2/27/2006

Tom McGrath

72 comments:

bob ross said...

kinda schticky.

Anonymous said...

Feels a little like Peter Doig, who I love.

I like painting said...

A little Bob Ross, a little Doig and a little Cecily Brown

I love painting said...

A little Bill Alexander?

w.w. said...

I remember his 2002 show at LFL, before they moved. I really loved his paintings of views through car windshields. He's a talented painter. My only criticism is that sometimes his palette gets a little chalky.

frogger said...

the fluidity of his approach works well when depicting objects in motion - this one's a little static for me. I like the paint passages in the trees, the cars not so much. i miss bob ross - artist's today have such boring hair. bring me the happy trees and bushy 'fro!

mountain man said...

Oh that's who he is, the LFL guy from the old days...I loved that windshield show too. Havent' seen his work in a long time, I thought the smeared cars looked familiar. There is definitely a cheese factor, but in a good way, I think. The world is asmear, in liquid perma wind-shield wiping flow. I miss Bob Ross too. Sometimes catch him in reruns, his voice could not be more soothing.

tough guy said...

I can't really figure out what this work is about besides gimicky paint handling and i've looked at quite a bit of it. it's like dutch subjekt matter with the italian fixation on the one transformative biblical moment, only the source of the perceptual shift is not apparent in this picture. is it supposed to be drug induced?

in that stuff from 2002, the perceptual device was the distortion that can occur while driving in the rain. so now we've pulled up to someone's mom's house in conn. and what?
does anyone else think that the static nature of this painting ould be caused by the halting of painting devices that can propell narrative?

mountain man said...

You mean that there is no more moving car on a wet day, so why should the smearing and swooshiness continue?

Anonymous said...

Tough Guy makes a good point.

frogger said...

well it could be that he's gone beyond using paint as a descriptor of natural phenomenon and has taken a broader subject such as the mutable nature of reality. anyway i don't think an artist's intentions have to be so plainly spoken - that's one of the charms of painting.

tough guy said...

yeah, that's what i mean exactly MM. and furthermore, can we hold this artist who obviously is invested in finding interesting methods of moving paint to being a bit more specific with his palette of brush strokes?

tough guy said...

i hear what your saying frogger but i think this painting is way too illustrative to fulfill that ambition. i think he already knew how he was going to approach the paint handling and for that reason, i am disappointed. i think he has two choices, one is to be more specific with the content and the other is to be more experimental with the form. a mix of both would probaby be best.

w.w. said...

good points. and maybe it did start with a rainy windshield and progressed into across the board distortion. but is that less serious an investigation? i mean, what was soutine doing? i'm not sure we always have to link a formal device to conceptual premise. looks to me like mcgrath is showing us how he sees things. this is not my favorite image of his, but i think he's interesting overall, a paint mover, and not gimmicky.

Anonymous said...

no way. soutine drew and handled paint based on his sitter or still life. not what this guy's doing. this is farther from soutine than a grateful dead poster.

pattern recognition said...

a brushy picture of a car next to a house
what do you think the relationship between this and that previous painting of similar imagery have in common?

tough guy said...

point well taken mm, but something doesn't bode well with me. i think that they could be more inventive and in general, i would like to see tom not rest on his laurels.

w.w. said...

i'm not comparing his work to soutine's - i am making a case for distortion as a formal device that need not be held to some pseudo-conceptual standard.

Anonymous said...

yeah, thinking sucks.

w.w. said...

i guess you think there's no work to do with paint itself, that it can't signify on within its own descriptive language. i agree that mcgrath's choice of subject matter does not always resonate - but to assume that he plans to distort an image in a certain way (and then to reduce his process to what...execution of a device?) seems pretty shortsighted to me. the awkward restraint in areas bothers me, and his handling is weird at times, but he's getting at a seasick affectedness... the time warp idea, suburbia as another fucked up dimension.

frogger said...

tough guy- you bring up some valid criticisms. i'm more in ww's camp - i don't feel as strongly about the shortcomings. ww's statement regarding distortion is right on, sometimes paint can just be paint -although there is definitely a formal strategy at work here. some of the areas are programmatic, such as the cars and buildings, and they weaken the overall image.

mountain man said...

I like your take WW, but agree with Tough Guy that the initial works make such a case out of using paint splatters and smears under the express rule of rain and windshield. So the same painterly moves read differently when that set up is taken away. The question is, does the handling stand up on its own merits, is this other-dimension quality you mention really coming across as convincingly as it can. I think that is a valid point. Doesn't necessarily mean that all artists across the board are forbidden from using painterliness and distortion to serve narrative ends - it just doesn't seem as clear in this image. But I think your time warp, unreachable suburbia reading feels right.

Anonymous said...

