Jason Fox
The Upper Depths

January 15 – March 7, 2009
at Peter Blum SoHo

As Below, So Above

ARTslanT
February 10, 2009

When an artist of any kind cultivates a particular style that characterizes their work it can be both terrifying and rejuvenating to see them abandon that style, especially if it’s brought financial rewards and critical praise. It’s a brave move every time, regardless of the calculation or the inspiration, but bravery alone guarantees nothing except a departure—the flight and the landing require a combination of concentration, precision, and complete dedication to purpose. The Upper Depths is a record of Jason Fox’s artistic departure from cartoony pop imagery into the vast lands of abstraction.

The Upper Depths is bold, and if it could quote, it would probably scream. Twenty five paintings, all red, fill the white walls of the gallery. Paint is dashed, smeared, washed, and worked in muted hues of brown and black. Abstract forms morph into suggestions of figures, faces, and the remnants or impressions of imagined places. Yet in this melee of physical brushwork there are moments of delicacy and accuracy, signs of considered reflection in what could at first seem dramatically nonchalant. In one red landscape the winds of abstract expressionism blow heavily across the canvas in shadowy brown strokes, creating an atmosphere in which a flock of crows have taken flight.

The paintings exude a sense of openness and daring, a willingness to explore, to experiment. They are The Upper Depths—the top of the bottom—like a peak or an apex in some deep place, an awe evoking point of transition. They create a space that feels fierce and loud, yet beautiful and exhilarating. Fox has demonstrated his artistic virtuosity with this eye-grabbing exhibition of abstract paintings.

- CHARLIE SCHULTZ