How Soon Is Now, a bold and moving exhibition, features seven recent oil on birch paintings by artist James Walton Fox depicting, in his words, “ the ecstatic landscape – the place where the light of the imagination ripples across forests of knowledge”. “The Red Carpet”, an eight foot round sculptural installation by Tibetan artist Sonam Dolma Brauen, is centered on the floor of the gallery. Fox describes his work as a “continual attempt to erase the boundary between human nature and the environment”. His work is inspired by numerous poets including Emerson, Rumi and Neruda. The use of script, including the languages of Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit, Farsi in many of his works blur the line between poetry and painting. He explains that poetry is the “gesture of the breath” found in all cultures and can be used to “indicate history in quite precise ways” It is man creating, man attempting to express himself, through gesture, mark and color. The abstract backgrounds of the paintings are saturated with rich, ebullient hues including green, blue, ochre and orange which are offset gently by the words, or non-words, drifting across the surface as if blown by a breeze. The birch panels as the ‘canvas’ give the body of work its roots in the earth.
In contrast, the powerful and very concrete sculpture of Sonam Dolma fills the floor of the gallery in no uncertain terms. There is nothing ephemeral about it, yet its impact is also one of timelessness and universality. It is a circle measuring eight feet in diameter consisting largely of Tibetan “tsa tsas”, traditional clay moldings of miniature Buddhist images in the symbolic shape of a stupa or a mound-like structure containing Buddhist relics. The making of tsa tsas is a Tibetan Buddhist practice to accumulate merit. They can be found everywhere in Tibet. In “The Red Carpet”, Dolma has arranged them on a wooden disc arranged in a circular manner, lined up in narrow rows next to each other. The perfect geometrical form is intersected by a long red stripe representing a red carpet that interrupts the constellation. With this intrusion, the small rows of tsa tsas look like an anonymous mass watching a pageant or parade. Interrupting the pattern and visual repetition of the tsa tsas it becomes a jarring reality of everyday life. The viewer is left to ponder the meaning and importance of the visual interruption.
James Walton Fox
Born in Summit, New Jersey, Fox attended Hobart College. A large portion of his training occurred in Manhattan and Brooklyn in the 1990s, where he joined the Arburo collective and began exhibiting in group shows. He developed an interest in Vajrayana Buddhisim at that time, and enrolled in the MFA program at Naropa University in Boulder, CO. This program aims at the integration of meditation, drawing, painting, poetry and social engagement. Fox studied thanka painting and calligraphy, and began visiting India, Europe and South America, all of which informed his work and imbued it with a strong sense of spirituality. Fox began traveling to and exhibiting in Spain and the Netherlands, also traveling frequently to Venezuela and Italy and developing powerful connections to all those places. Fox currently lives and works in the Catskill Mountains with his wife, but maintains a studio in lower Manhattan.
Fox exhibited his work this year in Yokohama, Japan, and had a solo exhibit in 2010 at the Poets House in Manhattan. This is his first exhibit at Tria Gallery.
Sonam Dolma Brauen
Born in 1953, Brauen spent the first six years of her life high in the Tibetan Alps in the region of Kongpo. After the Chinese invasion, her family decided to leave Tibet, where she had lost her father and sister. Her family fled to India. When they arrived, they earned money doing road construction. Later they moved to Shimla and Dehradun, where Brauen attended an English Middle School. At the age of 19 she emigrated to Switzerland and married the Swiss anthropologist and curator Martin Brauen. They settled in Bern, where they raised two children. Brauen and her husband moved to in New York in 2008.
Brauen is the only Tibetan-born female artist living and working outside of Asia who has exhibited her work publicly. Trained as a painter in Bern for nearly two decades, after her recent move to New York Brauen began to focus more of her energy on sculpture. Most recently she has made sculptural installations that express ongoing themes that interest her: machoism and its relation to power, money and war, and the political situation in her home country of Tibet. “The power of the work comes from placing familiar Buddhist objects in a new context, thereby creating new meanings, like ready-mades.” (Anna Bremm, Tradition: Transformed, 2010).
Brauen’s work has been exhibited throughout Switzerland and the Netherlands, in Los Angeles and in New York. “How Soon Is Now” marks the first exhibition of her work at Tria.