Thursday, April 4, 2019

Frances Cox – Hofheimer Gallery

Frances Cox, Summer, oil on canvas, 36 x 38"

A World Apart—the exhibition of vibrantly colorful oil paintings by Frances Cox and Michael Noland—will open with a reception at the Hofheimer Gallery on Friday, April 5th from 5-8 pm. 

I’ve followed the career of Frances Cox for the past decade. I was first introduced to her beautifully-organic imagery, while curating exhibitions for a small upscale gallery in Three Oaks, Michigan. At that time, she was working on a series of paintings related to a recent tsunami disaster. The imagery was powerfully haunting yet beautiful—composed of teal, blue and green organic shapes adorned with elaborate patterns. These luminous elements alluded to the tragedy that occurred in a paradisiacal environment normally bursting with an abundance of brilliant color.

Over the years, I’ve work with Cox on a variety of exhibitions. Generally, her work is botanically-inspired figurative still life, with clear references to Art Nouveau—highlighting organic design motifs including vine tendrils, flowers, and the human form. Cox’s canvases are gracefully composed, offering the viewer layer-upon-layer of detailed nuance. But the beautiful forms that emerge from the complexity are never subtle. They are bold, direct, and demanding of the viewer’s attention.

Cox explains, “When I look at plant forms, I view them as botanical singularities having the characteristics of other living things. I transfer to plants, metaphors for human feelings and appearances.”

As I previewed the exhibition, I found myself drawn to the beautiful complexity of the canvas titled Summer. This 36 x 38-inch composition plays with a variety of contrasts; the use of a complementary color pallette, large open areas juxtaposed with highly detailed modeled patterns, and a popping of light and dark.

In much of her work, Cox utilizes dark outlines to build form and distinguish shape. This technique presents a visual trail leading the captivated viewer through the composition, introducing quiet details. From a distance, yet another surprise emerges. Each canvas melds into the sum of its parts, becoming a completely new and unique abstraction.

Frances Cox, Dancing Tree, oil on canvas, 40"x40"

Dancing Tree is another gem in this collection. The 40-inch square canvas seems to be channeling the essence of Winged Victory with its flowing Grecian gown and wings raised in triumph. But the fluidity isn’t lost on me. References to Art Nouveau and the work of Will Bradley come to mind. Bradley’s poster for The Chap Book, 1895 offers similar forms. In both samples, billowing shapes seamlessly flow into one another—defining edges where none exist, repeating shape for complexity, and challenging the viewer’s perception.

A World Apart, featuring the work by Frances Cox and Michael Noland, opens Friday, April 5, with a reception from 5-8pm. The artists will be in attendance. The Hofheimer Gallery is located at 4823 N. Damen in Chicago [60625]. Gallery Hours are Wednesday through Saturday from 11-5 and by appointment. For additional information contact the gallery at 847.274.7550 or visit …A World Apart continues through April 25, 2019.

Frances A. Cox was raised in Chicago, Illinois, graduated from Marquette University and attended the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been exhibited nationally, earning Cox well-deserved recognition and numerous awards.

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