Funny, sexy, smart

Somewhere between an Italian TV commercial and a Jetsons cartoon is the icy vision of Elizabeth Fox


By Doug MacCash

November 12, 2004

Glamazon: Paintings by Elizabeth Fox

Barrister's Gallery, New Orleans


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It's not just the leggy half-nude women and muscular men in skintight T-shirts that make the paintings in Elizabeth Fox's "Glamazon" exhibit sexy. It's the suggestive position of the pink doorknob, the Freudian angle of the po-boy sandwich, and the placement of the cannolis in the bakery window (in relation to the position of the doughnuts). Everything about Fox's paintings is sexy -- ridiculously sexy.


Florida-born Fox's world is like a cross between Italian television commercials and 1960s Jetsons cartoons. In one, flying saucers deliver chic partiers to a zero-gravity discotheque. In another, a scantily clad woman drives a revealingly transparent, futuristic sports car (her cosmetics can be easily seen, scattered in the back seat) through a Romanesque street scene. And in a third, a couple enjoys cocktails cozily inside of a speeding rocket ship, as nonchalantly as if they were in a street-side cafe.


Elizabeth photoIf Fox's microscopically detailed, meticulous, cartoonish style reminds you of Louisiana master Douglas Bourgeois, it's no accident. Fox, 35, has been a devoted fan of Bourgeois since she discovered his paintings more than a decade ago. "When I first saw one of his paintings I just flipped," she said. "I thought I'd found a new messiah. I just loved his work from the get-go. Then, later we struck up a friendship."


But Fox is hardly a Bourgeois clone. Her work has an icy cold, bleached-out, lonely quality we've never seen in her hero's lush, atmospheric paintings. The featureless gray parking lot in one piece stretches from horizon to horizon like the Gobi desert. In another, the fashion show runway is as white and blank as a snowdrift. The shoe store, in still another, is as stark as solitary confinement. Fox is like Miles Davis; the parts she doesn't fill in are every bit as important as the parts she does.


'Glamazon' is Fox's first solo show and it's awfully good. Her brilliantly funny, beautifully composed "Trouble at Gambino's" painting belongs in a museum.


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