Gallery NAGA’s 46th Season Concludes

Rick Fox: From Feral Footing and Masako Kamiya: Kaleidoscope

By: - Jun 06, 2023

Gallery NAGA’s 46th season concludes with an exhibition by two mid-career painters working in exuberant colors and venturesome compositions.
Rick Fox: From Feral Footing and Masako Kamiya: Kaleidoscope are both on exhibition from June 9 through July 14.  A reception for the artists and the public will be held at the gallery on Friday, June 9 from 5 to 7 pm.  A walk-through with both artists will be held at the gallery on Saturday, June 10 at 2 pm.  Reservations are not required.
While her technique has subtly shifted over the past two decades, Masako Kamiya continues to use singularly unique mark-marking in creating her paintings.  Using acrylic gouache, she puts down a dot of paint, lets it dry, then adds another.  She repeats the process until stalactites of differing heights emerge.  Each layer on the surface, or dot, is of a different color, so the work, observed from an angle, becomes a forest of multi-colored columns.  Kamiya explains further, “In the spring of 2020, the pandemic arrived.   Physically isolated, we were shifted to virtual communication with the world. As we began to channel our way through the digital screen in isolation every day, the gridded layout felt most authentic.  In my painting, I looked for reliable underpinning structures and craved feelings of reciprocity in the physical and laborious paint application.  On the rigid linear mesh, I am mapping my marks which are reminders of my hand movement and their touch on the surface.”
Seen from straight on, a star or diamond shape emerges from the composition on many of Kamiya’s works on paper.  This star-like form, not symbolic in any way, allows her to organize her marks.  Kamiya’s work is process oriented; the grid and shape allow her to create structure and symmetry.  
Visual details like these facets enhance the sculptural quality of Kamiya’s work, which encourages the viewer to interact with the work from every angle.  Kamiya comments on the sculptural aspect of her work: “My intention is to challenge the way a painting is conventionally perceived.  The sculptural surface moves viewers across the field of the painting.  This forces the viewer’s eyes to mix and optically process the various properties of color.  Ultimately, the viewers experience the subtle metamorphosis of the colors in the painting as the painting shifts from two dimensions to three dimensions and back again, according to the viewer’s angle to and distance from the work.”  
She continues, “My recent paintings are more playful and joyful as they unfurl the prismatic spectacle and reflect the pursuit of wonder, curiosity, and marvel within the pictorial confines.  Painting is increasingly a redemptive process, as I gather paint marks to recover a new perceptual balance, as I compensate for the loss of my physical balance.  I am in the process of discovering the endless play of forms and colors and the feeling of exuberance.”
Rick Fox paints landscapes almost entirely plein air.  Teaching and residing on the southern coast of Maine, he is surrounded by natural beauty; he visits the same spot repeatedly, never tiring of the view.  The light, time of day, and season create vastly different paintings from one to the other. 
“Eleven months ago, I stepped away from a full-time teaching career.  Almost immediately my relationship to painting shifted.  There was no longer a need to articulate, rationalize, categorize, or reduce the practice of painting to manageable components.  I was confronted with a refreshing kind of amorality.  I was free from expectations or aspirations to dress painting up as a socially and culturally redeeming activity.  The act of painting was allowed to be . . .  gloriously complex, mysterious, and uncertain.  This new freedom created space for a new octave to show up.  Tendrils of previously unavailable frequencies seemed to extend an invitation for new calibration through color shape and paint application.  With a deliberate intention to participate and to my way through this calibration, these paintings are documents of recent experiences with the landscape be . . .  experiences that can sometimes feel like drinking from a firehose, with painting offering itself as the adjustable valve.”
Each painting has a vivacity of application and color, even though they are all small in scale.  They are gutsy, surprising, and sometimes chaotic.  His paint, applied mostly using a palette knife, is laid down in thick, confident strokes with one streak bumping up against another and sometimes merging.  Occasionally, small areas of the surface of a painting will appear to have been scraped away to reveal a wash of color instead of Fox’s characteristic pile of paint.  It’s in these small moments that the viewer may wonder, if Fox is after more than just beauty—it's a thoroughly considered labor.
Fox was the 2022 recipient of The New Hampshire Charitable Foundation’s Piscataqua Region Artist Advancement Grant.  --  all this work was created with its support.