Wax and Wane / Fire and Water: Paintings by Judy Cotton

October 18 – November 22

In Wax and Wane / Fire and Water, Cotton continues her exploration of the unique medium of encaustic painting while also venturing into the more familiar medium of oil paint. The “Fire” of the title refers to the enigmatic swirling fire images in her series of canvases executed while on an artist residency in Bundanom in her native Australia. No stranger to bush fires, this particular outbreak stoked her creativity. The horizontal canvases glow with hot colors which rage towards the top and run in heavy lines off the bottom.

In 2000 Cotton became an American citizen and the “Water” of the title refers to the series of work which incorporates an abstract substrate of the American flag as well as images of reflected water. The paintings are about being in America now, the simultaneity of experiencing a landscape that is compellingly lovely but layered with deeply disturbing issues. In the past year, Cotton has become particularly entranced with the painter Martin Johnson Heade. Heade painted during the late 1800’s, a time when America was rent by the schism of Civil War. Many are experiencing the same dichotomy in today’s political climate. Cotton has been rethinking 19th century painting and has found commonality with Heade’s luminist painting so layered with disquiet. Cotton refers to this current style as “Neo-luminism,” and perhaps by doing so, creates a new art historical definition.Ultimately, Cotton’s dialogue is about the duality of double nationality – coming from one country and now living in another.

Judy Cotton attended Sydney University, East Sydney Technical College, Victoria University in New Zealand and the Institute of Fine Arts in New York City. She has had numerous solo and group exhibitions in the U. S. and abroad. Cotton’s work is in the collections of such prestigious institutions as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt Museum, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and the National Gallery of Australia.

Silver Moon, acrylic on panel, 20″ x 30″, 2002

Top: Smokescreen, oil on canvas on panel, 21” x 80″, 2003, $7,500
Bottom: Bundanon Fire – Shoalhaven, oil on canvas on panel, 22” x 80″, 2003


China Moon, acrylic on canvas, 36” x 36″, 2003


Pyre, acrylic on panel, 24″ x 40″, 2002


Top: Burn, oil on canvas on panel, 13 5/8” x 56 5/8″, 2003
Bottom: Blaze, oil on canvas on panel, 12” x 55 7/8″, 2003

Dragon, encaustic on panel, 20″ x 30″, 2003