Rick Fox on Tupelo Quarterly

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.

See the full article HERE.