The big thing I'm always look for in my work is a sort of attraction
and repulsion, where the stuff is beautiful to begin with,
until you notice that some sort of horrible violence
is about to happen or is in the middle of happening. . . .
~ Artist Walton Ford
Meticulous painter and printmaker Walton Ford has the unique ability to fill every one of his huge Audubon-like natural history landscapes with a narrative informed by deep research and distinguished by a twisted attitude. He's ever on the prowl for the bizarre and surreal, the disturbing, the "stuff you can't make up." Take a tour with him of his studio and you quickly get the picture:
Ford's the kind of artist I easily could imagine at my dinner table, regaling guests with his signature mix of darkly edged humor and awing them with his knowledge. His curiosity is his fuel. As he says so well and with passion in this Art21 video, he excavates melodrama, myth, even crudity to locate the "weirdness" and blackness of his subject matter. In distorting the otherwise beautiful, exaggerating with humor and an impulse toward the overwrought, he gets to "make rich dishes" that always satisfy because they keep us looking. His skill and talent are remarkable.
Here's a video of Ford's Bestiarium (2010), which gives an idea of the detail in and enormous scale of the artist's work:
Walton Ford - Bestiarium from ikono tv on Vimeo.
Walton Ford, Walton Ford: Pancha Tantra from Taschen
Walton Ford at Paul Kasmin Gallery and Michael Kohn Gallery (Pay attention to Ford's titles.)
Mark Jacobson, "Nature Boy", New York Magazine
Linda Yablonsky, "Into the Wild", The Aesthete
Walton Ford on FaceBook