Catch at your own risk
Walton Ford calls on the proverbial albatross to raise its wings and make a flap in "Bitter Gulfs."
By JEFFREY CYPHERS WRIGHT
In "Bitter Gulfs," a 20-foot wide watercolor, Ford has chosen the albatross as his aesthetic messenger. The painter referenced "L'Albatross" written by Charles Baudelaire in 1861, for its comparison of the poet to the albatross. "Maladroit et gauche," the albatross seems to be a less than spectacular bird and yet, the poem is about men chasing such an unlikely specimen. Likewise, in "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner," Samuel Coleridge treats the albatross as a harbinger of disaster. The title "Bitter Gulfs" seems to be a fitting and fierce political jab, while the painting itself seems to coyly take a bow.
What an odd creature, the albatross, to do as a psychological portrait by a budding Audubon a dire, yet whimsical bird almost as big as we are, staring back at us out of one eye from the deck of an old sailing vessel. The title and date, supposedly penned as an inscription in the upper corner, add to the temporal transportation. The painting beguiles us. It floods us with an overwhelming sense of the past, like a documentary. Much of its allure is the vortex stirred up by Ford's admirable displacement of time.
|Exhibition: Bitter Gulfs.|
Paintings by: Walton Ford.
| June 9 - July 9, 2004|
Gallery: Paul Kasmin Gallery
293 Tenth Ave.
New York NY
Phone: (212) 563-4474
Ford has led us on a fantastic voyage over the last decade, with his bestiary of endearing, lumbering, solitary creatures. The poses crackle with life, even while positing a certain fantastical quality. This otherworldly, animated overtone, balances the pseudo-scientific aura of nature studies, while allowing the work to evoke worlds of dusty studies in times gone by.
Brilliantly framed by the curving rail, the albatross stands in a slightly clumsy position, its oversized wings outstretched and falling to the bright wooden planks. There is the sardonic hint of a comparison with a stalwart eagle, emblem of the current realm.
|"Boca Grande."|| |
Soothing maritime hues of gray and teal, tawny orange and dun, belie the slimy fish that flop in the foreground and to the left, as if the albatross has just deposited a "gift" for the ship. Balancing them, the bowsprit and its flying jib seem disoriented. With apparent misgiving, the albatross points in the opposite direction, toward land. And throughout, Ford maintains the tension of illusionary antiquity with his sleight of hand. And through that prism of age, we can see the disquietude and unease that often accompany beauty and the requisite awkwardness that betrays, even defines, majesty.
|JULY 3, 2004|
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