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In Why Paintings Work, writer and curator Jurriaan Benschop navigates the diverse landscape of contemporary painting. He introduces the work of dozens of painters, discusses the themes that can be found in their work and keeps asking the question: Why does this painting work? In what ways does it speak to the viewer? He considers both the visible aspects of painting —such as the depicted motif and the application of paint— and the concepts, beliefs and motivations that underlie the canvas. Why Paintings Work is not just about how we look at paintings, but also about finding a language that suits the art and viewing experience of today. ‘Is there such a thing as the content of a painting? The word “content” suggests that a painting contains something that can be taken out, in the same way that you can pour wine from a bottle. In the case of a painting, it could be its meaning, an idea or a point. If the content was all that a painting had to offer, however, painters would have become writers, or philosophers; they would have chosen a profession that enables the expression of ideas more efficiently. In a painting, it is never just about what is painted, or the idea behind it, but always about how it is done.' Among the artists featured in this book are: Nikos Aslanidis, David Benforado, Louise Bonnet, Glenn Brown, Maria Capelo, Peter Doig, Béatrice Dreux, Helmut Federle, Beverly Fishman, Elisabeth Frieberg, Victoria Gitman, Veronika Hilger, Martha Jungwirth, Andreas Ragnar Kassapis, Kristi Kongi, Mark Lammert, Rezi van Lankveld, Michael Markwick, Kerry James Marshall, Lara de Moor, Matthew Metzger, Marc Mulders, Kaido Ole, Jorge Queiroz, Fiona Rae, Daniel Richter, Jessica Stockholder, Marc Trujillo, Anna Tuori, Matthias Weischer, Paula Zarina-Zemane and Gerlind Zeilner. Jurriaan Benschop is a Dutch writer and curator based in Athens and Berlin. His writings have been published in Artforum International, Arterritory, Elephant, The Brooklyn Rail and in exhibition catalogs and artist's books. Among the exhibitions he curated are A Grammar of Gestures (Kourd, Athens, 2021), Taking Root (KIT, Düsseldorf, 2019) and A Matter of Touch (Kunsthaus Torstrasse 111, Berlin, 2020). His book Salt in the Wound. Encountering Contemporary Artists across Europe was published by Garret in 2019

Benschop, Why Paintings Work

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