“There is nothing more difficult for a truly creative painter than to paint a rose, because before he can do so he has first to forget all the roses that were ever painted.”
- Henri Matisse (1869 – 1954)
Vito Schnabel Gallery is pleased to announce Jorge Galindo and Julian Schnabel: Flower Paintings, featuring recent works by the Spanish and American artists who last exhibited together in Madrid in 2011. This will be Galindo’s first presentation of works in the U.S. in over five years, and his second collaboration with Vito Schnabel Gallery; Galindo’s work was included in Incubator, Vito Schnabel’s first exhibition as a gallerist in 2003.
Opening May 22, Jorge Galindo and Julian Schnabel: Flower Paintings will be on view through July 9 at the gallery’s 455 West 19th Street location.
Jorge Galindo and Julian Schnabel first met in Madrid. Their lifelong friendship developed while Schnabel was teaching a workshop at the Círculo de Bellas Artes in 1991. Over the last three decades, through their related visual languages of emotive and gestural painted surfaces, and through their embrace of material experimentation, they have become like-minded contemporary peers, great friends, and venerable admirers of each other’s work.
Galindo will present a new group of large-scale paintings of flowers created between 2020 – 2021, which further his formal exploration into reproduction, and printed and painted compositions of floral imagery. His visceral marks in paint animate the traditional still life motif, pushing the realism of a 17th century Dutch flower painting into the realm of abstraction. The subject matter first appeared in Galindo’s oeuvre in 2009, inspired by a floral still life by Henri Fantin-Latour that was reproduced as the cover art of the English rock band New Order’s 1983 album Power, Corruption & Lies. Galindo returned to the subject of flowers in 2019, in a collaboration with the Spanish film director Pedro Almodóvar. Combining elements of painting, photography, and collage, he enlarged a series of Almodóvar’s still life photographs as the ground for new paintings, which the duo realized together — applying paint with brushes as well as with their hands and feet. This ongoing exploration continues in his recent series.
Since the early 1990s, Galindo has been collecting old postcards and painting over them, either on small canvases or on piles of found and torn advertisement papers. For several of the new paintings on view in the exhibition, including Souvenir (Good Year For the Roses) II and Souvenir (Bouquet), the artist uses enlarged postcards. Stained with paint from years of use in the studio, these vintage florals and rural pastoral country scenes populated with churches and barns, are overpainted in large, thick, undulating swaths of lush and jubilant color. In other works on view, Galindo relinquishes the printed ground in favor of a blank white canvas, brought to life with loose, unrestrained brushwork and a brimming dynamism that reflects the artist’s physical process of painting. Galindo’s expressionist marks– splatters sprays, and strokes of yellow, pink, and green– attest to his unrivaled skill as a draftsman of the painted stroke, as well as a colorist and a master of composition.
Julian Schnabel will present Victory, a new series of flower paintings initiated in the fall of 2020, on the day that Donald Trump lost the U.S. presidential election. Titled Victory in homage to this historic defeat, the optimism of these works is inspired by the exquisite beach roses that grow wild in the artist’s driveway in Montauk – pink blossoms that thrive among the dense thickets of viridian green foliage and trees. At face value, the roses on plates might bear a resemblance to the roses near Vincent van Gogh’s grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, which Schnabel painted in his first series of Rose paintings made between 2015 – 2017. In these latest Victory paintings, the dark abyss is filled with a cerulean blue sky that replaces the ashen cemetery wall against which those roses in memoriam grew.
The woody shrubs of Schnabel’s Victory roses perform as a slice of nature that has been exhumed and as a fragment of themselves, embodying the whole of that nature and channeling the expanse of his large-scale works. The undergrowth of their form is not only composed from the physical reality of cracked plates and broken shards of crockery, but a depth of field nuanced by black, green, yellow, and all permutations of light hitting fragments of paint and shards and leaves. Physical and pictorial become one, indistinguishable from each other, as matter and paint unite. Schnabel’s unconventional, idiosyncratic use of materials has been a defining element of his oeuvre that has affected the climate of new painting since the late 1970s. The artist’s sui generis use of ceramic shards was inspired by his encounter with the mosaics of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí in Barcelona in 1978. As Schnabel has explained, “I wanted to make something that was exploding as much as I wanted to make something that was cohesive.”
The dialogue that transpires between Galindo and Schnabel through their works on view ultimately moves beyond the theme of flowers to confront questions of contemporary picture-making, the assertion of the sheer pleasure of painting and profound respect of two friends that happen to be painters.
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