Book ‘Why Paintings Work’

Why Paintings Work book cover

In ‘Why Paintings Work’ Jurriaan Benschop navigates the diverse landscape of contemporary painting. He introduces the work of dozens of painters and asks: Why do these paintings work? In what ways do they 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. Throughout the book different themes come up, while looking at the work of contemporary painters, such as nature, the body, touch, movement, identity, memory and spirituality.

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.

The book contains 284 pages with more than 100 illustrations in color, paperback 14 x 20 cm, in English. Published May 2023 by Garret Publications, Helsinki. Bookshops order through Idea books in Amsterdam *** ISBN 9789527222171 *** Individuals can ORDER A COPY through this website by filling out the order form HERE Delivery time in Europe is about one week, outside Europe two weeks approximately.

In these shops or institutions the book is already available:

E U R O P E Athens: Booktique; Hyper Hypo, Alyki, Paros: Cycladic Arts, Amsterdam: The American Book Center, Stedelijk Museum, Utrecht: Broese, Bath, UK: Magalleria, Berlin: Do You Read Me?, Uslar & Rai, Helsinki: Suomalainen; Prisma, London: Art Data, Münster: Extrabuch, Riga: Zuzeum, Stockholm, Göteborg: Adlibris, Vienna: Giese und Schweiger,

U S A Houston, TX: Basket Books, Boston, MA: ICA Store, Los Angeles: Stories, Santa Barbara: Chaucers Books.

Worldwide online order through Walter König (Germany, Austria), Art Data (United Kingdom) or through the website you are currently visiting.

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Elisabeth Frieberg in Stockholm

studio elisabeth frieberg stockholm

During my visit to Sweden, the artist showed me the works of her grandparents, Beth Zeeh and Ryno Frieberg, both painters whose works can be seen in their former house in the countryside. Driving there, a good hour outside of Stockholm, I watched the landscape change into gently curving meadows, farms, forests, and lakes. I became aware of the natural background of Frieberg’s works, the visual “material” the artist has seen so often, even if only subconsciously, as it was simply always there. You might wonder why she did not become a landscape painter, considering that she grew up as a country girl, playing at the lakeside, catching fish under the bridge, and seeing how animals were fed at the farm nearby. Or you could argue that she did become a landscape painter, but she did so in the age of abstraction, where the focus is not necessarily on what can be recognized as a depiction in a painting, but on what is present in terms of energy and ideas, colors and forms. Broadly speaking, and probably more correctly, we could call Frieberg a nature-based painter. Her paintings cannot really be separated from nature, just as they cannot be separated from the late 20th century in which she grew up. She went to art school in Umeå at a time when abstract and conceptual takes on art had become part of daily practice and conversation. Abstraction was neither a novelty nor the result of a reductive view on reality, but simply an existing vocabulary with its own expressive possibilities. At the same time, for Frieberg, every part of her “abstract” paintings is rooted in nature – in the color of the sky, the movement of water, the pattern of a bird’s feather.

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From the essay: “Connecting to the Source,” published in the book Elisabeth Frieberg, Rhythm Nature Movement God, Kewenig Gallery, 2021.