Sarah Fox applies paint in shapes and colors so they play off each other, layering, editing and recasting elements until a painting, like a mystery novel, reveals the solution. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in 1975, Fox was immersed in creative pursuits that ranged from artwork to cooking. A scholarship to the University of Kansas led her to a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in painting. She then moved back to Tulsa and worked at her father’s architectural firm, though continuing to paint, from figurative work to portraits of dogs to abstraction.
However, it is in abstraction, with its appreciation for personal expression, that Fox found a home for her love of color and interest in form. Doing occasional figurative work and life drawing helped sharpen the quality of her line and her sensitivity to color. But, after trying just about everything, abstraction stuck. In 2001, she moved to Denver, and since has continued to build a strong exhibition schedule.
Her process mixes the additive and reductive. She fills a canvas with carefully chosen colors to investigate how they respond to each other, even colors that at first might seem ugly, but are transformed by neighboring hues. She adds shapes that can be interpreted as suggestions of objects or purely as abstract forms; some have a decidedly retro feel in terms of their geometric references, and often are related to the circle. On each layer, her editing involves obliterating sections that do not work and sparing those that do. After she repeats this process numerous times, a shape eventually must anchor a painting.
The editing agent which can look like generously applied black paint, is in reality the deep chocolate brown of burnt umber. Softer and more flexible than black, this material is the tool Fox uses on each layer to remove components or areas that appear intrusive. The act of repetition builds up lush, thick surfaces, where bits and pieces of different layers then begin to move beyond coexistence into resolution. The burnt umber also proves a foil for the colors that Fox loves, colors that drive her paintings through this process of experimentation. Color is the pivot upon which her work turns.
Because each painting is the culmination of such studied exercises in addition and subtraction, a body of work might reveal numerous reflections of intent and, ultimately, character. All demonstrate Fox’s love of abstraction, her demanding process of assessment and change, and her goal of letting the painting eventually present its own case for a viewer to consider the composition in question.
There is no message in Fox’s endeavors to tame color and form, no hidden truth in a painting except that of a desire to bring order to disparate elements, and to find coherence through commitment.