Nathan Foxton's IN Color
Nathan Foxton’s title for his city gallery show, “IN Color,” is an apt descriptor for his fresh take on common and not-so-common Indianapolis scenery. When thinking about what to paint, Nathan told me he was “looking for things that catch my eye.” Nathan’s “eye” is easily discernable in this series, not only in subject matter but also in paint quality, palette, and perspective. Nathan sought out subjects that would hold his interest, and hopefully others’: “My job is to look at what’s there and reinvigorate interest and beauty, whether it’s mundane or something else.”
“IN Color” can be seen as a continuation of painterly exploration exhibited this year in his October show “The Hunt,” which depicted vibrant, color-infused, dynamic scenes often found in Baroque art. In the same way, this month Nathan floods urban scenes with color, evoking atmospheres supported by the titles he gives some these works. For example, Nathan’s painting of the Indiana World War Memorial & Museum is entitled “Glory,” an evocation produced by the stately angle at which the monument towers above the viewer as well as the pink dollop of sky emerging from just behind it, contributing an element of drama. Nathan explained, “I’m not intentionally trying to make things wild, but I do hope that the color will help people see the place anew.”
Northwest Corner: City Stage
Some of these pieces are personal, portraying a friend, “Marcia,” or objects found on a walk on the White River, “Osage Oranges.” Others are inventive ways of depicting city views, such as those painted from the perspective of each corner of the downtown square mile. Nathan explained that as he painted the square mile corners, Monet’s haystack series came to mind, particularly Monet’s use of exaggerated color to change the effect of light and mood over a consistent subject matter. “In my highest ideal, making paintings of things are a way to experience afresh the potential joy of being some place. Art can see value in a place.” Nathan’s use of color, he acknowledges, is invented or “exaggerated”, much like Monet’s work. That inventiveness, however, is Nathan’s way of helping the viewer to experience a place with new eyes.
Like “The Hunt,” “IN Color” is deeply rooted in art history. For example, the work of Impressionist Pierre Bonnard inspired Nathan’s approach to “Garfield Conservatory.” Bonnard, a supreme “colorist,” created his pictures out of “small touches of color,” Nathan explained via an excerpt from David Hornung’s book, “Color: A Workshop.” Bonnard fit together flat planes of saturated color to create objects that shimmer and flicker with an inner light. In the same way, Nathan renders plants and the pond in sheets of bright hues. The overall effect is a sense in which each area of color glows independently of the other, though not in such a way as to forsake compositional unity.