David Bates: Southern Coast and Mark Fox
Sep 7 — Oct 28, 2017
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Berggruen Gallery is pleased to present two solo exhibitions by artists David Bates and Mark Fox. David Bates: Southern Coast and Mark Fox will be on view September 7 – October 28, 2017.
David Bates: Southern Coast marks David’s twelfth solo exhibition with the gallery. Steeped in experience and tempered by personal memory, the twenty paintings included in this exhibition celebrate Bates’ penchant for capturing the raw emotional immediacy of his subject, be it a place, a person, or an object. Throughout his artistic career, spanning more than forty years, Bates has revisited the most classical forms of painting—still life, landscape, and portraiture—each firmly rooted in biographical references most often from his experiences hunting and fishing in East Texas and along the Gulf Coast. In an interview with Michael Auping, longtime Chief Curator of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Bates discloses, “I wasn’t good at making art about art. Once I had a real person or a story, I could use painting to magnify it. Magnifying reality is much more interesting to me than just making things up. For me to make art…I need a place to go, an adventure, and the challenge of re-creating that experience in paint.” Consequently, the subject matter of Bates’s paintings invests greatly in what he calls, “blue-collar heroism,” referring to his figures or subjects that, in the vein of a Cézanne or a Courbet, are interesting because of, not despite, their anonymity.
Mark Fox, the artist’s first solo exhibition with the gallery, will highlight new large and small-scale drawings and sculptures from Fox’s most recent explorations into the potential of paper. To the artist, paper is simultaneously a two-dimensional support and three-dimensional form, both object and subject, both physical and abstract. In Fox’s studio practice, everything starts with drawing. A combination of random and intentional mark-making contributes to a whimsical visual lexicon that includes doodles, cartoon figures, cultural icons, innuendo, and word play. Fox then combines his drawings into a sculptural whole that specifically incorporates his personal method for corrugating drawings to create sheets of handmade “cardboard,” which the artist then uses as building elements for sculptures or as surfaces upon which he can enact further image-making. As his drawings disappear into hundreds of cardboard sheets, Fox combines and layers these to create a rigid rectilinear surface. He cuts into or peels away areas of the outermost layer, revealing unexpected associations and random juxtapositions. Confronted with this inadvertent pastiche of his own drawn subjectivity, Fox responds by making intentional marks on the surface of each work. In this way, Fox both reveals and obfuscates information, making his private thoughts public one moment and redacting them the next.