Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Squeak Carnwath: Painting is no Ordinary Object.

Recently I have come across some artists that are new to me, and one that really interests me is American artist Squeak Carnwath. I first saw her paintings here and was intrigued, so I decided to do a little research.

Her career began with an interest in ceramics, and she gained her MFA in 1977 with high distinction but a few years after graduation she began painting and this has been her main focus for the past 30 years. I think it was the squares and the patchwork nature of her paintings that initially attracted me, on closer inspection the paintings are heavily laden with symbolism, words, numbers, record discs, Greek urns, money and rabbits all have special meaning. I especially like the way everything is done in paint even the words written onto what look like pieces of lined paper are all oil paint.
The following interview from 2009 was made to coincide with a major exhibition organized by the Oakland Museum of California, PAINTING IS NO ORDINARY OBJECT. In the video she talks about art making as a kind of self making, a journey of self discovery, and that she likes to be afraid when starting a painting, she loves not knowing what she is going to do so that she can follow any path. This is a really interesting video and you get to see her applying paint to canvas which she does in many layers, and if you watch it on full screen you get to see how beautiful these paintings really are.

I also decided to send for the catalogue that accompanied the exhibition, published by Pomegranate it covers her early career and has some really good essays and good full colour reproductions of her paintings, and traces the development of her distinctive style.

On her website there is a page of online resources with links to some good essays and to galleries that show her work. I also found some paintings that had been made into tapestries and these can be seen at Magnolia Editions which have some fabulous images. Her latest work will be on show at the James Harris Gallery from June 7th to July 7th


  1. Replies
    1. Yes really fascinating, and I love the video the paint looks so gorgeous, I have lost count of how many times I have watched it!!

  2. That was a nice 7 min tea break - thanks for posting the video. Love the idea of a guilt free zone - i may paint myself one of those!

    1. I agree Clare, we could all do with a guilt free zone!!