represents the era in which it was created, as well as the changes that occurred at the time, via its form, content, medium, and philosophy. It not only represents its time, but also helps to keep that time moving.
The Painter’s New Tools presents works by Ei Arakawa, Darren Bader, Kerstin Brätsch, Alex Carver, Kate Cooper, Aria Dean, Harm van denDorpel, Urs Fischer, Wade Guyton, Kate Mosher Hall, Rachel Harrison, Camille Henrot, Tishan Hsu, Jibade-Khalil Huffman, Jacqueline Humphries, Alex Israel, Jesse Kanda, Scott Lyall, Helen Marten, Ezra Miller, Julien Nguyen, Albert Oehlen, Laura Owens, Seth Price, Richard Prince, Rachel Rose, Sarah Sze, Tojiba CPU Corp, Jessica Wilson, Jordan Wolfson, and Anicka Yi.
The exhibition space features an array of artistic mediums. The artists don’t limit themselves to just traditional painting mediums but involve a variety of media. From LEDs, hand-dyed fabrics, epoxy, honeycomb, digital screens, and gesso to UV-print on aluminium, and more, the viewers are taken aback in an entirely new way. The exhibition organisers feel that now is the time for art to convey how it feels to be alive today, as well as how much our perception of reality and irreality has changed. Paintings that investigate how new aesthetics and experiences might be created. Given the plethora of routes opened up by modernism and contemporary art, as well as the numerous new technologies of the 21st century, the options available to an artist today are significantly larger than ever before.
The Painter’s New Tools runs at Nahmad Contemporary, New York City, United States, till September 24, 2022.
(Text by Vatsala Sethi, Asst. Editorial Coordinator (Arts))