Paul Waldman Joins MARC STRAUS
Paul Waldman has been an artist for over sixty years and lives anew every day through his art. It is reifying and healing. It connects a difficult childhood seamlessly to the present, mythology to scientific fact, and the push and pull of sexuality to trees and crocodiles and dancers. In the end his art is about truth, respectful of the inner clashes, wary of absolutes. Living is found in the interstices, open to the tug of every second going by, every breath a full breath and meaningful. Why else paint all day at age eighty-one unless you love it from start to finish? Waldman’s paintings are always a balancing of passions: the paint, the surface, the figure, the edges, the stretcher. It’s a religious act. It is love.
Waldman, b. 1936 in Pennsylvania was just twenty-seven when he had his first one-person exhibit at the Alan Stone Gallery, NY, whose famously eclectic program included Wayne Thiebaud and tribal art. Following Allan Stone, Waldman was represented by the Leo Castelli Gallery for 25 years where he had nine one-person shows.
Waldman began as a minimalist but over time he was increasingly unfettered from the constraints of dogma, whether minimalism or abstraction. As Carter Radcliff wrote, by the “60’s and 70’s (Waldman) was a figurative artist tempted by abstraction.” His surfaces were increasingly lush and even erotic and to these were increasingly added figures. Among the Castelli artists Waldman was most like Jasper Johns, pure painters, but Johns’ surfaces were layered and additive, Waldman’s were hushed and tranquil − each stroke drawing us in.
Beginning in 1986 Waldman began to build elaborate birdhouses adorned with sculpted ornaments. Later this project expanded to his Bird Museum, parts of which are at The Boca Raton Museum of Art and Williams College Museum of Art. These are not utilitarian; they are an alternate universe, stand-ins perhaps for a private universe, conjured as a child would.
Annual trips inform his work – mostly in the last decades his love of traveling in India. Elephants, dancers, fabrics, jewelry, headdresses – all swirl onto the canvas of his life.
At age 15 Waldman was a competitive body builder winning the title of Mr. New York City. Body building requires great effort and fortitude and remaking the way we appear. It is an extreme, an indulgence, and likely deeply influenced his attitude as an artist. With perseverance you can remake anything.
Paul Waldman’s art is owned by many of the most prestigious museums in the world including MoMA and the Guggenheim, NY, the Smithsonian and Hirshhorn Museums, Washington D.C., and the Louisiana Museum of Art and Norbyllands Kunstmuseum, Denmark.
Waldman’s inaugural solo exhibition will open on October 24, 2018.