- artist's statement
- about form/unformed
|BACKGROUND to top
VAL M COX started painting in the mid-1960s and first exhibited in 1968. Works in oil on canvas predominate among his paintings although he has worked in acrylic and continues to work on paper. His body of work includes individual, non-commissioned paintings as well as space-specific commissions.
His craft developed through studio experience. In 1972 he joined the Taliesin Fellowship where he continued creative work in the visual arts and as harpsichordist in addition to fulfilling administrative responsibilities. In 1984 he resumed independent full-time painting and sculpture.
ARTIST'S STATEMENT to top
"Paintings, for me, are conduits of abstract information," Cox comments. "Documents from which viewers can receive according to individual temperament and need. They're neither 'pictures' of anything nor do they contain subject matter nor are they personal statements. They are what you see--color and form."
Since the early 1980s Cox has worked on a continuing series in oil on canvas, form/unformed. He describes these works as "multi-planar, a synthesis of painting and sculpture in which the surfaces of paintings are contoured and shaped, sometimes composed of multiple panels to form a single canvas." Cox says the series developed from his desire to find forms that "participate in the space of their environment. They impinge on surrounding space and encourage the viewer to move in space. As with sculpture, no single vantage point reveals the entire painting. People have to move to see everything. Since the series uses space as a medium I describe the media as oil/canvas/space."
ABOUT FORM/UNFORMED to top
Cox remarks that, "though many people and traditions place importance on names and naming, I question the promise of comprehensibility and context that words represent. My work carries a certain subterfuge of words and names. First, it bridges painting and sculpture in an idiom for which there is no accepted terminology. Second, the works themselves are abstract and lack reference to the visible world, my personal life or other describable matter.Third, in lieu of titles I follow the lead of others by designating works solely by catalog numbers. Though results are often mixed, my subterfuge is successful to the extent that it is just as difficult for people, including me, to know when a painting was done as it is to know which painting they're discussing. With no title or subject matter for reference, people can only speak obliquely of a work: 'That long red canvas with the curved right edge.' Often several attempts are needed before both of us can be reasonably sure which painting we're discussing.
"I like this difficulty since it gives almost nothing for viewers to grasp when approaching my work. With minimum context to consider, viewers are compelled to experience the work fairly directly and unencumbered. At least such experience is favored. But words are expected so I found a term for the ongoing series that includes most of my work since the mid-1980s. With no deliberation form/unformed came to my mind and has stuck to this day. I don't know the meaning of form/unformed but it seems to fit."
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