KEVIN FORD, “A PIECE IS LOOSE”

The Commercial Appeal - Go Memphis - - ARTS -

The great mys­tery of art lies in the process by which an artist uses a medium — oil or acrylic paints, pen and ink, pen­cil — and dis­trib­utes it on a sur­face, which could be can­vas, panel or pa­per, and im­bues the ob­ject de­picted with such an aura of unim­peach­able ex­pe­ri­en­tial there­ness that it af­fects not merely the viewer’s sen­si­bil­ity but the mem­ory and the day it­self. From carafes of wine in Dutch still-life paint­ings to Cezanne’s ap­ples to Warhol’s soup cans, artists for hun­dreds of years have taken the re­al­ity of mun­dane ar­ti­facts and raised them a state of a supreme aware­ness that seems to run both di­rec­tions.

I felt that way about the small painting of a choco­late glazed dough­nut by Kevin Ford that was in­cluded in the group ex­hi­bi­tion “Cops,” that ran at Tops Gallery in Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary. Now, in a solo show, “A Piece Is Loose,” at Tops through April 9, Ford has a chance to ex­pand his reach. While the main gallery is de­voted to eight paint­ings, sev­eral quite large and the oth­ers close to tiny, most of the work con­sists of ink on pa­per draw­ings that mea­sure 9-by-12-inches, hor­i­zon­tal or ver­ti­cal.

Twelve of these draw­ings, ar­ranged in a grid, in­volve feet and shoes, al­most to a fetishis­tic ex­tent, though the un­der­cur­rent of wit keeps us from will­fully delv­ing into any psy­cho­log­i­cal morass. These draw­ings, and the oth­ers in the front room, in­dulge in feats of hy­per­bole that will re­mind view­ers of Philip Gus­ton’s late car­toon­like work or the comic books of R. Crumb, Tops Gallery through April 9 400 S. Front St., en­trance on Hul­ing Av­enue Email info@tops­gallery. com

with their bul­bous shapes and ex­ag­ger­ated ap­pendages. Un­like those artists, how­ever, Ford elim­i­nates even the hint of nar­ra­tive from his pieces, fo­cus­ing solely and closely on the ob­ject at hand, as it were.

Shoes and feet show up in two colos­sal oil on can­vas paint­ings, ti­tled, of course, “Shoe” — 50-by-67.5-inches — and “Foot (Pink)”, tip­ping the scale at 72-by-57.5-inches. The shoe is a giant brown plat­form style, posed against a brushy light blue back­ground, while the foot is, yes, a hu­mon­gous pink foot and lower leg in all their hot, feral, mon­u­men­tal glory.

Most im­pres­sive, though, are five small acrylic on linen paint­ings that at­tain, in their sin­gu­lar con­cen­tra­tion and vision — like that darn choco­late glazed dough­nut — a level of tran­scen­dent ide­al­ism. These por­tray, again in tight closeup, an “Etr­uscan” vase, a gray shoe, a vase with flower dec­o­ra­tions and two “mole­skins,” tan and gray. (The fa­mous lit­tle note­books, as many peo­ple know, are called Mole­sk­ine, and they con­tain no skins of small furry ground­mam­mals.) There is a point at which we look at a painting from inches away and see that it con­sists of a few blurry LEFT: Kevin Ford, “Mole­skin (Gray),” acrylic on can­vas, 9X12 inches. brush-strokes and swathes of pig­ment that, as we back off, co­a­lesce into a rec­og­niz­able ob­ject that, de­spite its known shape and em­ploy­ment, func­tions as the re­flec­tion of its own ex­is­tence. This is the sphere where beauty in­hab­its the spa­ces of pure form. Gallery Ten Ninety One, 7151 Cherry Farms Road (WKNO Dig­i­tal Me­dia Cen­ter), Cor­dova: Janet Weed Beaver: “Horses, Farms, and Fairy Tales,” Mon­day through April 28. Re­cep­tion 2-4 p.m. April 10. Hours: 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Mon­day through Fri­day. 901-458-2521. wkno.org. Ger­man­town Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, 1801 Ex­eter Road, Ger­man­town: Karen Pulfer Focht: “The Time Catcher,” Tues­day through May 1. Artist re­cep­tion 4-6 p.m. April 17. Photo ex­hibit and art sale fea­tur­ing Focht, for­mer Com­mer­cial Ap­peal award­win­ning staff pho­to­jour­nal­ist. 901-751-7500. karen­pulfer­focht.com. Ger­man­town Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter, 1801 Ex­eter Road, Ger­man­town: Mar­itucker Hane­mann: “Close Scapes” artist re­cep­tion, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Satur­day. Ex­hi­bi­tion ends Mon­day. 901-751-7500. Gpacweb.com. Mem­phis Botanic Gar­den, 750 Cherry Road (Audubon Park): Matthew Lee: “Wa­ter Scenes in Oils,” “plein air” paint­ings fea­tur­ing wa­ter scenes, Fri­day through April 27. Open­ing re­cep­tion 2-4 p.m. Sun­day. Also on ex­hibit, Phyl­lis Boger: “Bits and Pieces,” Fri­day through April 27 in Fratelli’s Cafe Gallery. Hours: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Mon­day through Satur­day. All works for sale. Call 901-636-4100. Mem­phis Col­lege of Art, 1930 Poplar in Over­ton Park: The “2016 Spring BFA Ex­hi­bi­tion” — Part 1 on view through April 18 in Rust Hall Main Gallery, with a re­cep­tion 6-8 p.m. Fri­day. Part 2 on view April 22-May 7 with a re­cep­tion 6-8 p.m. April 22. Be­tween the two parts, work from over 40 artists in me­dia rang­ing from painting and sculp­ture to il­lus­tra­tion and graphic de­sign. 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Mon­day through Fri­day; 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Satur­day; and noon-4 p.m. Sun­day. mca.edu L Ross Gallery, 5040 Sanderlin, Suite 104: Lisa Jen­nings: “Sanc­tu­ar­ies” and But­ler Stel­te­meier: “Gath­er­ing with Old Friends,” through April 30. Open­ing re­cep­tion 6-8 p.m. Fri­day. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tues­day through Fri­day; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Satur­day. Call 901-767-2200. Lross­gallery.com. RS An­tiques & Art, 700 S. Mendenhall: Open­ing re­cep­tion for Jen­nifer Wil­son, 5-8 p.m. Fri­day, with en­ter­tain­ment by Bil­lie Dove. Hours: 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Mon­day through Fri­day; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Satur­day; 1-4 p.m. Sun­day. 901-417-8315. rsan­tique­san­dart@gmail.com St. Ge­orge’s Epis­co­pal Church (Art Gallery), 2425 S. Ger­man­town Road, Ger­man­town: “Melange,” an art show fea­tur­ing mem­bers of the Al­liance Française — Mem­phis chap­ter. Fri­day through April 24 with a re­cep­tion to meet the artists, 6-8 p.m. April 8. Six­teen artist­mem­bers dis­play their works in var­i­ous me­dia. Hours: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. week­days; and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Sun­day.

ABOVE: Kevin Ford, in­stal­la­tion im­age, ink on pa­per, each 9X12 inches.

PHOTOS COURTESY TOPS GALLERY

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