Cincinnati Artist Cedric Michael Cox is exploring selected pieces from the collection of the Taft Museum of Art in his a new series of acrylics, entitled “Color & Rhythm” currently exhibited on site.
The Taft Museum, a National historic landmark, was built about 1820 and is considered one of the finest examples of Federal architecture in the Palladian style in the country. Among the many notable residents of this important villa, Nicholas Longworth stands out as an impressive entrepreneur who hired African American painter Robert S. Duncanson to paint several landscape murals in his foyer. Duncanson, having studied abroad, produced one of the finest suites of domestic murals dating from before the Civil War.
The Museum was also home to Charles Phelps Taft, half-brother to William Howard Taft, who accepted the nomination for U.S. President underneath the house’s portico.
The resident Taft family traveled extensively and built a multifaceted private collection which was bequeathed to the people of Cincinnati in 1927.
For this exhibition, Cox has interpreted several collection pieces through the prism of his rhythmic, colorful fantasy style.
“Duncanson Delight” 2 large vertical landscapes employing the muralist’s dramatic vertical format are mounted on the left wall. Compare these works to the Duncanson murals that inspired them and recognize a number of similarities: the dramatic scale of sky to landscape, a beautiful sunset framed by impressive tree specimens in various stages of life and a winding river, meandering into the foreground. Cox’s revisioned trees undulate in his rhythmic style into a sky of vivid oranges and pinks replicating Duncanson’s dramatic naturally depicted sunset. Cox’s painting also portrays a particular river flowing through the foreground toward the viewer, winding around to a distant horizon of violet and gold mountains. Colorful shapes and lines evoking natural forms swoop, swirl, and intersect, leading the eye around these dynamic elements.
In another work, Cox creates a floral fantasy echoing elements of a Dutch stillife and impressions of forms on Chinese porcelains with an unusual twist. Traditionally, Cox’s rhythmic forms dominate his canvases, interacting with an analogous or complimentary color ground.
In this work, Cox reverses the dominating role of his figures by placing them in the background and introduces a large writhing tulip and various iris shapes abstracted from the aforementioned collection pieces in the foreground. Cox’s abstractions fill the upper air in the painting, a startling arrangement that weaves suggestive natural forms with random fantasy shapes in a riotous spacial format.
This exhibition also features a selection of small acrylics that resolve Cox’s typical abstract fantasies in a variety of analogous color schemes.
Though the exhibit is mounted in a small venue, the viewer will be engaged with the artist’s colorful and uplifting stylings.
Exhibition at the Taft Museum of Art Sinton Gallery through June 25th, 2017.
Marlene Steele, paints and teaches in Cincinnati, Ohio.