Installation shot of Failure, by Kris Cox. at LewAllen in the Railyard

Installation shot of Failure, by Kris Cox. at LewAllen in the Railyard

Contemporary in Santa Fe: Kris Cox at LewAllen

Kris Cox  is a Basalt, Colorado painter whose first solo show in Santa Fe, Failure, runs through April 28th at LewAllen Galleries’ Railyard location (1613 Paseo de Peralta).

The show engages examples from three bodies of work which reveal the artist moving from open-ended inquiry to often-formalist solution.

He constructs diptychs of a digital archival photo print paired with a “painting,”  a circlet or square shape of accreted acrylic scraped from the palette. Studio practice, edged and organized. While it can be hard at first to reconcile the photo-image’s classical quality with the anime character of the acrylic, the juxtaposition suggests paradoxically both the formlessness and intentionality of making, the parts that derive deliberateness from habit or chance.

Now happens a slight projection, as I strive to remember what exactly were Jasper Johns’ words about wrangling the brute material to make art. I see a recognizable Joseph Beuys, then Andy. But in the more elusive Man Diptych and Woman Diptych, the bust heads of the eponymous man and the woman have their eyes covered by strips of paint-crusted studio apron. Are they hostage – or refusing the encounter?

Man diptych and Woman diptych

Cox took the Man and Woman liknesses from works by the Spanish artist Antonio Lopez-Garcia who in 2011 had a retrospective at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid. The figures’ hair looks almost marbled, and their aspect is new and old, effectively de-contextualized from representational realism and all the historical referents that art history layers on things. Which in a sense appears to make this newer work for Kris Cox transitional, compared to the paintings that make up Concentric Episode series and Post-Concentric Episode series. Scored and graphical surface treatments, reinforce the surface quality of painting. As I regard the images a second time, on the online catalog, I’m aware how my eye keeps wanting to form an impression of 3-D space out of the flat surface, but the map is leading into something more phenomenological in Bone Meta, where the radiating lines are irregular, and the axis point skewed. It’s the old language-image conundrum in which no sooner do you try to assert finitude to something, than it kind of jars your sense of where you are in physical space. See the online catalog here.

Installation shot includes a view of three sculptures that employ found objects including from the artist’s travels to Indonesia.

In aggregate, it’s as if Cox’s work is asking: For all our seeking after wisdom, aren’t we fundamentally sited in the material world?

 

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