Recent works by Pius Fox
28.09.17 - 11.11.17
Pius Fox’s second solo exhibition at Patrick Heide Contemporary Art is an exciting discovery tour – for connoisseurs of his oeuvre as well as for the curious who encounter his works for the first time. As the title Alvar and its reference to a plain landscape with little or no soil and vegetation indicates, the new works are not as opulent in composition and colour as some of his earlier ones. More complex in structure and experimental in execution, in some cases even cryptic, the beholder is challenged to a prolonged contemplation in order to fully capture the amenity of these paintings and works on paper. Though defined by simplicity, many works reveal a great freedom, deliberately switching between abstract and figurative, between monochrome and colourful. Some are minimalistic in their display featuring geometric shapes, others are symbolically charged through titles such as Aus dem Geiste der Musik (from the spirit of music) or Planetenfenster (planet window).
Fox is a painter who appreciates traditional materials like oil on canvas or paper as well as watercolour, but he also works with other media: drawing, photography and printing. The visually reduced subject matters as well as the idiosyncrasy of his small-format compositions and an under-keyed variety of colours might initially give the impression that we easily capture at a single glance what is on offer. On second inspection however, colours shimmer through from layers beneath, hints of repeatedly overpainted elements and scratches appear on the surface as we sense that there is more to detect in these works full of density and concentrated imagery. Once we overcome the painted or drawn frames, which surround a big part of his works, the discovery doesn’t terminate on the surface yet develops into further depth. Avoiding to depict something we already know, Fox wants us to uncover the work’s own motif and composition, most of which happens in the sphere of our imagination: the hidden, the non-obvious and the possible.
Verzogen und Verwachsen (2017) for example is an abstract pattern of lines on black ground. Filigran stripes, which disperse over the image surface like cracks in a wall or chalk marks on a slate. Lines that cross, overlap, go astray and re-orientate. Again, the work is framed by a border, which re-inforces the inner composition. Milchglas (2017) on the other hand is an abstract work, which introduces another important element: colour, which plays a central role and is often a starting point for the pictorial content. Fox thereby reverts to secondary and tertiary colours, frequently coloured grey tones: antique pink, greygreen, a blue or purple black. In this case however, it is strong yellow and blue tones, muted behind frosted glass as the title foretells.
Alvar is an invitation to decode what makes Pius Fox’s works so unique as he continues and progresses from what set the tone for his young yet varied ouevre in earlier survey presentations like his solo exhibition at FRAC Auvergne in 2016.