This exhibition will provide a broad survey of John Wilcox’s work. Including over 20 canvases, dozens of works on paper, as well as notebooks, tools, and various ephemera from the artist’s studio and life. Wilcox lived and worked in New York City during the late 1980’s at the height of the AIDS crisis. He himself was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1989. Like many of his contemporaries, much of his work addressed these issues. Prior to his move to New York, Wilcox spent time in California; it was at this point in his life where he began to take himself seriously as an artist and developed some iconic imagery.
Wilcox’s notebooks from this time mention the artists Donald Judd, Sol Lewitt, and John Baldessari. Later in New York, he would befriend Kiki Smith and admire the work of Ad Reinhardt and fellow Texan Forrest Bess. Wilcox received a BFA from Colorado College in 1977. A year later he found himself on staff at the Art Museum of Fort Worth, meeting artists such as Frank Stella, Robert Rauschenberg, and Dan Flavin.
This exhibition follows not only a legacy of the artist’s work, but six exhibitions masterfully presented in the artist’s former studio near Fair Park in Dallas, Texas; commonly referred to as the Wilcox Space. Beginning in 2014, artists, curators, conservators, educators, and friends mounted
themed exhibitions focusing on Wilcox’s technique and materials. Under the umbrella of the Edith O’Donnell Institute of Art History at the University of Texas at Dallas, six forthcoming publications will document each of these six exhibitions.
By 1992, Wilcox was having solo exhibitions in New York at Fawbush Gallery while showing regularly in Texas. His works are now in the permanent collection of the Dallas Museum of Art, the Museum of fine Arts Houston, the Weatherspoon Art Gallery, UT Southwestern Medical Center, University of North Carolina, as well as American Airlines and Texas Instruments.
With my painting, I am attempting to create a pictorial space which somehow captures an infinitely dense complexity which might serve as a metaphor for life. Repetitive and meditative brush strokes or layering of paint expresses a relinquishing of time, hopefully effecting an active serenity. Images relating to certain religious motifs as well as images of life and death and consequent emotions bear witness to an aspiration of eternal themes. The simplified, somewhat naïve forms give rise to a primitive sensibility while the vertical/horizontal and diagonal grid patterns speak of an essential universality as well as obscuring or protective screens. The attempt towards perfection and the handmade imperfections of the painting try to impart a sense of the soul’s patient endurance.
- John Wilcox, June 16, 2001