Howard Scott Gallery is pleased to announce the opening, on Thursday, 6 October, of a solo exhibition by the New York artist, Ford Crull. All of the paintings and works on paper which will compose this exhibition - titled Samba by the artist - were made during 2005 in direct response to the artist's two sojourns in Rio de Janeiro (February and April of this year), his first visits to South America.
His reactions to the physical beauty of both the fabled city and its populace are vividly reflected in his new works, beginning with the tablet-sized sheets worked in watercolor, graphite, and oil stick - a sort of visual diary - made in his hotel room overlooking Rio. This same spirit - inspired by the citizens' embrace of the music, dance, color, and dramatic environment and the open sensuousness of daily existence - also pervades the larger works on paper and the paintings made upon his return to New York after both visits.
Those who have followed the painter's work during the past decade or longer will immediately see evidence of the joy and spontaneity he experienced in making these recent paintings and drawings. Perhaps the most readily observed development will be the importance given - within his signature all-over, calligraphic mark-making - to fragments of human anatomy. Newly prominent amongst his broad range of iconography (which has always been in a state of renewal and reinvigoration), these single and multiple heads and women's torsos (the character of which ranges from sensual to the frankly sexual) offer a sharp contrast, in their linearity and openness, to the often densely painted symbols and passages of abstract brushwork. Interesting to know, he drew all of these anatomical elements while looking away from the sheet of paper or canvas, giving the resulting images something of the immediacy of the Surrealists' automatic writing as well as echoing the tension between the lyrical and the verging-upon-grotesque which could be said to characterize the drawing of the human figure by some of the greatest German Expressionists.
Another significant development is the light which emanates from these new works. Vanished are Crull's richly painted, fiery red, evocative blue, and near black fields: the white of the paper's surface and the bright whites of the paintings' gessoed grounds carry with them the brilliant sunlight of Brazil !
The work of Mr Crull was first seen publicly in New York in the East Village during the heady days of the mid-1980s and was widely admired in those years by fellow artists and critics for the bravura of its graphic elements and the role of color, as well as for its fantastical visual language and compressed energy. But as his work continues to develop and to shift emotional focus, it has also taken on a more contemplative spirit and has become more strongly evocative of a Symbolist sensibility. [ The artist's journals indicate an ongoing sympathy for the work of certain Symbolist poets and painters of the late-19th century, including Ensor and Redon, a connective thread remarked upon, over the years, by a number of distinguished critics.]
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Ford Crull was born in Boston in 1952, grew up and was educated in Seattle, and has lived and worked in lower Manhattan for many years. The forthcoming exhibition will be his fifty-first solo show and the eighth with Howard Scott. He had a solo exhibition at the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts (Alabama) in 2000, accompanied by a catalogue, and had his debut solo exhibition in Europe in March of 2002 at Arte 92 in Milan. His work is held in collections in Europe and throughout the United States, including those of The National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.