Artists Rebecca Crowell and Thaddeus Radell both exploit the media of oil and cold wax. Their very different approaches to painting share the spotlight in the first exhibition of 2019 at Thomas Deans Fine Art. Rebecca Crowell’s abstract paintings have been called “rich, lustrous, and above all, meditative.” Thaddeus Radell’s narrative paintings have been described as poetic, mysterious, and epic “in their rich concentration of pigment suspended in beeswax, sculpted with palette knives and small brushes.”
Crowell creates her paintings with oil paint mixed with cold wax medium and powdered pigments, charcoal, sand, and graphite applied to wooden panels with a variety of tools and techniques. Her complex, organic surfaces evolve over time through intuitive decisions about color, texture, and format. Each painting comprises many layers, into which she scrapes, dissolves, and excavates for what lies beneath. In her latest work, geometric compositions predominate in a balance of darks and lights. Huffington Post has written of Crowell’s work, “She invites us to stand with her and take in the world and its transcendent beauties slowly. As an artist she does the hard work of finding the essences that surround us so that we can stand in front of them, transfixed.” Rebecca Crowell recently co-authored Cold Wax Medium: Techniques, Concepts & Conversations, which was the recipient of two 2018 international book awards.
Thaddeus Radell, too, incorporates a variety of techniques in the creation of his paintings, narratives that he describes as “profoundly abstracted figure compositions in an undefined setting.” Radell begins his paintings intuitively with random marks that establish larger masses—heads, torsos, and limbs. Gesture and rhythmic distance between figures evolve to animate his “scenes.” Ravishing colors glow with the matte luster of his wax medium. The finished paintings often bear titles from classical literature, but these can be seen by the viewer as either descriptive or metaphorical.
“Applying and scraping off paint, he positively hacks out the images in his paintings with palette knives. Bits of burlap curl out here and there, but below the raw ‘tectonic’ forces lie subtle observations,” writes John Goodrich. “Radell shares the abstract-expressionists’ faith in the power of the gesture; in fact, Radell’s paintings are gestures, built-up of repeated layering of rapid, black outlines and ragged, humming planes of color. These impart a richly atmospheric impression of pulsing depths and thick space.”