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A brush with...

A brush with... Stanley Whitney

Season 20, Ep. 2

Stanley Whitney talks to Ben Luke about his influences—from writers to musicians and, of course, other artists—and the cultural experiences that have shaped his life and work. Whitney, ​​born in Philadelphia in 1946, makes abstract paintings that feature interlocking rectangles, squares and bands of paint whose intense colours hum with musical resonance and rhythm. Rigorously structured yet full of improvisation and unexpected incident, his paintings are both arresting and slow-burning: they grab you with their bold hues and hold you with their complex harmonies and dissonances, their sense of constant movement. He is particularly known for his square-format paintings of the past two decades but his career has been a lifelong search for a distinctive form of painting—one that, as he has said, is defiantly abstract yet contains “the complexity of the world”. He reflects on his encounters with an early mentor, Philip Guston; being painted by Barkley Hendricks, a fellow student at Yale; and his close friendship with David Hammons. He discusses his love of Paul Cezanne, Vincent van Gogh, Paolo Veronese and Henri Matisse, as well as the work of Gees Bend quilters. And explains how he connects this deep love of painting to musical greats including Miles Davis, Charlie Parker and Charlie Mingus. Plus he discusses in detail his life in the studio and answers our usual questions, including “what is art for?”


Stanley Whitney: How High the Moon, Buffalo AKG Art Museum, Buffalo, US, 9 February-27 May; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, US, 14 November-16 March 2025; Institute of Contemporary Art /Boston, US, 17 April 2025–1 September 2025; Stanley Whitney: Dear Paris, Gagosian, Paris, until 28 February.

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  • 3. A brush with... Zineb Sedira

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    Zineb Sedira talks to Ben Luke about her influences—from writers to musicians, film-makers and, of course, other artists—and the cultural experiences that have shaped her life and work. Sedira, born in Paris in 1963 to Algerian parents and based in London since 1986, uses film, photography, installation, sculpture and other media to reflect on memory, from the personal to the collective and historical. She explores representation, language and family, intimately informed by her French, Algerian and British identity. By mining her singular autobiography and its connection with colonial histories and their contemporary legacies, Sedira has created a body of work that is at once politically nuanced, emotionally complex and visually rich. She discusses her early interest in Mary Kelly, her enduring engagement with the art of JMW Turner, and her admiration for the Algerian painter Baya. She reflects on her fascination with the Pan-African Festival in Algiers in 1969, the subject of a body of work. And she talks about her love of jazz and ska, the influence of postcolonial writers, among much else. Plus, she gives insight into her studio life and answers our usual questions, including the ultimate: “what is art for?”Zineb Sedira: Dreams Have No Titles, Whitechapel Gallery, London, 15 February-12 May; the film version of the work is on display at Tate Britain until September 2024; Dreams Have No Titles, Cultural Foundation, Abu Dhabi , UAE, 3 October-28 January 2025; Let’s go on singing!, Goodman Gallery, London, until 16 March; Standing Here Wondering Which Way to Go, Calouste Gulbenkian Museum, Lisbon, Portugal, 19 June 2025-22 September 2025.
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