Danny Fox of Kingsley Ifill
Encouraged by the change of perspective as a result of his change of location and scene, Fox decided to step up his dedication and cultivate a multimedia process that includes photos, drawings and paintings that create visual bombs at every point. The motifs posed at Fox and sat for photos and drawings – which then became the starting material for original-size paintings.
For the photos, Fox hired old friend and colleague Kingsley Ifill to record his new studies. Ifill’s photos were developed on the spot in an ad hoc dark room, which Fox then minimally embellished with discarded product labels, text, and marginalia. The young, sinewy figures occupy the sparse, dry desert backdrop, which refers to the canyon connections of days gone by, be it the Laurel Canyon Mamas & Papas clan or further west to the Spahn Ranch and the Manson children. Fox’s drawings then refer to Ifill’s portraits, but take on a life of their own and benefit from the artist’s reduced lines and the silent disregard for perspective. (Both the photos and the drawings are now at Eighteen in Copenhagen and provide material for the exciting companion book “Eye for a stable, tooth for the roof”.)
The photo of Kingley Ifill on the right is treated with Danny Fox in both the photo itself and the paper on the left.
Fox’s exhibition in Berggruen, meanwhile, consists of paintings that mirror these photos and drawings – a soaked row of opulent canvases arranged around solo figures. Mostly female, the characters smoke, they spread stuffed animals, they cross their knees in seductive contempt, they eyeball us with occasional contempt, they spread across the ground or invite us to follow them deeper into the canyon.
One signature of Fox’s work is the use of snippets of text both inside and outside its frame. “His writing leaves clues that a viewer can put together and serves as a kind of primer for the experience one can have while looking at his pictures,” says Alex Berggruen. “Some fonts even affect the images themselves.” In a painting by “TSABH” a headstrong brunette sits on a simple chair, a cake is missing a single slice at her feet, the text “HOUSE OF PIES” runs along the base of the composition, a melancholy allusion to the rest of the neighborhood classic Dinner and the Nighthawks that feed it.
I take on Fox that it feels no different from a great album where the work conveys a single moment but also evokes a whole journey. “I always see shows as albums,” says Fox. “I use this to sum up certain moments and not worry if it’s not branded. I even think sometimes, ah, shit, I’m making a bad album here. But I also like that feeling – like it was the 80s Dylan album that one day you will understand. “