This is my first time to see this blog. My teacher recommeded it. It is a great discussion of this painting. Is his painting being shown in the city so I can see it live? Thnak you.

w.w. said...

yeah, true, yet i read the distortion and painterly moves as less interesting when there was a setup, and more conclusive now that he's using them without such obvious context (or genesis, or whatever). that said, i think we agree that this is one of his weakest images!

zipthwung said...

"... the time warp idea, suburbia as another fucked up dimension."

Donnie Darko? It fits you know, because Donnie Darko paints like he allready knows what's going to happen, but Darko includes weird stuff like jet engines, which reminds me of every goddamn photographer younger than 40 almost, it seems like.

But also, who hasn't been in this situation? So in a sense it communicates directly. What were you feeling when you pulled up? Hungry? I allways feel awkward, because you just cant reach intot he refrigerator because it's not your house. And you know they have some good cheese and crackers - look at the... Saturn...Taurus?

tough guy said...

hey ww,
i actually agree that hypothetically, the painting moves here would be more interesting without a direct correlation - as a tool of abstration, for sure. i wasn't necessarily lobbying for a more rigorous relationship between form and content, i just want his approach to be pushed into a new space. the one that you suggest, using the paint for the sake of an experimental investigation seems apt. i just think he has got to push it further.

agreed that this is a weak image. also i'm not so interested in the subject matter. it seems too external. like "suburbia" as opposed to exploring the qualities of such in a visual way.

Anonymous said...

isn't he kinda doing something similar to jin meyerson?
another Feuer-ite.

triple diesel said...

I commented elsewhere on the similarity between Jin Meyerson and Tom McGrath. Namely, they both employ distortion that almost seems to come from a Photoshop filter. TG uses more substantial brush strokes, though. And JM has a more classical sense of pictorial composition.

Anonymous said...

Tom make collages of photos he takes in the car to get a base for his effects, I've been to his studio a bunch and never seen a computer or a photoshop print out. He's an unreal colorist, the 2002 stuff was chalky, but in the 2004 show the colors were very clean and intense. I think the photos on the zf gallery web site make them a little grayer then they are in person.

exu said...

kinda like that Gillian somebody who was short listed for the Turner prize-dystopic sunday painting-isitgoodisitbad-the tension between those poles is the subject?

Anonymous said...

sorry if this link is tedious
here is a canadian artist who has been making exactly tom mcgraths kind of work since 2001. she is also a one trick pony, as is he

http://www.douglasudellgallery.com/dynamic/fr_artwork_display.asp?ArtworkID=285

Mountain Man said...

I don't think he's a one trick pony.

Anonymous said...

okay well he's a pony, he can sit, maybe trot a little, maybe tap numbers with his hoof. he's definitely not someone you're going to be reading about in the canon

Anonymous said...

okay well he's a pony, he can sit, maybe trot a little, maybe tap numbers with his hoof. he's definitely not someone you're going to be reading about in the canon

Anonymous said...

okay well he's a pony, he can sit, maybe trot a little, maybe tap numbers with his hoof. he's definitely not someone you're going to be reading about in the canon

Anonymous said...

What is the canon. Who is in the canon. You may be right but come one. There's always hope, there is always a small door open to anyone to be admitted into the canon. Such sweeping judgments and generalizations based on so little!!!!! Take it easy.

the canon said...

Respect me, bitchez!

zipthwung said...

yo, I'm a one trick poney and I will steal your shit, because thats my trick.

Now that that is over, please show me some more tricks.

BTW I am a big fan of freeways and tailights. I don't think that stuff is the same really, unless you group all the ab exers together and shit like that. Is Keith Haring the same as Kenny Scharf?

See how I referenced something entirely different? Difference is overarted.

Does Steven King own horror as a genre? I don't think so. I mean hes ok for a gross out or some porn, or is violence and porn the same? See what I mean?

Dude right here crops his paintings differently than I would. That in itself is interesting. More interesting than the ripple filter he applies with his mind or with photoshop, I cant tell really, but it looks like a photograph w/ water on the windshield.

Is that a midlife crisis Fiat in the middleground?

C'mon bitches, gimme some action, I'm going bald here.

Anonymous said...

the canon will not be kind to many of the painters blogged about here.

the canon said...

I will crush you all with my sleeper hold!

Anonymous said...

will anyone on this blog be remembered by the canon? \

Professor Mouth said...

'The canon said...



I will crush you all with my sleeper hold!'


Best. Post. Ever.

Anonymous said...

Canon!
http://www.jeffreyhein.com/welcome.html

the canon said...

The Canon doth not look at websites, mortal!

