INSTITUTIONALIZED | ROSSON CROW: A MIDCAREER RETROSPECTIVE AT THE MRDC, FRANCE
American by birth, Texan by the grace of god, Rosson Crow is one of the most vital and exciting painters (not to mention couture fashion plate) working today. That said, it’s only appropriate that an artist of her stature and unique vision should receive a midcareer museum retrospective at the tender age of (sorry, exact figures not available), an honor made real when her eponymous overview opened its doors to the public at the Languedoc-Roussillon Museum of Contemporary Art in Sérignan, France late last month.
In the words of the MRDC:
A member of the young contemporary art scene, Rosson Crow paints interiors void of any human presence with an energy that is disconcerting. The exhibition in Sérignan, the largest ever dedicated to her, presents ten years of her artwork, assembling paintings from European and American collections as well as previously unseen work.
Using very large formats, Rosson Crow is particularly focused on adornment, spurious and anachronistic decorative arrangements and superficial interior design. She causes centuries and models to interpenetrate armed with a distinct command of the history of European art: great historical houses; large hotel reception rooms; saloons; rodeos; casinos; fast food restaurant chains…
The interiors redesigned with strangely carpeted surfaces, disputable vanishing lines, lightly sketched bouquets of flowers, dripping chandeliers, evanescent flags and coffered ceilings become purely geometric motifs. Her elegant palette is sharp at times. With great virtuosity and freedom of expression, using adhesives, stencils, dripping paint or viscous impasto, she applies colour by means of oil, enamel or spray can.
Most of her paintings look like Hollywood film sets, historical recreations or abandoned places, with atmospheres that are at times disconcerting. Her theatrical settings enable memories to be retrieved. She examines the psychological dimension of spaces and the way in which viewers experiment with them. In her recent canvases, the space is increasingly difficult to identify. She uses ornamental and decorative motifs, intertwining lines, to create a subtle weave on the surface. She moves between figuration and almost hallucinatory abstraction blurring perception.
Rosson Crow is well versed in the history of art after studying with Professor Peter Halley. She is fascinated by European 17th and 18th century French his- tory in particular. During her trip to France in 2006, she visited many historic sites like Versailles, Fontainebleau and the châteaux in the Loire valley, but she also became absorbed by atmospheres at the Ritz Hotel and rooms in the Louvre… She took books about 18th century furniture, Le Nôtre gardens and classic interiors with her back to Los Angeles where she has been living since 2007… Rosson Crow has a great talent for expressing the globalization of culture and each of their intricacies.
Room with Bud Light, where American flags are vying for space with Tom Wesselmann and Empire furnishings, it is clear that cultural challenges and globalization through culture dominate as much as territorial issues. The bright colours, paint drips and blurred images demonstrate that this is a long way from classical harmony and model hegemony.
Rosson Crow endeavours to depict the complex history of the southern United States, where she hails from. With its protestant evangelical traditions, colonial past, the ancient institution of slavery and its separatism during the Civil War, the American South has a highly distinctive community identity that Rosson Crow assimilates into her painting, and that attests to its response to the ‘American Dream’ through violence.
In her recent paintings, the American artist takes oil painting to a higher level through her use of adhesive strips, which she has already used in previous works to create dynamic voids and structuring full areas. The resulting fragmen- tation interrupts the construction of the images and corresponds to the fractured history of the southern states to which Rosson Crow alludes.
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