Juan Ford - Blank
Galerie du Monde is proud to present a solo exhibition of renowned Australian artist, Juan Ford, who solidified his reputation with his hyperrealist paintings that explore the elements of nature, science, metaphysics and trompe-l’œil. Entitled Blank, this is Ford’s first solo exhibition in Greater China. As the gallery’s GDM Project in 2019, this program is designed to support emerging artists to exhibit their works beyond their locale. At the crux of this exhibition is the premiere of a series of new paintings created specifically for this occasion, which collectively survey Ford’s preoccupation with the effect of global population growth on nature and habitats as well as an investigation into the infinite possibilities of contemporary realism.
After many years of finessing realist still-life and portrait genre paintings, much of Ford’s works ponder a reconciliation between the natural and the constructed through drawing references from elements in the Australian art canon and landscape. A consistent impetus in his work centers around observation and inquiry into humanity’s relationship with its surrounding natural environment. By virtue of his acute dexterity, Ford relies on hyperrealist paintings to transpose the viewers into the scenarios/environments depicted, which are semblances of a post-apocalyptic and dystopic realm. Natural motifs pervade Ford’s works, profoundly reinforcing the mystic sentiment that he strives to evoke. Subversive in his artistic ethos and intellectual in his rigor, Ford’s paintings on show activate a hallucinatory function, thereby unleashing the uniquely persuasive visual cues to drive his viewers into a disoriented world.
As an extension of his unconventional portrait and landscape paintings, works for this exhibition predominantly employ white as a means to address the imminent issues of humanity’s existentialism, as a result of the increasing hegemonic powers of technology. Whiteness conveys an extensive array of connotations, according to the artist, including: "purity, power, mourning, cleanliness, sacrifice, virtue, immortality, death, heat, cold, refined taste, power, control, chastity, tyranny, and many more”. The motifs and the language from Ford’s new body of works further serve as reflection, evoking not only examination into the potentiality of human encroachment on nature, but also a more conscious initiative of awakening one’s perception and awareness.
king center stage of this exhibition is “Recollector”, where a larger-than-life warrior-like female figure is dressed in post-apocalyptic fashion. Positioned front and center of the painting, Ford alienates this figure in a clean, crisp atmospheric environment void of any site or time-specific references. Undisturbed by the presence of other animating forces, the painting’s sole subject seemingly consolidates her strength and authority. Yet, the excessive wrapping of industrial materials around the figure conceals her true form and identity, thereby suggesting an underlying anxiety between the external reality and the internal domain. The protrusion of a serpent and branches, the crawling of an insect on the female figure reinforce the notion that nature can, to a certain extent, be hazardous once humanity interrupts its ecosystem. The stripes of colors revealed underneath the domineering white layers symbolize the remnants of humanity, ultimately a reminder of our imminent fate as well as the prevailing power of nature. “Recollector” bequeaths its towering figure with a juxtaposition of fatal species from nature with destructive manmade materials, consequently situating us within a dystopian world that examines the tensions between nature and humans.