Tag Archives: Rhino Horn

A Painter Must Paint, No Matter What Happens

Going back to his works of the Seventies and a painting of an artist painting in the chaos of his studio, Bill Barrell expresses his feelings for the hope that is out there for the artists who continues to paint, day in – day out, year in – year out, no matter what is going on around them.
Night Painting
Night Painting, 16 x 22, 1975, oil on canvas

–    The studio has become a constant theme in my work because that is where I spend most of my time. I finished this painting, “Night Painting”, back in the mid-Seventies. The artist at the easel appears very calm while all around him in the studio there is turmoil. He is surrounded by other works, some finished, the others still in progress. Also there are works by other artists and stuff such as old tea cups, books, photographs and plants trying to survive the paint fumes.  I didn’t stuggle with the paint in this painting, it was laid down fast and with a sure hand.  It is the artist at work figuring out his life and personal feelings.

When I made this painting in 1975, much of the art being made was in the minimal vein. There was a group of artists who were natural expressionists.  Our feelings of isolation led us all together and we formed the group called “Rhino Horn”.  I am not sure where we came up with the name Rhino Horn. I don’t think any of the group tried rhino horn for its aphrodisiac qualities. I believe instead that we all associated with the rhinoceros for its tough qualities and ability to stand its ground.   Two of the members of Rhino Horn have sinced died since this group was formed and one currently lives in Columbia. The remaining three, Peter Passuntino, Jay Milder and I have been invited to talk on a panel at “Artists Talk on Art” on March 25th.  I find this very encouraging and the invitation takes me back to our first panel talk in 1979 when we were invited to talk by Bob Wiegand. It was a very lively event.

But I have also been encouraged by two articles that appeared recently in the New York Times Art Section. One is by Roberta Smith (Post Minimal to the Max – Feb 10, 2010) and the other by Holland Cotter (History Lesson in Abstraction, Cutting Across America – Feb. 19, 2010). They report that the museums and galleries are looking more closely at artists who got overlooked in the recent past and who are still working regardless of being bypassed. I know it is not unusual for one movement in art to be overshadowed by another in this day and age. I have learned that many artists leaving art school now expect to graduate and step right into a gallery. I am sure this does happen and I wish all the more power to them. But I  find it very encouraging indeed that there may be artists who will be re-evaluated and that their work will come out of the shadows of obscurity and will be seen in a new light.