Belinda Fox: Drawing a Line
Michael Reid Berlin
6 July – 1 September, 2018
There is an interweaving thread that works its way through Belinda Fox’s first solo exhibition in Berlin. Materiality and technique connect each individual work, which collectively embodies a Janus perspective. Janus, the Roman deity looked simultaneously forward and back, a dialogue that speaks to the intentional layering and transition found at the core of Fox’s practice.
Indigo blue woodcut prints on delicate Japanese paper line two walls of Ackerstrasse 163, their web-like patterning feeding into large painted works placed on top. You never said I and II, 2018, both watercolour and drawing on clayboard, pay homage to the artists grandfathers. The use of flowers are a common motif for Fox and here the poppy, a signifier of remembrance is drawn upon. Collaged layers of Richard Flanagan’s book The Narrow Road to the Deep North, are weaved within, quietly giving presence to histories – complicated or once left unspoken. Buffed wax, sheens at different points on each of the paintings surfaces as if highlighting the entanglement of past with the present.
Two diptychs, Drawing a Line I and II, 2018, reveal bare woodcut surfaces referencing the artists’ printmaking roots. Again, the web-like pattern within the woodcut panel connects to the painting on the diptychs opposing side. Considered a thread, a net, or indeed a line, as beaconed by the title, there is a constant within each work. Effectively each piece can stand alone, but inevitably they can fit or come together as a united whole. Described as a “tightrope” by the artist, the webbing “is like a network that binds and embraces, and weaves stories into my world. It reminds us how all our actions have consequences, and all actions connect us to each other. This ripple effect can be a positive and a negative”.
Fluorescent orange highlights the web-like pattern in A few moments I and II, 2018, and rims the frames of the diptychs. The distinctive tone, was utilised by Fox in a recent collaboration with ceramicist Neville French on the refugee crisis, the colour indicative of life vests. Titled Tilt, 2017, Fox’s two by six meter drawing enveloped the exhibition space alongside distorted ceramics referencing “vessels or bodies tossed from a shipwreck.” A humanist, Fox’s works grapple polarities – cruelty and compassion, uncertainty and harmony. Whilst highlighting instabilities Fox quite literally draws the line, illustrating the interconnectedness and resilience lying in the undercurrent. In Drawing a Line II, a crow looks out of the frame, a witness, Fox describes to the nonsense and messiness of it all.
Earthly tones within each work are grounding, and delicate flowers gesture potential growth and transformation. Although a single line can delineate a place or a position, Fox’s constellation expresses balance, that fragility and strength have equal place.
Laura Thompson, 2018