An exhibition of new mixed-media work by nationally acclaimed artist Kris Cox
will be on display January 19 through March 18 at William Campbell Contemporary
Art. An opening reception will be held Thursday, January 19, from 6:00 to 8:00
p.m. The show will include more than a dozen pieces that continue the artist's
ongoing exploration of surface manipulation and the inherent physicality within
two-dimensional surfaces. This new collection marks a shift in Cox's subject
matter from totally abstract content to figurative subjects realized as digital
photographs whose surfaces have been affected by Cox to produce a heady patina
and sumptuous inner luminosity.
Cox's photographs vary in size, ranging from single images under two feet
to a triptych that measures ten feet across. The series features nature-themed
subjects shot near his rural Colorado home, including dahlias in the field and
Highland cattle hairsnarled in barbed wire. The elaborate tangles of hair-left
by cows rubbing repeatedly against the wire-represent for Cox nature's process,
and the life force within the creature and its surrounding world. "The delicacy
and intricacy one observes in the hair left on the barbs belies the massive
bodies of the beasts from which it originated," he explains. "I think of these
images as icons, as portraits. There is an animation that occurs, a singular
presence to each. What began as general has taken on specificity." Likewise,
images of the dahlias denote nature's constant cycle of budding, going to seed,
and blooming once again.
The highly detailed macro images are printed onto paper that the artist has
infused with beeswax and coated, incrementally, with pigmented wood putty and
other imbedded hues to create an internal framing structure and physical depth.
These augmentations work in concert to transform the otherwise opaque support
into a succession of translucent planes with dimension and luster. After treating
the paper, Cox works the area by hand, burnishing, smoothing, and refining it
to reveal a multifaceted finish of light-engaging contrasts and values. The
resulting surface comprises layers of visual and tangible textures that coalesce
to form a deep, luscious picture plane that is both dynamic and refined.
Cox displays his mixed-media pieces without external frames or glass,
highlighting the tactility of their surfaces and in effect removing any physical
barriers between artwork and viewer. In addition to emphasizing the objectness
of the work, such a presentation, he says, "heightens viewer experience" and
reveals its "ephemeral quality of lightness."
Cox cites living in abundant wilderness with his recent, heightened
interest in nature and subsequent move to figure-based art. He has become more
physically and mentally aware of his surroundings, and remains intent on
communicating in his work "the real" that he encounters within his immediate
environment. He remarks, "If I am not relentlessly experimenting in my work,
with my focus, with my concepts, unafraid to fail, than I should find another
line of work."
ABOUT THE ARTIST
A nationally recognized artist, Kris Cox has spent more than three decades
exhibiting across the United States and abroad. His work has appeared in solo
and group shows in New York, Atlanta, Boulder, Chicago, Minneapolis, Portland,
Santa Fe, Seattle, and Washington, D.C., as well as in Los Angeles, San Francisco,
and throughout his native California. His art has been featured in such noted
periodicals as ARTnews, the Los Angeles Times, Artweek, Sculpture magazine,
Architectural Digest, and Artspace: A Magazine for Contemporary Art.
Cox's work is part of many museum and university collections, including the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; the Oakland
Art Museum; the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art; the Museum of Fine Arts,
Santa Fe; the Mint Museum of Craft and Design, Charlotte; the Racine Art Museum;
the C.U. Art Museum, Boulder; Scripps College, Claremont, California; Arizona
State University; Claremont McKenna College, California; and California State
Polytechnic University. Corporations that hold his work in their collections
include General Mills, Minneapolis; Prudential Insurance, Los Angeles; the IBM
Corporation, Chicago; Sears Corporation, Chicago; and the Peninsula Hotel, New
Kris Cox earned his MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and his BA from
Claremont McKenna College in California. Born in Los Angeles, Cox now lives and
works in Basalt, Colorado.