Selected works by Amy Sillman

Amy Sillman
Ich Auch

2009

Oil on canvas

230 x 215 cm
Amy Sillman
Cliff 1

2005

Oil on canvas

183 x 152 cm
“Painting is a physical thinking process to continue an interior dialogue,” Amy Sillman states, “a way to engage in a kind of internal discourse, or sub-linguistic mumbling…”. Amy Sillman’s canvases offer glimpses into a subliminal world. Strangely intimate, her abstractions negotiate a space of both ideas and feelings, inflected with an emotional empathy. “In Cliff 1, a family of mallards is camouflaged between a field of daisies and a bright orange shape that is beginning to dissolve, like a jet’s vapor trail. Striped drapery and a painterly tangle of pastel pinks and baby blues add to the atmosphere of cheery beginnings.” David Pagel. Her paint techniques mirror the convergence of unconscious thoughts: rock rendered with the chalky texture of rubbings, sunset as violent deep orange slashes, birds and flowers with cartoon folly. Amy Sillman paints with a sense of intuitive immediacy, attempting to purposefully broach the fragmented territory of affect, of embarrassment and awkwardness, conveying a sense of experimentation and discovery within her pensive gestures.
Amy Sillman
Cliff 2

2005

Oil on canvas

183 x 152 cm
Amy Sillman’s work is highly intuitive; her rich, colourful paintings flow with a stream of conscious expression. In her canvases, forms effuse in disjointed rhythm, colour has the weightlessness of pure light. The delight in Sillman’s work is in the complexity of her
application. “In Cliff 2 the bright orange polygon in the middle of the painting rhymes beautifully with an angled slab of black, some blue cartoon clouds, a messy expanse of loosely painted flowers and a swatch of flowery fabric. Two pairs of long legs, which belong in a kid’s stick-figure drawing of a couple of ducks, descend from the picture’s top edge, suggesting even goofier goings-on beyond its border.” David Pagel. In her study of how to express the totality of something, she becomes absorbed in the semiotics of painterly language itself: thick impasto mixes readily with sly dabs and drizzles, radiant hues and hurried gestures appear in their own space and time. Amy Sillman’s composition suggests private thought that is simultaneously whimsical and brutal.
Amy Sillman
The New Land

2005

Oil on canvas

198 x 167.5 cm
Reminiscent of cubist painting, Amy Sillman’s The New Land creates a landscape of fragments, where shapes and colours converge as independent forms, never quite resolving as a whole.
Sillman addresses her canvas with a painter’s heart-felt affection, each gesture becomes a consuming sentiment of expressive absorption. Set against the dalliance of a chalky pink ground, elongated stripes of green congregate with animate integrity, vibrating against patches of electric orange, and off set by contradictory suggestions of spindly flowers and figures. As layers overlap and forms collide, Sillman’s painting descends into a wonder of action and associative reference where bodily experience, memory and perception tangle together.
Amy Sillman
My Pirate

2005

Oil on canvas

198 x 167.5 cm
Part of the strength of Amy Sillman’s paintings derives from their conscious use of awkwardness as an aspect of form. Unfolding as a series of spontaneous developments, My Pirate captures the procession of thought, mirroring the meander of the subconscious. Through this free-form approach to painting, Sillman develops a painterly dimension where landscapes emerge as emotive terrains. Formalist structures of lines, shape, color, and shading become signifiers - pensive, blissful, menacing, or frail - each lending their qualities to almost recognisable forms. Attenuate lines become sunbeams and grass, splotches of colour are read as flowers and lakes. Within her complex abstractions, Sillman offers a sense of self: a deeply intimate position in space, time and mind, reflective of a transient perception of beauty and imagination.
Amy Sillman
Bed

2006

Oil on canvas

231 x 213.4 cm
In Bed, Amy Sillman’s intuitive process is used to convey both loose narrative and psychological uncertainty. With her sumptuous pastel tones tinged with a dirty, dusky pallor, Sillman’s composition doubles as abstract painting and the ambient architecture of a room. Overlaying her swiping brush marks with delicate lines and precise hard edged shapes, Sillman illustrates two figures huddled in a bed, creepily embraced by a third ghostly presence hovering above. Bed’s pink tones and ephemeral description offer a distinctly feminine sight to sexuality, conveying an intimacy as a totality of self: where carnality and emotional fragility are entwined as apprehensive gesture.
Amy Sillman
Window

2009

Oil on canvas

115 x 130 cm
In Window, Sillman’s fragmented imagery is exchanged for pure abstraction. Using a limited palette of blues and oranges, Sillman’s blocky planes of colour and thick line delineations create a paradoxical sense of space. As layers of gestural brush marks record her creative process through painterly illusion, the composition suggests an organic architecture, evoking an expanse of internalised psychological perception. Sillman’s highly sensitive style captivates with a disarming resonance, negotiating the sublime traditions of abstract painting with a rarefied and momentous confidence.

