‘Swamp Gardener with Flower’ by Adrian Cox
Artist: Adrian Cox
Title: ‘Swamp Gardener with Flower’
Medium: Oil on Paper Mounted on Panel
Dimensions: 12” x 16”
Year of Creation: 2017
About the Artwork:
“This painting is a portrait of Swamp Gardener, a recurring character in my work. The figures that I paint are a mythic race of beings called the Border Creatures. Although the Border Creatures are seemingly monstrous, with grotesque anatomy that contains hybridized pieces of the natural world, I depict them as sensitive beings that live in harmony with nature. Often, the characters in my work are artists, dreamers, poets, scientists, and philosophers. As Swamp Gardener’s name suggests, this figure is a caretaker for its wetland home. While Swamp Gardener shows no recognizably human features aside from its crystal-encrusted hands, I wanted to impart a kind of romantic sentimentality to this portrait. The slight tilt of Swamp Gardener’s head and the delicate positioning of its fingers speak to a wistful sensitivity that softens and humanizes this character. Ultimately, I sought to capture the beauty of this strangely formed figure.” – Adrian Cox
About the Artist:
Adrian Cox (born 1988) is a painter living and working in St. Louis, Missouri. Cox attended the University of Georgia for his undergraduate studies, and received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with honors in 2010. He obtained his Master of Fine Arts degree from Washington University in Saint Louis in 2012. In addition to exhibiting his work nationally, Adrian is the gallery coordinator at the Millitzer Gallery, an alternative art-space in Saint Louis, and currently works as an adjunct lecturer in painting in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in Saint Louis.
My work weaves an ongoing narrative that mythologizes the lives of a grotesque cast of protagonists. These recurring characters exist in a state of perpetual metamorphosis. As they mutate, they hybridize with mineral deposits, flora, and fauna, allowing an intense physical connection to their environment. Their transformations cause them to take on the characteristics of their surroundings; the distinct categories of man and nature are disrupted as the boundaries between these creatures and their wilderness home become fluid and changing. I call these figures Border Creatures, as they are defined by these shifting and indeterminate edges. The environment in which these Border Creatures live implicitly become the Borderlands, an interstitial space that holds conflicting qualities in equilibrium. Rather than serving as a wellspring of identity for my characters, the landscape is shown to be as mutable as its inhabitants. The primal savagery of the wild forest becomes the museum diorama, the anthropological display, and a stage built from historical conventions. The scenes that unfold in the Borderlands dispel romantic notions of a pure and unchanging nature, revealing instead a natural world that depends upon its inhabitants for meaning. Likewise, the mythology of the Border Creatures is a narrative of malleable embodiment, in which the qualities that we perceive as essential to humanity are but temporary modes that shift within changing contexts.