2012 Goxwa showing at Axelle Fine Art New YorkJune 19, 2012
It’s a treat to hear that Goxwa is having a show. In her case, anticipation is inevitably surpassed by reality.
This year, Goxwa seems to have focused on story paintings emphasizing individuals. Each has a back story. Each is beautifully rendered although I will admit that the faces are far less differentiated than their clothing and surroundings.
I was disappointed that there were so few cityscapes, the most compelling work in Goxwa’s last show at Axelle. The few exhibited are wonderfully atmospheric. The most charming piece is simply a city pigeon, even to jaded New Yorkers.
But what makes Goxwa’s work so compelling isn’t her subject matter, it’s her technique with encaustic, the difficult to master wax and oil medium.
Encaustic has been going through another of its periodic resurgences in the last few years. (See some of our other reviews.) As I discuss this medium with artists using it, I find that Goxwa’s technique is simply put, different.
The most common method to using the medium is to pour hot wax, please something on it, possibly an object, possibly more wax then to heat it with a blow torch so that one the top layer fuses with the one below it. The paintings may a 2 inch thick amalgam of colored or translucent wax as in some of JongWang Lee’s paintings or Maria O’Malley’s more delicate pseudo drawings.
As you examine the details of Goxwa’s paintings, you realize that she has taken the opposite approach. The wax is simply the matter into which her color is mixed. Of course, she uses heat to melt the was so that it can be applied. But – and it is a very different but – she heats her surface before applying the colored wax so that the base accepts the new strokes. As a result, you see her brush and knife work in the same way that you would in an oil painting.
This is the most difficult way of working with the encaustic medium and the hallmark of the genius that is Goxwa.
Goxwa’s exhibition at Axelle Fine Art, 472 West Broadway (just doors south of Houston Street), NYC, runs through June 30. It is a treat if you’re a fan of excellent work and a prerequisite if you’re working with encaustic.