"the daily practice of painting"
June 18, 2021
Steve Locke’s series, the daily practice of painting, invites the viewer to consider the artist’s dedication to his craft. Consisting of a daily record of Locke’s painting practice, this exhibition features a series of small male portraits. In this series, Locke also considers themes of identity and self-expression. The 6 x 6-inch portraits appear similar, yet a closer inspection reveals individual personalities and moods of the subjects depicted. Using a broad palette of colors and expressive brushstrokes, Locke imbues his figures with a variety of emotions, asking the viewer to consider each individual portrait in contrast to the repetition of scale in the series.
the daily practice of painting is a daily affirmation to Locke’s belief in everyday work. Labor is his and not dependent on outside approval.
I believe in work. It has been my most reliable solution.
I have never believed in inspiration or safety as a condition for work or for anything else. The former is unreliable and the latter is a stranger to me. If a sense of safety were a necessity to being an artist, I never would have become one. I did not want to have to depend on something or someone outside of me to make my work. I did not want to have to look for validation or support or welcome or encouragement because I knew from bitter experience that those things are subject to whims and fashion.
I could not build a practice on anything on which I could not depend. That meant that I had to develop a sense of things I thought were worth investigating and a sense of what is at stake in being an artist alive at this moment. The things that interest me as an artist today are the same things that have interested me my entire life. Even though the materials of the work may shift, the concerns are the same across all of the bodies of work. What some people think of as ventures into other media are for me an extension of my practice as a painter.
So I work everyday in some way. These paintings are an example of my daily practice. They are 6 x 6 inches square on Claybord. Most are gouache, a couple are casein, and a few are high flow acrylic, and they are uploaded in close to chronological order with a few exceptions (the last paintings are the latest). No one asked me to make them and no one needs them. They are the work I do every day.
Steve Locke (b. 1963) was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Detroit, Michigan. Locke lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. In 2022 he was awarded the Rappaport Prize by deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. In 2020 he was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Solo exhibitions include the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, among others. He has done projects with ForFreedoms, Kickstarter, the Boston Public Library, and P.S. Satellites/Prospect IV in New Orleans and has had gallery exhibitions with yours mine & ours, Samsøñ, LaMontagne Gallery, Gallery Kayafas, and Mendes Wood. He attended residencies with the City of Boston (2018), the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum (2016), the MacDowell Colony (2015), and Skowhegan (2002). Locke is a recipient of grants from Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and Art Matters Foundation. His work has been reviewed in Artforum, Art in America, the Boston Globe, and The New Yorker, and his writing has been published in Artforum as well as in museum catalogues. Locke is a professor of fine arts at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
the daily practice of painting, 2019-2020
Egg tempera and oil emulsion on Claybord
114 6 x 6 inche panels
Courtesy Alexander Gray Associates, New York
© 2022 Steve Locke/Artists Rights Society