Cedric Michael Cox is currently exhibiting an array of his colorful abstractions at Clifton Cultural Arts Center. Entitled “Talking Blues”, the exhibit presents a body of larger and intermediate sized full color paintings supported by several graphite studies.
Cox bases his work on drawing and describes having become tired of color and desired to simply address the abstract forms in simple media. He found his answer in pushing the graphite pencil as he pursued interest in the work of Arshille Gorky and Cy Twombly while in school. His doodles evolved into his own idiom of Cubist language where one can also see the influence of celebrated Cubists Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris, as well as ideas from Paul Klee, whose abstracted landscape motifs are often interpreted as lyrical jazz notations.
In “The Composer”, Cox leans heavily toward Braque-like elements combining heavily angled planes and patterns that allude to musical elements such as strings on bridges or musical notations. The painting suggests a musical instrument present in a sophisticated interior, which is suggested by two rectangular geometric cityscapes on one panel on the left. One senses a hovering musical presence that never completely solidifies in the center of the composition, a configuration possibly representing the composer.
Sometimes Cox’s compositional format confronts the viewer with heavy colored elements that are oversized in relationship to the canvases’ proportions.The all-over pattern has no indication of pictorial depth. Cox employs another format that could be compared to the architectural frieze. The forms march in a riotous formation through a middle ground bordered on top and bottom with a tension relieving recessive background.
“Up in the Air”: glyphic forms in warm glowing colors ranging from golden yellow to dark burnt orange float freely in the center of a nuanced heavenly atmosphere. One can detect selected thinly veiled forms painted out with gauzy glazes while dominating shapes are accented with high chroma tangerine orange.
In “Talking Blues #2”, a cacophony of energy blasts outwards from the pictorial center in all directions. Emerging from a dark edged space, the forms generate their own eerie self-light in cooler neutrals while the dominate characters appear in cobalt blues with dark purple accents. Cox’s color ranges create the rhythmic senses of movement in his work.
A nice set, displayed as “Concrete Jungle”, “Leap of Faith 1” and “Leap of Faith 3”, exude an irrepressible optimism. Smaller shapes cavort, spatially suspended before a distant vertical pattern. Curved lines dominate, vertical lines subordinate and recede. The yellow dominated color scheme conveys the overall impression of joyfulness and whimsicality, much like a carousel experience. He presents the urban experience as one of ebullience, finding rhythms within urban life that are nearly musical. The “Leap of Faith” pieces repeat the concept in smaller formats, one in a blue based color family.
“As Miles Davis in jazz, or Picasso termed the color Blue in their art forms, Talking Blues, is my own reference to the rediscovery of past influences, and how it continues to evoke the visual experiences that arouse my senses, as I examine and interpret, the world around me, quietly and loudly.” Cedric Cox
Exhibition at the Clifton Cultural Art Center through November 5, 2015.
–Marlene Steele, paints and teaches in Cincinnati, Ohio.