new-york

Walton Ford

Bess Cutler Gallery

Walton Ford allegorizes the legacy of slavery and the racism of the American South in the flattened spaces and golden tones of 15th-century painting. If the Sienese masters attempted to represent the sacred and its permutations, Ford is only interested in the profane and its ambivalence, its pettiness, its evil. In a series of portraits entitled, “The Blood Remembers,” (all works 1989), ugliness attains a level of intensity that attests to the potency of this peculiar conceit. The faces of unhappy white people, painted in his characteristic neonaive style, are pinched with nastiness and thinly veiled violence. Tiny toadlike, demonic creatures emerge from their thin-lipped mouths. The perfectly coiffed women and suited men are all alarmingly pale: if the blood remembers, the blood is getting thin.

Ford explores the encounter of blacks and whites in the rural South with the same razor-sharp

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