Anonymous said...

whoa
what's a sleeper hold?
these paintings:: zzzzzzz. oh! excuse me?! i was sleeping. who cares about windshield spatter and tree distortion. this is like a twist on realism, a really uninteresting cul de sac about virtuosity and who can paint w/ a tool the best.
what is AT STAKE in these paintings?
not much. it's like a little twist of lime in a drink. just a variation on an old theme of representation and MOOD, the mood being slight distortion, to signal: what? drugs? disaffection? alienation? it just seems like boy tech-head tool stuff with a bit of druggy distortion. is it asking interesting questions? not for me.

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous above. The paintings want to be liked, hip, cooly-distanced-yet-passionate... Actually, I don't see a problem with that. Most paintings want to be liked, and these do the job very well.

I don't see any connection with Doig. They're landscapy, but that's about it as far as a connection. I'm not contradicting previous posters -- rather; please post a URL of a Doig painting that relates to this, so as to educate me.

everybody's a critic said...

to the anonymous right above me:

You need to relax buddy. This is "painting" we are talking about, not open heart surgery. To answer your question: not much is at stake at all. McGrath is just dude smearing shit around on some cloth. You probably are too. So finish your little nap, wipe the drool off your chin and go back to the studio instead of posting idiotic rants on blogs.

As for the canon, well it rememebres people for all sorts of wild and crazy reasons. An sometimes it even forgets people who had the canon all up in their asses. At any rate you can be sure the canon isn't too kind to bloggers who paint in their spare time.

everybody a ctritic said...

For the record sommebody slipped in their comment before I published my comment. It was directed to the anon above them.

Dennis Matthews said...

Jin Meyerson is a badass. I haven't ever seen anything that even comes near his perfecting sense of composition and technical ability. Feuerite? The gallery is showing very talented painters despite poorly crafted rumors circulating on boards accusing them of culturing these artists into similar painters who use just the right colors and form development to sell their work to a public mass that is only interested in good, bright colors and little pictures that don't have to tell you something. Run on yes, repetitive no.

Anonymous said...

to everybody a critic, Thanks for your politeness (i'm the anon above anon) and I agree with you. When it comes down to it, art's 'stakes' are pretty silly in comparison with what's happening around the world as we speak, in respects technological, cultural, political, historical... As 'stakes' go, MOST other human activities have MORE at stake than the activity of contemprary painting (translated, there may be a reason to chill out from all that romantic 'rage') Perhaps this elusive 'Canon' is the outragous misbelief that we actually 'matter' to the world-at-large, historically, culturally, or otherwise, when in fact we (painters) don't (relatively speaking)! That said, I DO enjoy reading such passionate missives on this blog -- it's invigorating and entertaining, and it reminds me painting does in fact move people-- if only a priveleged minority.


I'm still wondering what Doig has to do with McGrath.

And I agree that Jin Meyerson is a badass, and it seems he's moving away from photoshop.

Anonymous said...

bzoring. make some work losers

Jarhead said...

Listen just because people spend some time each day perusing and commenting on blogs doesn't mean it takes all day and they don't have a million other things to do. I am so tired of this perception. If you weren't blogging you'd be picking your butt or something. You'd be watching tv, talking to your friends, staring into space or something. Before blogging, tell me no time was ever wasted. But I don't think this is a waste. We are all becoming better typers - hey the faster you type, the less time wasted - and some of us are sharpening our verbal skills and abilities to see what an artist is up to really fast - like a doctor diagnoses an illness.

So maybe all the work posted isn't brilliant - but we at least should give it and the artist the courtesy of describing what they are trying to do, the best we can, and then decide if they are successful or not. I think this blog can be super constructive - it depends how you use it.

Anonymous said...

to everybody's a critic: i'm the anon you were talking to and i still dont see what's so FUCKING wrong with saying that i dont think tom mcgrath's paintings amount to much. and why we cant ask painting to take a stand, have a stake, or let us know what it's pushing on. why cultural production, if that is what we choose to spend our lives doing, should be ANY way less important than anything else that is done in this world. i think it's offensive that you come off to hostile to someone who is asking art to tell what it's about or to ask it to raise the bar or just to say a paitning isnt INTERESTING.

Anonymous said...

i meant "so hostile" not "to hostile"

Anonymous said...

i meant "so hostile" not "to hostile"

everybody's a critic said...

hey buddy, re-read your first post. you're the hostile one. if you're going to come out swinging, the least you can do is take your slaps stoically. I don't see McGrath crying like a baby.

