Friday, November 29, 2013

Miami Project | Jack Fischer Gallery | Art Basel Miami

If you're planning to attend Art Basel Miami, please visit Jack Fischer Gallery’s booth at the Miami Project:
02 December 13 - 08 December 13, 2013
NE 29th Street and NE 1st Ave
Miami, Florida 33137

Beneath Krakatoa, hand-painted book, page size 19” x 13”
Jack will be showing paintings, sculpture, and hand-painted books from our September show, along with works by artists Marlon Mullen, Katsuhiro Terao, Lauren DiCioccio.

Chrysanthemum, acrylic on canvas, 72” x 48”
Jack and I were fortunate to receive kind reviews on our recent show.

Kenneth Baker in the San Francisco Chronicle, “Very rarely does a critic encounter new work that immediately rewards a lifetime of learning to look. No one who cares about seeing as a sensation of life should miss this chance to inspect Schumaker’s albums.”

Dewitt Cheng in art ltd., “…opulently imaginative, not to be missed.”

Barbara Morris in Artillery Magazine, “…the work compels prolonged viewing…”

Matthew Marchand in SFAQ Online, “The surfaces are handled so deftly everywhere in the show but never so importantly as on the boxes where the light touch with the gesso and the distressed finishes reconfirm flatness.”

For complete text of reviews, please look at previous postings (further down).

Art Practice, polychrome wood sculpture, 9" x 8" x 11"

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Essay by Paloma Lanusse-Broussal | Paris

I spent the month of October with my son Matthew in Paris. He was recently awarded the Ladd Prix de Paris and will be spending the better part of a year there, writing a piece for orchestra. The time gave us the chance to catch up with old friends, among them the 16 year-old daughter of Denise and Jean-Marc, who surprised me at dinner with an essay she’d just completed for school.

I’ve been lucky these past two or three months to have people write kindly about my work, but this piece makes me especially happy.

(Do I need to add that the parents pressured Paloma to show it to me?)

Thank you, Paloma, and bravo!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Dewitt Cheng | art ltd. | Review

Beneath Krakatoa
One of a kind hand-painted book, methyl cellulose paste and acrylic on Stonehenge paper19" x 13"
Photo: Vivienne Flesher, courtesy Jack Fischer Gallery

Ward Schumaker: "Years of Pretty" at Jack Fischer Gallery
by dewitt cheng
Nov 2013

Recurrent reports of the death of painting are greatly exaggerated, of course, as are related rumors about the death of the individual and the death of art in the hurry-hurry postmodern age. Ward Schumaker's generous display of painterly bravura at the newly relocated Jack Fischer Gallery makes the case for subjectivity and colored mud yet again. Schumaker's work clearly derives from modernist precedents--savory Abstract Expressionism foremost, with notes of Minimalism and Conceptualism--but his synthesis is personal rather than programmatic or theoretical. Viewers of Schumaker's solo show last year at Dominican University in San Anselmo recognized a powerful new talent. (Well, yes and no. Schumaker is an illustrator of some eminence and versatility, which makes his fine-art "personal work" even more remarkable.) "Years of Pretty," a large show of work from the last decade, stunningly confirms that impression, managing to avoid the twin traps of conventional prettiness and conventional iconoclasm. One critic discerned in Schumaker's poetic conflation of words and image "the best of" Guston, Kiefer, Twombly and Winters. One might add, perhaps, to that roster of unsavory characters, Basquiat, Miro and Tapies, with the reticent, intellectual Johns, the virtuoso of encoded emotions and gorgeous surfaces, Schumaker's closest ancestor figure, to my eye.

