16 January – 21 February 2009
‘Texas Crude’ was Texan-born Californian-based Rosson Crow's first exhibition with White Cube. The artist produced a series of large-scale paintings which portray grand scenes, inspired by moments in history.
The spaces depicted in Crow’s work are of mythical or mythologized locations, devoid of people but with implications of recent habitation, as if capturing the moment after a party has ended. Her paintings are inspired by diverse references – Baroque and Rococo interior design, cowboy culture, Las Vegas architecture, theatre and music – their dominant scale pulling the viewer into the psychological space of the spectacle. A rich palette and exuberant application of paint distinguish her paintings, which are developed through extensive research and sketched studies, before finally being rendered with assured speed on the canvas.
A sense of time collapsing and history repeating emerged throughout the exhibition. In Poverty Partye at the White House, a grand vaulted ballroom bears witness to a scene of debauched revelry, with the remains of a carnivorous feast strewn across a table. The tableau of frenzied feeding, at odds with the room’s refined formal setting, implies a moment of wild abandonment before the opulent party is inevitably drawn to a close. New York Stock Exchange After Bond Rally, 1919 features a lavishly decorated room, in louche disarray, after a rally to promote Liberty Bonds, the type of war bond sold in the US to support the Allied cause in the First World War. The dynamic perspective of both paintings and their radiant artificial illumination draw the viewer deep inside the illusory space, only to be disrupted by oozing drips and splashes thrown across the surface plane. Such convergence of painterly styles characterise Crow’s work, as does the ongoing exploration of artifice. Stage sets, platforms, drapes and ornamental displays indicate a transitory use of location and the construct behind the façade. Animal skins slung up by temporary ropes provide the setting in Dawson City Furrier Caters to Klondike Fever, while the Soutine-like, flayed carcases of Queens Butcher Shop, 1910, function as semi-improvised demarcations of space as well as making the potent allusion to the charnel house.
The pioneering spirit of turn of the century America is referenced in works such as Wildcattin’ in Paradise, which points to an era when the physical and economic landscape of Crow’s home state of Texas was transformed by the discovery of oil. ‘Wildcatters’ were speculators who drilled in areas not previously known to yield oil, the term originating from the clearance of wildlife in the prospective fields, including feral cats whose pelts would then be hung from the oil derricks. The dark, earthy palette of the painting intensifies the density of the field, overpopulated by steel machinery, contaminating the rural idyll.
Rosson Crow was born in Dallas, Texas in 1982 and lives and works in Los Angeles. She received her BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York in 2004 and her MFA from Yale in 2006. Crow completed a residency at Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris in 2006 and has had solo exhibitions at Honor Fraser, Los Angeles; CANADA, New York, and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris. In 2009, she will have a solo exhibition at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas.
A fully illustrated catalogue, with texts by Jonathan T D Neil and Rosson Crow accompanied the exhibition.