Julian Lethbridge

Cat. CFA Contemporary Fine Arts Berlin & Paul Cooper Gallery New York

Text (English) by Robert Storr, interview (English) by Camila McHugh
64 p with 44 coloured illustrations
280 x 205 mm, hardcover

ISBN 978-3-86442-231-7

29,80 €

OKAY = America!

All-over gestural abstraction is a quintessentially Americantype of painting. Such a statement might inspire uneasiness or even alarm in a period of our nation’s history more chauvinistic than any we have known in decades. Were it not for the fact that the artist about whom I am going to speak was born in Ceylon and grew up in Great Britain. That noted he has been a New Yorker since 1972, making Julian Lethbridge’s story a typically American one of successful immigration. Except for the Native American population “we” all came from elsewhere at different times and for different reasons, texturing, variegating and marbling this country’s culture in wondrous ways. In essence “all-over American-type painting” is a rubric that can be applied to a broad sweep of post-1950s art – broader certainly than the scope originally intended by Clement Greenberg who coined the term – ranging from that of Jackson Pollock, Philip Guston and Willem de Kooning to Jasper Johns and Cy Twombly. Its common denominator can be found in the working principle that the amalgam of marks evoking the more or less representational, more or less poetic image – in some cases, such as Johns’, they may constitute an utterly prosaic picture – is in itself the image. (…)
The visual and tactile density of the largest of these paintings is like nothing previously seen in Lethbridge’s art, signaling, perhaps, a turning point in a body of work that has heretofore undergone steady, incremental metamorphosis. For the present, though, I am content to value Lethbridge’s recent paintings for what they are rather than for what they portend. The expression of an instinctively reserved, thoughtful, disciplined but unapologetically hedonistic sensibility, his canvases dazzle and entice with a refinement that is at once exigent and readily accessible to all with the requisite combination of patience and appetite. Taking the larger, longer view, they are perpetual motion machines whose whirring dynamism shows us that all-over American-type painting remains an open parenthesis in the history of modern art – work that needs to be done. (Excerpt from Robert Storr’s text)