Carl Fudge, The Black Country 5, 2011, 6.5 x 4.5 inches / 16.5 x 11.4 cm, woodcut print, edition of 3
The works presented by Carl Fudge follow the success of his exhibition The Black Country, presented by Galerie Richard in New York in 2011. Fudge is recognized as one of the first painters to incorporate digital processes into his technique. Fudge's work refers to an area in the West Midlands of England. This region became intensely compromised during the industrial revolution, as coalmines, iron foundries and steel mills had left their black mark on the landscape. Fudge found inspiration in a series of woodcuts picturing this region by artist Edward Wadsworth, a member of the avant-garde Vorticism movement. Wadsworth's woodcuts of slagheaps and furnaces provide a point of departure for Fudge in this new group of paintings and woodcut prints. Fudge's ability to retain the influence of Wadsworth's traditional woodcuts, even while deconstructing them through a digital process, is truly fascinating. Because this series uses mostly a red palette, the viewer may decipher images of a crumbling city plagued by turmoil. In this way, this exhibition has a pulse that strikes a chord with the economic crisis we find ourselves in today.
Fudge's digital deconstruction of these images matches the exposed and harsh nature of Wadsworth's landscapes and townscapes. Using the computer as an abstracting tool, Fudge converts his found images into complex new ones updating the relationship between the abstract and the figurative. This is an exploration of the terrain between materiality and virtuality, pattern and mutation, and order and chaos. A well-known printmaking master in the New York artist community, Fudge, initially begins his work with printmaking, then continues onto painting.
While Fudge's prints refer to the artwork of twentieth century European artists, many compare his new paintings to primitive tribal art from all five continents. The deconstructive and digitized process of Fudge's works brings us to a place distant from its origin. Despite this sense of displacement, the viewers can feel an unexpected sense of rawness and vigor, similar to the energy felt when viewing tribal art. Fudge states that he investigates both the practical and aestheticized format of camouflage within abstraction. He writes, "Both the duplicity, history and even implicit psychology of 'cover' are generative subjects for my painting."
Imagery in his work decays in a landscape of mechanical modules, subject to its own metamorphoses. It extends or enhances the aesthetics of the original work with respect and consideration. Conceptually and formally, its practice is to deconstruct and reconstruct layers of iconography, leaving traces of their presence. Fudge captures the precise beauty of digital aesthetics while continuing to celebrate the sensuality and the possibilities of painting. For the first time in Paris, he exhibits his limited edition woodcuts in tandem with his paintings. Carl Fudge's work is part of the collections of The Boston Museum of Fine Arts, The Brooklyn Museum of Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art and The Philadelphia Museum of Art, among others.