DESCRIPTION OF WORK
Every artist needs a boilerplate response to that constantly asked question: “What is your work like?” “I say I paint figures and landscapes,” says Stanley Goldstein, “but those figures are involved in their own lives in some way, whether at work or at play.” Although Goldstein says he is a voyeur of the lives of strangers, he often can be found (with easel) in the middle of a crowded San Francisco beach, poolside at a swim party or in the field of a working farm with cows. “People often come up and see what I’m doing, even offer to pose for me.” Indeed, when Goldstein comes upon a scene that engages him, he sets up his canvas and paints in the midst of it, focusing on a person (or cow, depending on the setting) “who establishes credentials. I target one figure who is compelling. Sometimes I feel like a hunter stalking prey.”
METHOD OF WORK
Goldstein has solved the chief conundrum presented by his favorite subject matter. Because he is intent on capturing people as they live through moments of their daily lives, he has had to find a way to preserve those fleeting moments. For his beach paintings, he works quickly to capture as much as he can on-site. “I’ll go back on the same kind of day at the same time and resume the work, if necessary,” he notes. “Sometimes, I’ll do composites of people.” He has also started using a video camera. “I use video to get images I wouldn’t get otherwise-that would be lost because they exist for only the space of a single frame of film.” He might videotape events from an apartment window or street corner, not knowing until later what he has captured. “I then look for something disarming, unusual, mysterious. I’ll make a sketch from that and decide if it’s worthy to paint.”
Given Goldstein’s particular interest in beaches and the manners of people in such settings, his work often is likened to that of David Hockney. “I can certainly see that relation with my underwater paintings, but I wasn’t thinking of him when doing those works,” he says. Artists that Goldstein does cite as pivotal influences include John Singer Sargent, Max Beckmann,Edouard Manet, Alice Neel and David Park. “George Bellows and Matisse are main stalwarts for me,” he notes.
Goldstein, who studied dance in his 20s, is greatly influenced by Merce Cunningham, who is known for his non-linear, abstract approach to movement. “I’m much taken with Cunningham’s ability to present problems [how to move the body, how the body relates to music] and solve them,” Goldstein explains. He also loves animation and has created many flip-books. “Classic cartoons taught me how to draw-to look at the hands of Bugs Bunny, for instance, and see how to render them. I always try to put humor and point-of-view in my work, as does good animation. As with cartoon panels, I like to tell a story, but in an oblique way rather than in a strict narrative sense. I want to suggest the story that exists beyond the moment in the painting.”
“One day in 1990 I walked into the Jeremy Stone Gallery [now closed] in San Francisco and showed my slides to someone whom I thought was the receptionist,” he says. “She turned out to be the owner [Jeremy Stone], and she really was responsible for pushing me into the world and exposing my work.”
“I can paint anything so long as I am committed to it,” Goldstein says. “I can tell when something isn’t working for me-if I’m just dutifully rendering the image.” He relies on inspiration first but remains committed to seeing that original vision to completion, even if inspiration has long since dissipated. “Art is about nuance and everything that goes into it. A painting is a complete experience.”
At the George Billis Gallery in New York City, from May 27 to June 21, Goldstein unveils new works on paper, including a series of “Technicolor paintings” of images from a 1950’s wedding reception and another of women at work at hot dog stands.
PRICE RANGE OF WORK
$1,400-2,800 for works on paper; $1,800-6,000 for paintings; $10,000-26,000 for commissions
George Billis Gallery, 555 W. 25th St. 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10001. (212) 645-2621. www.GeorgeBillis.com.
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