RICK FOX: Narrative & Personality: “going the way of the head....” with a micro-interview by Elaine Sexton
Elaine Sexton: One thing that seems immediately evident in these new paintings is how much they are like your semi-abstract landscapes, the flat palette-knife strokes of saturated color, they have a certain muteness in common. It is almost as though you have made landscapes of the faces and upper torsos of men. Self portraits? You put together three sets of grids for us to see a large group of them, and to give readers a sense of the progression, we will also show some landscapes. What drew you away from the land and the sea to paint the figure during the pandemic?
Rick Fox: In March, out in the Landscape I began to have a strong desire to pare down to essentials. But I wasn’t making much headway...it is a funny word as I write it because that is exactly what I ended up doing, going the way of the head. In the landscape, the amount of information was suddenly too much for what I wanted to do with it...and something I still can’t clearly articulate. Having a rough go of paring down the “too much” in the landscape, I had the idea that it might make more sense to go paint one big form in space, and then bring what I learn back out into the landscape. I was also intrigued by the idea of seeing what would happen with more stable light and weather conditions.
So, I put a big mirror on an extra easel I had in my studio, and I started responding to that big form in space, my head. I get a wide range of looks when I tell people that these are all my head from observation. Landscape or head, It is all “terrain” and I am responding to relative positions of shapes of color. An ear is a certain distance behind the cheek much like some
marsh grass catching light is behind a granite boulder. But what is different, and very fun, when painting the head, narrative and personality comes screaming in very quickly and become a big and welcome part of the decision-making process.
I don’t have planned color ideas, or mood ideas or backstory ideas. All of that is made spontaneously in collaboration with the process, and always a surprise. A friend said that I am painting distortions and the act of painting is clearing them. I like this. These heads all happened during this complex year we are presently moving through, and all during Covid.
Rick Fox lives in Kittery, the southernmost coastal town of Maine. He is represented by Gallery Naga, Boston and JP Art Gallery, London. In 2020, following a late 2019 Ballinglen Arts Foundation painting fellowship Balleycastle, Ireland, Rick had solo exhibitions and was part of group exhibitions at both Gallery NAGA and JP Art Gallery. Gallery NAGA, Boston: May 2020 “Postcards from County Mayo” / July 2020 “Virtual Summer Camp, New Work by NAGA artists”. JP Art Gallery, London: “Rick Fox Paintings, June 2020” / “Group Exhibition, June-July 2020.” Other recent exhibits in include Bowery Gallery, NYC: July 2020 “29th Annual Juried Competition,” Prince Street Gallery, NYC: July 2020 “Annual National Juried Show,” and The Circle Gallery Annapolis, Maryland: September 2019 “American Landscapes”. In 2018 he participated in the 2nd International Painting Plein Air Residency and exhibition in Latvia and a painting residency at Playa, in Summer Lake, Oregon. Among his many honors Fox is the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment of the Arts and the William James Association to administer and teach a painting and drawing program at the Federal Prison, FMC Devens. He has been teaching painting and drawing full-time at the University of New Hampshire since 2010. IG: @rickfoxaintings rickfoxpaintings.com gallerynaga.com https://www.jpartconsultancy.com/jp-art-gallery