Wilcox’s upcoming solo show in January of 2022 at the Christian Hohmann Gallery in Palm Springs, CA marks the first major shift in his work in 20 years. As yet untitled, Wilcox hesitantly refers to his experience and the resulting work as a “transition” both physically and psychologically. “Its hard for me to call this a transition exactly because I was doing abstraction in the early 90’s. It wasn’t until I moved to California that I decided to paint figuratively predominantly,” says Wilcox.
The shift began the moment he completed his final piece for his last show, “Are You Still With Me?” in December of 2020 for KP Projects in Los Angeles - a title that ended up being even more poignant and prophetic than he had originally intended. The title was a reference to Wilcox’s first solo show in LA, at the Ambrogi-Castanier Gallery in 2006 entitled “Are You Going with Me?” It was at that show Wilcox’s career as a figurative painter took off. He was revered by the likes of the Los Angeles Times, Art and Living and the LA Weekly even stated that “Edward Walton Wilcox is a brilliant and romantic star hurtling through the same galaxy as Odd Nerdrum and Hieronymous Bosch.”
The road that led that moment started yet another two decades before. Upon graduating with High Honors from the University of Florida, Wilcox embarked on a career on the East Coast where he found himself modulating between figurative and, as Ivan Karp from the iconic OK Harris Gallery in NYC quipped, “tough abstraction.” It wasn’t until Wilcox arrived in Hollywood, CA in 2001 that he fully committed to exploring the “darkest recesses of his imagination” and expressing it in a narrative format.
The first piece in this break out series bears the title “1959”. “Being interested in art history I picked that year because it was symbolic of the break out year for abstraction in general terms. I wanted to be completely free from the snares of traditional painting and techniques of representation. I wouldn’t say they had quotation marks around them but at that moment I was parodying a movement from long ago. Pure freedom was the experience I was looking for. Pure freedom and abandon from my previous work,” says Wilcox.
When comparing Wilcox’s latest to the aforementioned, brooding, dark, and drenched in haunting, sepia-toned atmospheres, the latest is startling not only in its abstraction but in its stark contrast and wash of a pallet limited to primary colors. Wilcox states, “My theory is the prism of natural light diffused, the prismatic effect of natural light. My previous work has an atmospheric filter, giving it a story book feel. I don’t want any atmospheric filters. I want it to be true. Art traditionally was an abbreviation for artifice which is artificial, man creating a reference to the natural world and in this new stage I want my paintings to not only reference nature but be actual nature.”
The work of Edward Walton Wilcox exposes his darkest dreaming; hand-carved Gothic altarpieces soar twelve feet high while young maidens in nightgowns and child-size skeletons are captured in landscapes of blazing windmills. Hauntingly beautiful, the work is overt in its reference to Gothic convention, in both content and physical facture. Wilcox's use of primitive materials, such as wood, glass, rabbit skin glues, Italian pitch and gesso lend an old world authenticity to the crockets, tracery and other conventions of gothic carpentry that caricaturize the multi-disciplined art of Edward Walton Wilcox.
He has been aptly named by critics as a true American Gothic and the work was ascribed the moniker "Southern California Noir" by the the LA Times. Art and Living states, "Edward Walton Wilcox's work exhibits an eerie quality that is hard to keep your eyes off of… the suggestions he makes are often unsettling. His images are dark, yes, but it's a darkness that Wilcox suggests should be more closely examined."
Wilcox explains, "I am fascinated with the fine line between beauty and repulsion as I continue to navigate the 'dangerous reaches of the unconscious' whereby a 'romance troubled by nightmares' may be further explored."
Originally from West Palm Beach, Florida, Wilcox earned a BFA in Painting with high honors from the University of Florida, where he also received the Presidential Award for Excellence in the Arts.
Wilcox's work has shown in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Palm Beach, Miami, Palm Desert, Seattle, and Berlin, and has appeared in publications such as The LA Times, Juxtapoz, Coagula Art Journal and FLAUNT Magazine and can be found in private and public collections across the United States and abroad.