Monday, May 1, 2017

The "Zootopian Art" of Walton Ford

King Kong: Skull Island, Disney’s The Jungle book and Zootopia are all recent movie releases that I’m certain Walton Ford loves. Ford the accomplished contemporary artist; has a MFA in filmmaking and creates works as a fine artist that feature and reflect the creatures of nature and the natural world as his primary subjects. There is no possibility that he could not have loved these fore-mentioned films each possessing an uncanny resemblance and affinity of a definitive purpose and respect of commonality. Ford’s art could have been the basis of each films pre-production design and story-boards. Ford’s extraordinary depth and rang is unpatralled in his times for their achievement in the advancement of a form that has been largely ignored for decades. His lush, detailed, richly colored, exuberant pieces adorn many museums around the country and homes of the uber-rich.  

At first look Ford is a naturalist artist in the grand tradition of the likes of John J Audubon. He has painstakingly studied; primarily at the Rhode Island School of Design, New York’s Museum of Natural History and most importantly from “Mother Nature” herself. He parts from the traditionalist in his treatments of his subjects and places them often in very unnatural situations. He adorns his pieces with unusual texts; sometimes written in Latin that many times over are comedic, ironic and timely. 

The scale of Walton Ford’s art is also worthy of note. I have been fortunate enough to have seen his water-color representation of an Aurochs Bull on several occasions at Washington, DC’s American Art Museum. The dimensions of the work are 95” x 132.” It is divided into three sections and having first seen the work scaled down in the pages of “Art in America” magazine it remains a shockingly interesting as well as astonishingly beautiful experience to see this much larger than life master piece!

Ford remains ever and increasingly engaged in his work. He has recently done portraits of Kong, a commissioned Rolling Stones’ album cover and now depicts human beings in his paintings (usually as background embellishments.) Walton Ford thrives in his own “Zootopian World” as we benefit from his skill, devotion and Herculean extravagance of forms.