Sunday, November 29, 2015

Christine Lafuente

September 13, 2009 by  
Filed under landscape painting, still life

Christine Lafuente Roses in a Compote 2007 oil on board 10 x 10 inches

Christine Lafuente doesn’t let details interfere with her larger view, her painting seem to celebrate the act of vision itself. She stated to me in an email, “I do paint from life and have discovered the act of seeing to be itself an aesthetic or poetic act.” From what I understand her works are made completely from observation in one sitting. She doesn’t limit herself to any particular scene, exploring still life, interiors, seascapes, etc. Her way of seeing the larger color harmony and color feeling is perhaps the most remarkable aspect. Her color feels very specific and nothing feels arbitrary or unresolved. Her painterly brushwork seems to result from close observation and careful drawing of the larger forms seen through a squint and poetic sensibility and not from mere affectation of a loose style.

dimensions and title unknown

Many times working quickly with small paintings in one sitting against the rapidly changing light enhances the painting’s vitality but with the greater quantity of painting output often brings the risk of having a greater percentage of less successful pieces compared to the painters who spend weeks or months on their paintings. From what I can make out she has a far better masterpiece/dud ratio than most.

Farms Along Coulagh Bay oil on panel 9 x 12 inches

She was in a group show at the Laurel Tracey gallery with Duane Keiser and Alicia Rothman in November 2008 that was a great pairing of masters of the smaller painting. Christine’s search for exactly the right color and value in the right place in one sitting compliments Duane’s paintings despite their different focus.

Christine studied with Lennart Anderson at Brooklyn College in NY. She shows at the Gross McCleaf Gallery in Philadelphia and the Morpeth Contemporary Gallery in New Jersey among several others. She teaches at the Pratt Institute, New York and has had a full fellowship award at the Vermont Studio Center. She has won numerous awards and there was an article about her work in American Artist April 2008.

I am hoping to get her to agree to do an interview, so perhaps we can return to her work in the near future for a closer look.

View Toward Somes Sound oil on linen 16 x 20 inches

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15 Responses to “Christine Lafuente”
  1. painting says:

    Any thoughts about her work? I’m curious to hear what other people think, don’t be shy!

  2. I’ve been looking at her work for several years. I have to admit that at first I thought they seemed overly splashy and kind of blurry or something, but after seeing several where she just made an incredible color arrangement (a snow scene that was reproduced in American Artist) I completely changed my mind and have tried to incorporate some of what I see her doing.

    I then saw she was painting in the same area of Red Hook – Brooklyn that I had discovered back in 1991. A dilapidated sugar refinery. Many other painters have since found it and it is a wonderful proving ground for New York based landscape painters. Its almost like comparing Italian studies done in the 1820s.

  3. Wm. Dubin says:

    I have to admit on a personal level, I miss a sense of form that would speak of drawing skills, and over time, might make these paintings feel like a resort to “effects”. Now its entirely possible she has great drawing skills, and has chosen not to display these overtly…. or, she might do so in other paintings, but given the one’s shown here, I personally feel this is a lack.

    The problem becomes, when does work of this sort stop having a sense of growth and personal investigation, and just become a continued repetition of “known effects”. I would think this is a danger for her, or anyone working in this level of amorphous imagery. What is she trying to say… and why not just say it? Why continue to clothe it in these effects? Is the “effect” all there is? Is a “known effect” enough? How would it be to look at 25 of these in a gallery show?

    I also would like to see larger work…. I wonder if these sorts of effects would hold together in a 5 foot canvas.

    I guess what all this comes out being is a sense of too many questions being asked with the work unable to supply the answers.

  4. Wm. Dubin says:


    I’ve just been informed by a friend that he posted a painting by this artist on his blog some 6 months ago, which I really liked…. and which showed far more evidence of her drawing skills.

    This was of a railroad bridge, and if a photo can be pasted into this comment block, I’d be glad to supply this for others.

    What this means, is my previous comment must now apply strictly to the works by this artist shown here, but clearly not to her work in total.

    • Larry says:

      I think Christine’s drawing has more to do with capturing the whole scene – the big areas of color and value that can be independent of the specific forms. Her drawing seems to be more about composition than description.
      Which makes sense in her alla prima, one sitting small paintings. Some of these paintings remind me a little of Philip Guston’s abstract expressionist work from the 50’s like this one…

      Philip Guston Spring II 1958

      I’m not sure what would happen if she worked bigger – it would probably push her a bit. The danger with this kind of painting is that it could become too mannered so I would think it a good idea to shake things up from time to time.

  5. Philip Koch says:

    Uh oh, Larry just hit one of my button- Philip Guston. That’s an artist I just don’t get at all. I think Christine blows Guston out of the water (hope my saying so doesn’t mean I’ll have to move to an “undisclosed location.”

    • Larry says:

      No need to check into a special witness protection program Philip! I’m certainly no Phillip Guston defender, when I was in Art School I absolutely hated his late paintings and didn’t care much for his abstract work either (although I was fond of his early realist work) But when I was in Grad school at BU his legacy as a teacher there still loomed big and after being exposed to this I began to warm up to his work more. Eventually, I grew quite fond of his darkly comic later works and have opened up to his abstract work as well – although the example I posted wasn’t necessarily the greatest example. An irrelevant but interesting note, Ben Aronson (the urban landscape painter) was once his driver while he taught at BU and was greatly influenced by him. So I guess I am not alone here.

      In thinking again about Christine’s work and Gustons I was probably a little too quick to superficially compare their approaches to composition. My point was more to emphasis her broad approach of seeing and drawing the whole scene in an abstract manner which had some similarity in color organization to Guston in my mind. But they have such different sensibilities and objectives it is silly of me to discuss similarities.

      However, I’m not sure I could say one was better than another as their work is so radically different.

  6. sorry to be missing this upcoming opening, Chris. Your new work looks wonderful. I went to Ireland for the first time this summer- would love to talk about it, Bobby

  7. Diane Leon says:

    Christine’s work is excellent. If you want details then photography can capture what you want. If you want mood, and the spirit the place then Christine can give you the essence of the landscape. I love her work.
    Diane Leon
    abstract artist

  8. Josh Bond says:

    I have had the good fortune to watch her work evolve since college. I think her work is incredibly inspired.

  9. Ann Scott says:

    Oh my god I love her work. The color, the light! I first saw it when I found Painting Perceptions and I go back to look at her work over and over. Love this website (PP) over all!

  10. liza hirst says:

    I have just discovered Christine’s work and am very impressed and inspired by it.
    As Diane Leon said and I agree, she captures mood without getting lost in details. I also love it!

  11. Fran Soboeiro says:

    Kudos top Larry for his “spot-on” comparison! I was really into Guston’s abstracts and was so disappointed when he “segued” into cartoons!

  12. Fran Soboeiro says:

    I’m back and still loving these works. But, what’s new Ms.Lafuente?

  13. Edwina Broadbent says:

    I love her work. It’s not about effects as a previous critic has said, but it is purely visual and about colour relationships and beautiful delivery of paint. There is a visual poetry and beauty in these simple paintings. They are not about ‘ideas’, that’s for the world of literature and philosophy. No one who can suggest and imply forms the way she does is ignorant of drawing, she just doesn’t have to make it explicit.

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