Shotgun Review

In Case You Missed It: Miranda Putman and Susan Preston

By Lani Asher September 20, 2011

Why Paint?

When Matisse was asked in a 1942 radio interview why he painted, he said: "Why, to translate my emotions, my feelings, and the reactions of my sensibility into color and design, which neither the most perfect camera, even in color, nor the cinema can do. ... [Artists are] useful because they can augment color and design through the richness of their imagination intensified by their emotion and their reflection on the beauties of nature, just as poets or musicians do."1

Miranda Putman’s elegant but tough-minded abstract paintings and drawings use an intuitive, personal syntax that points to anatomical illustrations, to the strata seen in geological formations, and, less directly, to the influences of writers and musicians like Tolstoy and John Coltrane. She works in layers of pasted paper, ink, graphite, charcoal, and paint, mapping her physiological and emotional geography as she works. Each piece relies on its own internal logic, and her paintings navigate a terrain full of hidden paths, twists and turns, surprises, and concealed messages that write over themselves, both canceling and echoing one another’s meaning. 

Though her paintings are expressionist in spirit, Putman sites the work of Matisse and the compositions of Tintoretto as some of the influences for her recent show at b.sakata garo in Sacramento. Combining understated colors with rhythmic mark-making, Putman’s bold and exuberant compositions look exactly right. Her works achieve a deeply satisfying level of complexity, transmitting the fruits of many years of painting and drawing directly to the minds of her viewers.




Miranda Putman, Untitled #37, b. sakata garo

Miranda Putman. Untitled #37, 2011; mixed media on panel; 48 x 36 in. Courtesy of the Artist and b. sakata garo, Sacramento.




Miranda Putman and Susan Preston was on view at b sakata garo, in Sacramento, through September 3, 2011.



1.Jack D.Flamed., Matisse on Art, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995.

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