Anonymous said...

i'm hostile to the idea that painting doesnt really matter much and so anything is ok--

tough guy said...

we have to continue to demand a high level of experimentation and output within the medium of painting. the moment we settle, we are really guilty of just making easily consumable things to hang over the couches of rich people. i believe that we have standards for painting but they do not have to be intellectual, necessarilyy. instead we should trust our instincts. we should spend time within the uncomfortable places of our imaginations.

and everybody's critic, this is me getting up in your face. let's see if you take your slaps stoicly because what you are advocating is IDOTIC. your statements are antipainting, antiintellectual, and anti discourse.

lets move on said...

nobody is fucking saying that painting doesn't matter. what this critic is saying is that to judge McGrath, or anyone else for that matter, on the basis that "nothing is at stake" is an idiotic and subjective statement. It's a scapegoat excuse for anonymous douchebags who can't actually come up with the intelligent formulation of a thought. Now I wouldn't normally take offense but it was said with a particular arrogance and lack of style.

everybody is a critic said...

hey wind bag, I mean tough guy,
Did you ever notice that most paintings hang over couches? They populate more hames than museums. You make d.e.c.o.r.a.t.i.o.n.s. Get over yourself.
We live in an age when our capacity to "read" visual information is at an all time high. Most video games are more interesting that the guck people call "art". You are advocating some elitist bullshit where truth and meaning actually mean something. I know evrybody out there is going to freak out at what I'm saying but the truth is that art is actually this really humble thing that all civilizations just happen to make. It's a byproduct of humanity. Like shit. People love it and dote on it. And think it's the greatest fucking thing since sliced bread. But it's ultimately just a snapshot of what that society was thinking. You know what this society thinks about? Paris Hilton, Prada, sex and money. We are getting the art we deserve.

tough guy said...

just because painting is a snap shot of what some people in the society happen to be thinking, does not mean that it should not have integrity and a commitment to exploration. i can't believe you but there are so many hypocrital marxist/bourgeiose just like you out there. you people are totally getting it wrong - because you feel frustrated that art can't change the world. in case you haven't noticed, large sweeping gestures like revolution and "shock and awe" only lead to more confusion about what it means to be an individual with an imagination. your vision of the present is incredibly bleak. i am saying that art in general can be a place that thoughtful , intelligent and emotional people utilize to work out whatever probelms they deem necessary. i have no prescription for subject matter or methodology but i will not stand for you devaluing this activity. it is important. you should fuck off and go back to the whitney program. you cynical scumbag!

cynical scumbag said...

first you call me anti- intellectual and anti discourse then you resort to sending me back to the Whitney program. Nice, that makes no sense. I'll take being a cynical scumbag over being an idiot any day of the week.

you said:
"that art in general can be a place that thoughtful , intelligent and emotional people utilize to work out whatever probelms they deem necessary."

You just about described every artist I know. So what's fucking problem?

ps: the present is in fact very bleak. open your eyes.

jesus said...

the present is what you make of it.
i'd rather be an idiot than a cynical scumbag.

tough guy said...

yeah, actually, you shoud go back to the whitney program because aparently you didn't really undertand the reading. if you are going to be on the side of the marxist elites, you need to redo your homework and bring your argument against painting up to date.

THE PROBLEM is that YOU SAID that not much is at stake in painting and I DISAGREE, i think that the territory of the imagination is at stake and this is incredibly important especially if we are going to come to terms with the times that we are living in and not resort to the apathy generated by cynacism.

And you ARE anti discourse because you came on attacking someone's attempt at discourse and desire for painting to solve problems - the problems created within its borders. and that is what this blog is, a forum for discourse. So to quote a cynical scum bag, why don't you "finish your little nap, wipe the drool off your chin and go back to the studio instead of posting idiotic rants on blogs" unless you are too much of a pussy even for that.

zipthwung said...

I allready have an MFA, but I didn't study the marxist superstructure or anything. I was more into imaginative play jung, and flow and stuff. But now I've been highly politicized by my steady diet of beans and pasta. I need sushi. Will the Whitney program help me to re-enchant my life with more sushi?

Anonymous said...

Everybody-is-a-critic's statements --as anti-painting, anti-intellectual, or anti discourse? Come-on, tough guy, I think you're an idiot in reducing what he was trying to say to mere sloaginistic hyperbole. The original point was to relax and see painting as a more humble activity than you take it for. Really now... "he territory of the imagination is at stake?"... What are you from a 19th century Zola novel?

Anonymous said...

he wasn't saying much, anon, you gotta admit. i'm another anon and i think that a lot of artists are afraid to be serious about things like the imagination. they're afraid of being thought of as stupid or hokey, or worsem they don't want to be caught trying to defend something that is irrational. maybe the critic suffers from this ailment too. sounds like he is afraid and so are you.

Anonymous said...

Good painter from the wrist down. Boring rich white boys usually don't have much to say...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous
he's not rich, he only finishes a few painting a year. did tom beat you out for the lfl show, is that why you are pissed?

Anonymous said...

I'm referring to the usual quasi Connecticut boarding school blase attitude towards life.

Anonymous said...

that's ridicoulous. how can that be about painting? do people who grow up in trailer parks make better paintings? come on already.

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