Rebecca Ward: cow tipping at Ronchini Gallery
Rebecca Ward’s first major solo show takes as its title the myth of farm workers pushing cows over for entertainment – a clearly unfeasible practice, but one that is used to mock those who live in the countryside, because they lack other types of entertainment. Ward, an American artist who lives in New York, seems far removed from rural life, but actually grew up in the countryside of Texas. She has spoken in interviews of her interest in “pockets of cultural phenomena,” and the title cow tipping is a playful nod towards her fascination with urban (or rural) legend.
Playfulness is a feature of the exhibition, as Ward works with a variety of unusual media, from latex to bleach and spray paint. The neon palettes and blurred, cloud-like shapes she uses in some of the paintings are juxtaposed with slightly rough-cut parallel lines in monochromatic colours, as in you don’t have to call me darlin’, a simplistic piece of asymmetrical lines on canvas. Ward is really showing her flexibility as an artist in this exhibition, but all of the works retain a sense of rusticism in keeping with her interest in rural Americana.
Ward’s use of found materials and her experimentation with texture redirects the focus back towards the canvas on which the art is traditionally placed. Her work monster is an example of this, directly invoking the canvas as a medium. Ward unpicks the thread of the canvas to form a natural frame around the piece, stretching the canvas in such a way that it creases in the middle, again re-involving it in the artwork as a valid medium in interplay with the oil base.
Her lyrical titles for the artwork – banana cut, rocky mountain oysters, the heretic, the evangelist and the preacher – hint at her light-hearted, experimental style. Ward’s cow tipping contrasts the more serious elements of the abstraction movement with the softer, more homemade style that comes from creasing, bleaching and dyeing a canvas.
Ward is only touching the surface of what she is capable of in this inaugural exhibition. But the future’s bright: with an upcoming exhibition in Italy with the influential Italian abstract painter Carla Accardi and her participation in a group show later in the year in St Petersburg, you can bet that there is a lot more to come.
Rebecca Ward: cow tipping is at the Ronchini Gallery until 18th May 2013. For further information or to book visit the gallery’s website here.
For further information about Rebecca Ward visit her website here.