The Word Made Art – Studio Visit with Mark Fox
I became acquainted with Mark Fox’s work three years ago while visiting one of the parallel fairs that happen during Art Basel Miami Beach. I was immediately struck by the originality of his art and the enormous amount of labor and detail present in each of his pieces. One of my clients wanted a large shadow box that framed hundreds of interlaced word cut-outs made of paper, ink, watercolor, crayon, ink and gouache forming an amazing installation that seemed a spider web – but of course the piece was already sold out and it was clear why – it was one of the best pieces we had seen during our hunt for innovative and unusual art.
The interesting thing is that Mark’s artworks are not randomly put together; the word selection is meaningful and may reflect books that are well-known and impactful, religious iconography, catholic writings, folk tales, references to pop culture and anything that may be of interest to Mark at a particular time. But he doesn’t stop there: Fox’s art occasionally incorporates shapes, silhouettes and different designs that mock or expand the criticism that he is trying to elaborate. And he works with other materials like laser-cut stainless steel using the same foundation of words, resulting in incredible installations such as the site-specific one that he made for a large office space in the Seagram Building in Midtown or the Alexander Hotel in Indianapolis. His work is also in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art among others.
2013 was a very busy year for Mark who had solo shows at Galeria Pilar in Sao Paulo and Hiram Butler Gallery in Texas and participated in group shows with Robert Miller Gallery and Joshua Liner Gallery both in NYC and [Artspace] at Untitled in Oklahoma City and he also produced a very cool series of three dimensional prints with Universal Limited Art Editions.
I was elated to see his newest body of work in his sunny and large TriBeCa studio. His handmade cardboard sculptures intersperse his own drawings and writings with which he creates different structures that vary between shapes that look like giant honeycombs to some that look like buildings. The beauty of Mark’s art is that it is so wonderful to live with and so easy to collect and display. From ceilings to corners, every surface in any given space could happily welcome one of Mark’s colorful pieces. And they challenge the mind and the eye and invite contemplation; this is the kind of artwork that I always tell my clients to look for (and also the one that I look for myself): the one that is aesthetically strong, shows a unique and elaborate technique, requires a good amount of manual labor and once is finished keeps people guessing, looking for new cues and finding new interpretations each time.