One illustration on the artist's website reproduces Gertrude Stein's paradoxical praise of tradition as the means to freedom. "Years of Pretty" features five bodies of work that have been executed in traditional materials: medium-format mixed-media paintings on paper mounted on wood; acrylics on canvas; small collages on paper; small, idiosyncratic painted wooden sculptures derived from Minimalism and hard-edge abstraction that suggest mockups of houses or furniture; and six, bound, 64-page volumes of 20-by-13-inch paintings, opulently imaginative, and not to be missed. With their teasingly cryptic titles (The Alps, The Niger, Saskatchewan, Shostakovich, Veut Dire, Beneath Krakatoa) and texts, the works demand analysis far beyond the scope of this space that is sure to be forthcoming. With two highly regarded recent shows, this has been Schumaker's well-deserved year of plenty.

For the original review, please visit:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Barbara Morris review in Artillery Magazine

Ward Schumaker
Jack Fischer Gallery / San Francisco

November 5, 2013

The buzz around San Francisco’s new art hub—near the Design District along a stretch of Utah Street and nearby Potrero—resonates throughout Jack Fischer’s expansive new space. Its inaugural exhibition, “Years of Pretty,” is a mini-retrospective of SF-based Ward Schumaker’s work from the past 10 years. 

Schumaker’s day job for 35 years has been commercial illustration for clients like Hermès and Kronenbourg. While his hand is finely trained, in his fine artwork he chooses to let other energies come into play. Roughly brushed, intuitively composed paintings mix randomness and design, the skillfulness of the hand revealing itself slyly in the flip of a brushstroke—the blunt, ragged dragging of paint which obliterates text just so.

While Schumaker presents his gestural musings in a variety of formats, it is the presence of seven hand-painted books that carry the most weight. The hefty books on Stonehenge paper mesh expressionistic paint-handling with washy fields, at times disrupted by stenciled text. Beneath Krakatoa (2004) offers dense black passages enlivened by brush tracks or faint gestural figurative suggestions in hues of pink or red, the rich, energetically composed fields in effect constituting a thick stack of paintings packed back-to-back between bindings.

It was in a class at the San Francisco Center for the Book where the artist first experimented with mixing bookbinding paste into acrylic paint. The resulting pages caught the eye of a gallerist from Shanghai, who offered to show them as paintings. The work has since drawn attention from many in the art world—finding its way into the collections of Eric Fischl and Ivan Karp, among others. Schumaker enjoys the hard, tactile quality and glossy sheen that the medium lends to the work, stating that it adds an element of uncertainty, which he enjoys.

Elixir Refused (Make Happy) (2005) draws narrative from the Bhagavad Gita, while Weather Patterns (2003) offers atmospheric fields of apricot and pale aqua broken by quirky biomorphic forms. As one becomes immersed in Schumaker’s images, it’s almost a process of getting to know how he thinks. Certainly for those with a painterly orientation the work compels prolonged viewing, soaking in the impressions of form and color both as visual nourishment and as a challenge to decipher technique and meaning.

Rounding out the exhibition are large and small wall-mounted works along with his “dumb boxes,” an assortment of sculptural objects combining geometric forms, cubes, rectangles and sloping planes, with roughly applied geometric designs. One-Eyed Afternoon (2012) features a pair of cubes, 7” on a side, joined across the bottom by a plane on which they both rest. Roughly brushed with white gesso, the interior spaces are tightly filled with squares of corrugated cardboard. 

While elusive snippets of text throughout intrigue and tease, some, such as the repeated phrase “I Am Big Heaven,” clearly demand attention. Schumaker maintains an active meditation practice, and one might reasonably conjecture that these words are offered as a form of mantra for both artist and viewer to latch on to—if only in order to let go.

Barbara Morris

Another Mention by Kenneth Baker

A few days before my show at Jack Fischer was to come down, Kenneth Baker gave us another kind mention in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Ward Schumaker: Years of Pretty:
Selections from Ten Years of Work:
The art of San Franciscan Schumaker makes a dazzling impression––especially in several volumes of paintings on paper––in this offhand retrospective.  It makes the case, without really trying to, that education, experience and relaxation count for more in making art than big ideas or competitive drive.  Ends Saturday. 11a.m.––5:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. Jack Fischer Gallery, 311 Potrero Ave., S.F. (415) 956-1178.

Kenneth Baker