Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Walton Ford @ Paul Kasmin Gallery

Impossible to get a decent photo of these enormous paintings because of the glass in front of them and the loads of natural light bouncing around the space, but in real life they are dazzling. The scale of these watercolor/gouache paintings is closer to what we expect for, say, a Jackson Pollock. Where does the paper come from that he's using? Everything I've read about this artist makes him seem like a cool guy, and a kind of insider/outsider vis-a-vis the NY art scene. The contours of the drawing of these animals are taut, assertively controlled and somehow help convey the energy of what is "happening" in the images. Species names scripted in Audubon style, and snippets of added notation heighten the degree of storytelling going on in these, tending to draw the viewer into some complicity with the subjects, and the effect can be ominous, poignant, or hilarious. The cassowary and emu battle shows a dinosauresque struggle between two 'biguns which simultaneously evokes the color and blase sensuality of the two gal pals recently seen lounging at the Met Museum in Courbet's "Demoiselles au Bord de la Seine". Bravura technique, perhaps to an extent some could find off-putting, even down to painting in the mushrooming points of mold usually found on ancient maps, prints, or illustrations. Gorgeous color. I could look at these a long time, but the show ends soon. Go.

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