Out of my Head!
Paintings and drawings from the imagination by
Decoy Café Bar Gallery, 303 Exhibition St, Melbourne
17 April - 8 June 2012
Aptly named “Out of my Head”, Cressida Fox’s exhibition of paintings and drawings at the Decoy Café, which extends from 17 April to 8 June 2012, is an exploration of wit and humour and imaginative drawing.
Cressida is an experienced artist and has won prizes and commendations in CAS exhibitions and in the Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery National Works on Paper, and designed a badge for The Phoenix Club (a non-profit organisation which funds mentoring programs for underprivileged youth).
She has put into practice the advice given by Paul Klee that an artist should learn “how to take a line for a walk.” He said that making a drawing is primarily about communicating with yourself and that drawing is a changing process, a voyage of discovery. One should follow the drawn line to whatever place it takes you and not be inhibited by a fear of making mistakes or a fear of making a drawing which does not comply with a conventional notion of external reality.
The ability to implement this advice is no doubt due in part to drafting ability but it is also dependant on a state of mental relaxation and ease. Cressida’s drawings display these qualities. She shows and has very confident use of pencil (particularly coloured pencils) and ink. Her work shows that she enjoys the process of drawing and applying colour. A good example is Cressida’s Golden Cat where coloured pencils have been applied to provide a sympathetic view of Cressida’s pet.
There are thirty six works on display. They are attractively framed and many of the paintings are small in size. This is possibly due to the fact that Cressida works at home in her flat and does not use a studio, but in any event, the smallness of some work does not diminish its impact. Thus Alien Children is 30 x 22.5 cm in size but has a strong impact partly due to the wide black mount and the strength of the drawing using coloured pencils which depict two grimacing alien creatures.
I enjoyed the satirical intention of much of the exhibited work. Cressida does not seek to merely please but portrays her subjects in a comical light where she thinks it to be appropriate. I thought that Yoga which is a work created in acrylic paint, ink and pencil (61.5 x 92 cm) was a very humorous portrayal of the very twisty process which yoga practitioners would be very familiar with. Also, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, a drawing in watercolour pencil which depicts a creature with a cigar, was taking a nice dig at pomposity.
Another aspect of the exhibition which adds to its satirical and comical nature are the titles given to the paintings and drawing. They are sometimes witty and a little cheeky, for example The Great Southern Lesser Known Bum-Faced Gekkit, Public Phonecalls, and Bored Public Servant.
However not everything in the show is satirical in intent. Some of the work is lyrical and whimsical like A Partridge in a Pear Tree, which takes its name from the well known English Christmas Carol. (On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me a partridge in a pear tree.) I liked this work because of its rich colour and dreamy quality. I also enjoyed Picnic 3 for the same reason.
Cressida’s work does not only take a satirical look at human beings but displays much delight in the humorous antics of animal-like creatures like the horsey/doggy creatures in They Said They Were Our Friends. Some of the creatures are derived from a series Cressida did for an exhibition titled Alien Beauty Queens and Their Nannas. They are not based on actual people or animals
Cressida’s formal art training consisted of a major in art and ceramics during a year and a half at teachers' college and CAE classes in drawing, painting and photography. Her skill in traditional drawing is evident from a still life study, a work in acrylic paint, ink and pencil which is a lively and competent work. However the strength of the exhibition lies in the way she has turned her skills into a very personal expression. I think that members of the Contemporary Art society will enjoy this show.
Reviewed by Nathan Moshinsky