Walton Ford – Louisiana Contemporary
12 November 2010 – 6 March 2011
Walton Ford is a brilliant artist in the classical sense and at the same time an impressive and truly contemporary storyteller. His large, masterful watercolours of animals are at once seducing and alarming – full of vivid colours, bizarre clues and surreal symbolism.
The exhibition of works by American artist Walton Ford (b. 1960 in Larchmont, NY) was the first presentation in Scandinavia of this distinctive artist. Walton Ford paints watercolours populated with animals of all kinds: birds, fish, monkeys, oxen, tigers and lions, either consuming and fighting one another bestially or being mutilated by human beings in a grim, inscrutable yet beautiful universe.
Everything in the artist’s pictorial fables is painted with a wealth of details and accuracy that lures the viewer into a close study of almost every brush stroke. Stylistically, Walton Ford’s animal tales recall classic naturalistic, zoological illustrations from a bygone age, executed with technical perfection; but on close examination they are far from the objectivity to which science aspires; rather, they are strangely horrifying representations of among other things the lust for power and evil, sometimes with a humorous angle. In addition, Walton Ford’s watercolours, devoid of human figures, stand out in being surprisingly large, since the animals are shown life-size.
The artist’s pictures have literary, historical and scientific sources, and Ford’s pictures are accompanied by quotations that form a textual counterpart to the narrative of the picture, all with animals as the primary focus – although often symbolically. The works are complex and satirical, and they take a critical attitude to many aspects of our history and the present day, including ever-relevant issues like industrialization, colonization and man’s impact on the environment.
Innumerable visits since his youth to museums of natural history in USA have been Walton Ford’s great source of inspiration, but he has also made a thorough study of the American ornithologist and animal painter John James Audubon (1785-1851). Ford trained as a designer at BFA, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode Island and on the Rhode Island School of Design’s European Honors Program in Rome, Italy.