Articles

Boldness Comes With Manifesto

May 10, 2010, By Karen Rosenberg, New York Times

For proof that abstract painting can be as controversial as any other kind, look no further than Amy Sillman’s latest show at Sikkema Jenkins. Art blogs and other online forums are filled with both praise and jeers for Ms. Sillman, and while admirers outnumber detractors, the collective intensity is worth noting.
For proof that abstract painting can be as controversial as any other kind, look no further than Amy Sillman’s latest show at Sikkema Jenkins. Art blogs and other online forums are filled with both praise and jeers for Ms. Sillman, and while admirers outnumber detractors, the collective intensity is worth noting.
Ms. Sillman has been showing in Chelsea for more than a decade, a period in which her art has evolved from small, meandering works on paper to large, square-shaped canvases. But the new paintings are bigger, bolder and more assertive than anything she has done before.
They also come with a manifesto, albeit a quirky one. In the latest issue of a zine she has been producing for the past year (available at the gallery for $1), Ms. Sillman muses about Conceptual art versus painting, ideas versus feelings, and fluorescent versus incandescent light bulbs. One passage reads: “Long live ‘difficult’ art, ‘difficult’ women, & art that’s not just made to sell!”
The paintings in the show, “Transformer (or, how many lightbulbs does it take to change a painting?)” live up to this idea of “difficulty.” Ms. Sillman’s cheerleaders and hecklers agree on at least one thing: She borrows liberally from Guston, Gorky, Matta, De Kooning, Bacon and other robustly gestural painters. In some of her earlier canvases she knits those references together; here she unravels and recombines them, making them very much her own.
At the same time, she continues to develop her own formal lexicon: elephant trunks and other strange proboscises, tilted planes within planes, lines that abruptly swerve or boomerang. Some of these figures, or quasi figures, are articulated in a muscular series of charcoal drawings on backgrounds of pink, yellow and orange gouache.
The bigger scale works for Ms. Sillman. It allows her to engage her imagery on a more physical level, aligning her arm with the outstretched limbs in her paintings. At times, as in “Schmetterling,” her way of fighting for every line reminds you of Matisse. (Maybe that’s because the painting has a bit of Matisse’s sensuality and a palette that echoes his Moroccan period; it’s hard to say.)
She also takes new liberties with color, notably in an orange fireball of a painting that’s puckishly titled “Shade.” It’s positioned in one of the rear galleries, but its vibrations can be felt from the front. Meanwhile, “Blue Diagram,” a net of electric blue thrown over a dusty teal ground, is as nuanced as “Shade” is impertinent.

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Source:nytimes.com

AMY SILLMAN: BREAK UP SEX

April 21, 2010, by Michael Tomeo, Daily Serving

Amy Sillman’s highly publicized split from abstraction may not be quite as dramatic as she made it sound in her sassy breakup letter on Bomblog in 2009. To her credit, she was never a card-carrying member of the High Church of Abstraction anyway. I think some of the works in Transformer (or how many lightbulbs does it take to change a painting?), her current show at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., are in some ways more abstract than previous efforts. But it doesn’t really matter; labels are stupid.
I’m so sick of painters claiming Philip Guston as a forebear, but Sillman’s mixture of confessional cartooning and dark humor, which mirrors Guston’s notorious move away from abstraction in 1970, feels authentic. While Guston’s figurative intention seemed to elucidate the shades-drawn reclusiveness that he saw both in his artist-self and in the hooded figures of the KKK, Sillman seems to be growing more direct and open about her revelations than he ever was.
In a powerhouse group of new drawings, which are the first thing one encounters in this fairly extensive show, body parts stretch and mash together to create awkwardly structural forms that somehow explain the humor and futility of life, sex and art making. Hung in a tight grid, these works never get morbid or didactic—things are confidently upbeat and amoral.
If sex was the elephant in the room for Sillman’s 2007 show at Sikkema, then love may be lurking somewhere here. Not the mature, late-in-life-walk-on-the-beach-type love, but lurid,new love. The type of love that makes you not care what your friends think if you’re a little too busy enjoying life to return their calls and texts like you did when you were single.
Some of the stuff in this show is intentionally nerdy. A second series of drawings takes a rather lengthy narrative spin around the creative process, ending with a drawing of a curlicue light bulb over what appears to be a cutesy self-portrait. A hand-scrawled note on the wall above a table of ‘zines says something like ‘zines $1 (honor system).” The ‘zine itself is cool, but the writing on the wall seems desperately DIY. But so what? We forgive these things of our friends who are in love. If they’re happy, so are we.
In a way, this entire show could be read as an earnest attempt to explore the erotic self as it intersects with technology and sensory perception. To this end, Sillman bets the house on old-fashioned painting, looking square in the face of trend shifts and technological advances. She makes a strong case. While I’ve never been a fan of her adherence to old-school painting styles, with surfaces reminiscent of such un-hip practitioners as Richard Diebenkorn or Terry Winters (ack!), in these new paintings she somehow makes it all palatable. It is refreshing to see an artist not give a shit about the whole digital effect on abstraction. Plus, by now we’ve learned that there really isn’t any one dominant medium or train of thought in painting. Pitting abstraction against representation is ultimately counterproductive. Sillman’s public “breakup” with abstraction might be overstated, but the paintings are convincing enough that we don’t really care.

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Source:dailyserving.com

Streams of Consciousness: Painter Amy SillmanARTnews, by Gail Gregg


If Amy Sillman's career path were plotted on a graph, following the line of her early years would be as challenging as disentangling a single pink drip from the skein of color looped across a Pollock canvas.

Rendered in words, the twisting line would read: Graduates high school in 1973 in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park. Heads north to Beloit College, Wisconsin. Tires of school in first year and heads even farther north - to work in cannery in Alaska. On a whim, hops across the Pacific to live in Japan. Within months, returns to Chicago to work in feminist silkscreen factory. Lands at NYU in 1975 to train as a Japanese interpreter for the United Nations. Enrolls in fine art class and is advised by professor to limit aspirations to commercial art. AT LAST - the pink drip line breaks free from the maze of color: Sillman transfers to Manhattan's School of Visual Art and discovers the painting department. "I realized there were other girls there who wore black T-shirts and read Sarte and were depressed," she recalls. Not only had she found soulmates, but also the passion that would transform her career graph into something more akin to Agnes Martin's sustained, hand-drawn lines than Pollock's complex tangles.

Source: gailgregg.com