Peter Fox, Uniformal, acrylic on canvas, 2007

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Works by Peter Fox
To May 17 at Knew Gallery

If his work didn’t sometimes look so much like Gene Davis’, no one would mention Peter Fox and the Color School in the same breath. Fox doesn’t always paint in stripes. In fact, most of the new works by the New York painter on display at Georgetown’s Knew Gallery aren’t striped at all. Fox paints seismic shifts, using a unique application system to layer and layer and layer thick, gestural swabs of swirled acrylic on linen canvas (sometimes treated, sometimes not). Late Shift reads from left to right like an EKG or seismological reading. More intriguing is the vertical scheme that appears in his maelstrom of color: in the top strata, a marlin-colored blue-and-white mixture; in the middle layer, a green-and-yellow swarm of grasshoppers; and at the bottom, a red-and-white surge of iridescent seashell pink. With all the gestural abstraction, what’s he doing in a color-field show? First, there’s a Gene Davis look-alike, Uniformal, which is the largest piece in the show. It’s a vertical-stripe painting built up by layering acrylic in troughs and divots that he fills in with even more acrylic; the painting culminates in satisfying stalactites that collect at the bottom of the canvas. The evidence of Fox’s process can be seen in tiny tears, holes, and air bubbles in the stripes—which is another way Fox deviates from the gestural set. Psychedelic and fractal arrays of color are the result of plodding, methodical application. Fox isn’t color-field per se, but he owes more to that set than the stripes alone.