Ever since I saw his ‘Bestiarium’ at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, 2010, I’ve waited for Walton Ford to come to LA with a solo exhibition.
Walton Ford is here, and he’s serving up a timeless and local beauty that’s perfect for a nostalgic but well-read visitor.
Walton Ford stylistically imitates John James Audubon’s naturalist illustrations.
Ford creates an authentic ersatz of familiar and fantastical (as we see in Calafia) fauna. Ford’s exhibition Calafia shows at the Gagosian in Beverly Hills, through December 16, 2017. While you may be deterred that the Gagosian is in Beverly Hills, rest assured that Ford’s exhibition isn’t pretentious, although parking is a problem.
I imagine Ford to be the impressionist Flâneur of National Geographic subjects.
While several movements in art (such as the Ashcan School) capture daily life of cities and street corners, Ford’s subjects are more animalistic in nature. Quite literally, Ford paints animals. However, these watercolor creatures aren’t observable in nature, but in literature, where Ford often pulls his subjects from. In Calafia, Ford has married literature and art, and he’s painted mythical animals from Western epics and folklore about California, particularly from the colonization period. One such epic is a novel by 16th-century Castilian author Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, Las Sergas de Esplandían (The Adventures of Esplandian). In Las Sergas de Esplandían, Amazons live on a fictitious island that’s inhabited by griffins. The Queen of the Amazons was called Calafia. The Spanish sailed up the Western coast of today’s United States, and named our state after this fictitious island. This exhibition’s title, Calafia, echoes this transcendence of Spanish reverie and reality. With a subtle sense of humor, Ford has taken the two tangible mediums of literature and art, and moved them from an elitist and obscure realm to a space of historical intrigue.
Artist: Walton Ford
When: November 2 – December 16, 2017
Address: 456 North Camden Drive.
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
[Tues - Sat 10-am-6pm]
*Just north of the gallery is a Public Parking structure with one hour of free parking. You will still have to shoulder past the tourists, however.