Monday, January 04, 2016


Post Dogmatist Painting #788
Acrylic and collage on wood
40 1/2 x 40 in. repost of my article.

This past weekend I finally met Cecil Touchon at William Campbell Contemporary Art in Fort Worth. I was hoping he would be at his opening titled Beyond Words. About 10 years ago I stumbled across a book titled Massurrealism: A Dossier in a Dallas used bookstore. That is when I first became acquainted with Touchon’s work. Ever since then, I have run across several of his shows without the pleasure of meeting him. I wanted to hear about his process and some of the ideas behind his work, and he was happy to talk.

When someone dreams, it generally becomes hard if not impossible to read words. Many times, words are either static images like an iconic EXIT sign or a jumbled mess that you mind cannot decipher. If you look at Touchon’s paintings as if you were in a state of dreaming, then the cut of words and numbers make sense, because this is a similar expression of the dream experience. However, Touchon is not just playing with the realm of the unconscious, but also in the realm of philosophical investigation. When I wrote about Touchon in the past, I mentioned that I saw qualities of deconstructing text that are even more extreme than Jacques Derrida. I also see Touchon taking William S. Burroughs’ cut-up technique of writing much further by leaving text unreadable. All you are left with are the forms, shapes, curves, and negative spaces of the chopped of letters or numbers. Meaning has been left behind and reformed into pure image. Let’s not forget that these are found words that are broken into parts. Touchon is rooted in Dada anti-aesthetics which has now become the established aesthetic. Recycled words have become new forms as Hannah Hoch had repurposed ad images in magazines.

When it comes to his processes, Touchon starts by cutting out words and arranges them into a composition. He then takes his ideas to board by cutting paper and layering this ripped material on the surface. He plots out his work, paints the shapes, sands the surface, and finally draws on the painting to add some depth and shape to his subject. Some of the process sound like a family affair where his wife and daughter also help to produce part of his paintings. I enjoyed hearing he included his family in the production process. It made these works all the more engaging.

In previous shows, I have only seen his paintings, yet I had seen some of his process pieces in photographs. William Campbell Contemporary Art gallery gave me a treat by including his cut-out collages in the show. I think this gave some context to his paintings and I can also hear the collages speaking to the paintings. These collages were complete works in their own right. If you are going to Fort Worth before October 10th, see this show.

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