Sotheby’s S|2 is pleased to present Adder Among Choughs, an exhibition in Los Angeles of new paintings by British artist Danny Fox. For this exhibition, Fox examines a history of societal advancements and declines, focusing on moments of both triumph and regret through the lens of characters associated with these two extremes. Painted during his time in Los Angeles, this group of six canvases reflects on Fox’s own developments as he begins to further establish himself and his practice in a new Angeleno environment, thousands of miles from his beginnings in Cornwall. Fox dictates the narrative in this exhibition through the legacies of both personal and public figures, ranging from a famed chemist to an evil militant to a heartbroken grandfather. These characters are all united by a shared departure from family, social norm or civilization.
The exhibition’s title, Adder Among Choughs, refers to historic moments of divergence. An adder is a type of Eurasian viper and a chough is a type of common bird—similar to an American crow—from Cornwall. Adders are small, solitary reptiles, some with a venomous bite. Choughs fly in flocks, are monogamous and a philopatric avian species. At different points in time, the characters in Fox’s paintings left their flocks in pursuit of something else. Fox’s new work considers the oscillation between characteristics of the snake and bird and the consequences that come with each. For instance, one painting depicts the Cornish scientist Sir Humphry Davy, known for his advancements in the study of synthesized gases. Davy traveled England demonstrating his experiments and the effects of nitrous oxide or laughing gas on himself and audiences. Like the solitary adder, he left his home in Penzance to promote his scientific discoveries to the world. Another painting is a portrait of Fox’s estranged grandfather, an architect by trade who emigrated from Scotland in pursuit of work, only to return devastated by the discoveries from his time abroad. History—both public and personal—serves as the cultural context for Fox's new paintings developing a discourse that looks at both the past and present.
The depiction of Fox’s characters is influenced by a variety of sources ranging from vintage Scotch Whiskey advertisements to Post-Impressionist painting to British East India Company portraiture. Fox continues to explore the depths of figuration with his new paintings, distilling his characters and iconography through a rigorous painting process. Each composition becomes a history in itself through a painterly practice that buries earlier stages of the canvas’s surface and its consequent imagery beneath layers of acrylic. Through his painting technique and dialectic of charged symbols and icons, Fox develops his characters and their histories to illustrate his criticism and celebrations of the different moments for which they are remembered.
HOURS OF OPERATION: Sotheby’s
2029 Century Park East
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Monday - Friday
10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
and by appointment
S|2 is Sotheby’s Contemporary art gallery, offering year-round exhibition programming and bespoke private sales.
With dedicated gallery space in New York, London and Hong Kong, S|2 presents selling exhibitions exploring the work of celebrated artists, such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Yayoi Kusama, Frank Stella and Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, as well as shows curated by influential art world figures like Vito Schnabel.