Rick Fox: Piscataqua Paintings
Masako Kamiya: Landmarks
February 3 – 25 at Gallery NAGA
February begins with two artists, one using paint in a sculptural manner and one using sculpture to inform his paintings.
Rick Fox: Piscataqua Paintings and Masako Kamiya: Landmarks are both on exhibition from February 3 through 25. A reception for the artists and the public will be held at the gallery on Friday, February 3 from 6 to 8 pm.
Fox’s second solo show at Gallery NAGA starts with a small series of collages, one of which will be exhibited alongside his new paintings. The collages, made up of several cut pieces of paper that have been painted with a flat acrylic, allowed Fox to explore different ways of seeing shapes in the landscape. “The collages, like working with the clay, allow a bumping-up against new limits of relatively unfamiliar materials as I investigate specifics of my interests . . . . [I]n a way it is like making a reduction sauce to intensify flavor. It also creates the possibility to find new threads, connections, and ideas. The clay, the collage and the painting all inform each other,” Fox says.
In addition to the collages, Fox makes clay sculptures as a way of learning about space. These stacked and complicated shapes become subjects for his paintings. “As I make the clay structures, it is interesting to see some of the same forms and spatial relationships that have hooked me into the landscape are making appearances in the clay. When something like that happens it has a way of creating a window of confidence and motivation to embark on a kind of laconic language learning. . . .[E]ven if hindsight hints that it may all be simply, a good excuse to begin a painting.”
Fox’s landscape and still life paintings verge on near abstraction. Glimpses of skies and hills, though barely there, place them as landscapes. The still lifes, however, bare little resemblance to anything we might intuitively recognize. His paint is applied using a palette knife and is laid down in thick, confident strokes with one streak bumping up against another and sometimes merging. This painting technique resembles the manner in which he builds his sculptures and collages – forms stacked on top and beside each other as if colliding.
“My initial impulse to paint the landscape is not to create a document of a meaningful place, although the process of painting does just that. When a ‘location’ for a series of paintings has exhausted itself, I spend time in a blind-stumble hoping to come upon the next discovered ‘hook’; the force of three colliding shapes, a seductive pair close tonal color relationships, or a nagging spatial sensation, etc. Whatever it is that stirs something up, it seems like a new and necessary opportunity presenting itself. The ‘hooks’ become a starting points from which things unfold, and then once underway I can find myself working at the same spot for a year . . . two,” Fox adds.
Masako Kamiya’s newest body of work is done entirely on paper. Using acrylic gouache, she puts down a dot of paint, lets it dry, then adds another. She repeats the process until stalactites of differing heights emerge. Each layer on the surface, or dot, is of a different color, so the work, observed from an angle, becomes a forest of multicolored columns.
In the past, Kamiya’s painted marks were consistent in shape and size. The mark making in the new works on paper are diverse: one dot may appear as a perfect circle and the adjacent dot may resemble a watery drip or dash. Kamiya comments on the sculptural aspect of her work. “My intention is to challenge the way a painting is conventionally perceived. The sculptural surface moves viewers across the field of the painting. This forces the viewer’s eyes to mix and optically process the various properties of color. Ultimately, the viewers experience the subtle metamorphosis of the colors in the painting as the painting shifts from two dimensions to three dimensions and back again, according to the viewer’s angle to and distance from the work.”
With her works on paper, Kamiya has always painted against a white background as a substrate for her mark making. Many of the new paintings are done on gray and brown- toned paper resulting in a shift in the color relationships between the sculptural aspect of the material and the surface. Kamiya explains, “Cill Rialaig Project in Kerry County (I visited in Sep-Oct 2015) was the darkest place in Ireland. In the remote coastal region, I spent nearly 3 and half weeks without the city’s artificial, fluorescent light. I was forced to perceive colors and experience subtle chromatic presence in the darkness. Nighttime was impressive with numerous stars. They were the loudest lights there. So it felt natural to work on the dark paper. The darkness of the toned paper slowed me down even more since I could not discern the color of my dark marks right away on the dark tone. By slowing down in the mark-making and figuring out my colors, I was also able to build a physical surface slowly; building a color composition has paralleled with building a physical surface. To me, this parallel relationship in the painting process was optimal and critical in making a strong and balanced work.”
Masako Kamiya’s exhibition is sponsored in part by the Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed Foundation grant and the Provincetown Art Association and Museum.