Elegant abstraction by a master painter.
During his life, John Richard Fox received many accolades for his exhibitions in North America and Europe. With a palette that is reminiscent of the great Gorgio Morandi, he made a significant contribution to abstract painting in the 1970s and 80s.
Abstract works by John Fox from the early 1970s to the mid
1980s describe the freedom of the world of sensations. Layers of
luxurious colour and light, enigmatic shapes, plays of thick and
thin, contrasts of near and far in an intimate shallow space define
Fox’s painterly achievement. In works from 1972 to 1976, bands
of joyous colour gently overlap or nudge against each other, like
coloured air. Towards the mid 1970s, Fox’s paintings became
more simplified and more dramatic. Geometric colour shapes
float one on top of the other and paint texture becomes more
insistently sensuous. As the 1970s progressed, Fox’s remaking of
architectural forms, evoking the palazzi of Venice, are increasingly
seductive through his intensely coloured tactile surfaces. From the
late 1970s to the early 80s, he reinvented abstraction by using tape
to construct a fantastic world of rectangles, circles and indefinable
shapes that dance across the multi-coloured surface. Fox’s late
abstractions mesh the inner world of sensations with subtle
references to landscape and the body, in a sophisticated celebration
of the power and pleasure of painting.
"In 1976, Fox's work abruptly ripens. It's as if his palette had been assaulted, slammed up against a wall, and emerged bruised and gritty but more confident and subtle. His colour suddently shifts to dark tones of brown, black, blue and aubergine. He added sand and allowed bits of studio dust and grime to find their way into his paint, creating a delicately rough and textured surface.. Although outwardly abstract, surprisingly, by 177 these paintings turn into something approaching an almost sculptural realism...While many Canadian abstract paintings were being ispired by Canadian rural landscape, Fox looked instead to the urban landscape of Venice...Gritty and marked, the darly luminescent monochromes suddenly morph into tactile renderings of walls. The energetic lines produced by automatic gesture become graffiti scratches in the plaster. The metallic-like luminescence of the surface colour comes to represent the dapple of Venetian light, what the author Joseph Brodsky describes as a "pearl-laden haze." Susannah Wesley, in John Fox: Abstractions
He taught art at Concordia University for many years, and influenced generations of painters.