Ana Cristea Gallery is pleased to present “Somewhere Along The Line,” Scottish artist Steven Cox’s first solo exhibition at the gallery.
Combining elements of expressionist and geometric abstraction, Cox playfully subverts the tenets of formalism. Flat panels of color alluding to hard-edge painting are sidled next to tonally and texturally diverse sections. Within any of the works on display, and within any given sequence, many layers are encountered: layers of paint, layers of technique, layers of context. Do you take in the work in its totality and then move to each component part or read each work sequence-by-sequence, line-to-line, before taking in the whole? Upon initial view, it’s unclear whether the works flow from line to line, phrases leading from one to another, or if these are distinct panels with hard stops.
Cox’s layers offer more than mere contrast, they explore the materiality of painting. Forgoing a brush, he utilizes several methods to play with our perception of “the material.” A cast mold from polyester creates subtle folds in his initial layers of paint. Then a process of sanding breaks down these materials while fossilizing their form. Spray paint applied through Hessian Jute creates a negative refraction of the material. These heavily textured layers contrast against the gestural splashes of paint, a la Pollock, which jump from canvas.
The resulting entity emits a lyrical quality that began with the ripples from Cox’s initial mold. They seep through the grid pattern left by his stenciling, so that this under-spray reverberates through the subsequent layers of paint. Like reading lines of music or a Marcel Broodthaers poem, one doesn’t need to be fluent in an insider’s language to interpret. The rise and fall of his tonal lines abide by a universal grammar. We encounter the works from top to bottom, and then from left to right, at varying tempos and durations. Subtle tones of white push us onward and blackened lines of punctuation come to a halting stop. As we try to decipher his lines, we can’t help but consider that there might be a masterful symphony hidden, somewhere along the line.