Carl Fudge The Black Country October 20 - November 26, 2011
Galerie Richard opens its second exhibition in Chelsea, New York, on October 20th, 2011 with a new body of work by Carl Fudge, entitled The Black Country. Carl Fudge is one of the early practitioners of incorporating digital processes into the painters practice.
The Black Country refers to an area in the West Midlands in England, Fudge’s native country. During the industrial revolution this region had become one of the most intensely compromised in the nation. Coalmines, iron foundries and steel mills had left their black mark on the landscape. Edward Wadsworth, associated with Vorticism, made slagheaps and furnaces the subjects for a series of woodcuts. Wadsworth’s woodcuts provide a point of departure for Fudge in this new group of paintings and woodcut prints. What is fascinating is Fudge’s ability to retain the influence of Wadsworth’s traditional woodcuts even while deconstructing them through a digital process. Because this series uses mainly a red palette, the viewer may decipher images of a crumbling city plagued by crisis. In this way, The Black Country has a pulse which strikes a chord with the present political landscape we find ourselves in today.
Fudge’s digital deconstruction of these images matches the exposed and harsh nature of Wadsworth’s landscapes and townscapes. Using the computer as an abstracting tool, Fudge converts his found images into complex new ones updating the relationship between abstraction and the figurative. This is an exploration of the terrain between materiality and virtuality, pattern and mutation, and order and chaos. Fudge usually begins with printmaking then moves on to painting. He is well known as a printmaking master in the New York artist community, and his new set of ten woodcut prints exhibited in this show beautifully convey his skills. While Fudge’s prints reference the artwork of twentieth century European artists from Russia, Germany and so on, it is interesting to notice some viewers referencing Fudge’s new paintings to primitive tribal art from all five continents. The deconstructive and digitized process of Fudge’s works brings them to a place distant from its origin. Despite this sense of displacement, the viewers can feel an unexpected sense of rawness and vigor, likewise to the energy felt when viewing tribal art.
Fudge states that he investigates both the practical and aestheticized format of camouflage within abstraction. The artist writes, “Both the duplicity, history and even implicit psychology of ‘cover’ are generative subjects for my painting.” The imagery in his work disintegrates into a landscape of mechanical modules, which is subject to its own metamorphoses. He manages to enhance the aesthetics of the original work while paying homage to them. The same modules that initially appear familiar remain elusive. In this work Fudge aims to capture the beautiful precision of a digital aesthetic whilst continuing to celebrate the sensualities and possibilities of painting. Conceptually and formally, Fudge’s practice deals with the process of building and deconstructing the multiple layers of iconography.
Originating with Wadsworth's woodcuts that depict the landscapes of the Industrial Revolution in England, then decomposed and fragmented on the computer, relating to the Digital Revolution, these new works are profoundly pertinent to describe the two major events that shape our present way of life. If Art is the ultimate visual way to represent and form a civilization, Fudge's set of works from The Black Country is a great achievement.
Carl Fudge has had four solo exhibits with Galerie Richard in Paris between 2003 and 2010. His paintings are part of the collections of The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Philadelphia Museum of Art, to name but a few. Fudge has been awarded the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation Space Program and the New York Foundation for the Arts Award.