Fort Gansevoort is currently displaying "New Wave", an exhibition of abstract wave paintings by Roy Fowler. The exhibit opened on Thursday, September 29, and will be on view through Sunday November 12, 2016 at the gallery in the Meatpacking District.
The exhibit came to be when Adam Shopkorn, co-organizer of Fort Gansevoort, was introduced to Fowler's work through the artist Mary Heilmann, who has a painting by him hanging in her Bridgehampton home. Shopkorn immediately began inviting Fowler to show new paintings because he said "I wanted to show these paintings that mesmerize me."
Fowler came to New York in 1976, after studying at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has lived in the same studio on Walker Street in Chinatown ever since. He grew up fascinated by the ocean and art, the former plays a big part in themes of his work and the latter is literally his life and living.
“When I was a kid, I would get so excited getting surfing magazines in the mail,” Fowler said. “I thought, maybe I could get some of that excitement in a painting as well. That was my starting point for this ongoing body of work.”
For the exhibit at Gansevoort, Fowler has created a new series of small and large format oils and watercolors. Developing a process of transferring his initial watercolor drawings, Fowler allows paint to have a life of its own in the larger canvas format, letting “borrowed images from nature” take on new directions. He finds the color and structure of his paintings by breaking down the components of a wave: where the color of the sky reflects on the surface of the wave, and where the light goes through the water and refracts from the sand bottom. The lightness and colors emerge giving them, “a kind of memory that is embedded in the surface" according to Fowler.
When asked about how working in his Chinatown studio relates to his interest in the ocean, the artist said, “The city is a barrier between myself and the ocean. It provides an insulating effect, and encourages me to spend more time in the studio,” he explained.