PRESS RELEASE from Sears Peyton Gallery, New York 2005
The Fusion Series
In Mexico, when a billboard company has no paying advertisers, they send workers to shuffle the panels of the last ad, rather than paint over it. An ordinary billboard is consequently transformed into an abstract scramble of fragmented letters and images.
Six years ago, Texas-born artist Cecil Touchon moved his family from Colorado to Cuernevaca, Mexico. In a minivan filled to the brim, they drove for hours through the seemingly infinite desert. At two a.m., they were thrust into a world of garish bright lights and gigantic billboards—they had reached Mexico City. Touchon noticed the peculiar, scrambled billboards. He was captivated by their unidentifiable ciphers and moved by the letters which had lost their words.
In his Fusion Series, Touchon chops, scatters, and shuffles letters. Fragmented text, hand-painted shapes and carefully shaded graphite areas fuse together, creating bold compositions of refined balance. Touchon’s dissection of letters stems from his desire to release words from the bounds of meaning. Instead of extracting messages from them, we appreciate the shapes for their pure form.
Touchon finds inspiration in the worn primary colors and blocky lettering of wrestling posters that paper the streets of Mexico. By the time Touchon rips the papers from the village walls, they are often layered inches thick. He takes these chunks of paper to his studio and soaks them in water to separate them and then dries them in the sun. In “FS1773CT01”, a poster reading “Tarzan contra El Busto” was transformed into a dynamic study of loops and arches.
In “FS2052CT04”, only the background is composed of found paper. The red areas were hand-painted and then shaded with white pencil to create volume. There is a palpable sense of shallow orderly space created in this rhythmic play of volumetric versus flat rectangles. This piece clearly exhibits the Modernist and Constructivist ideals from which Touchon draws his vocabulary. Touchon takes pride in formal integrity. His works occupy the territory between the visual hallmarks of modernism and Touchon’s own sense of purity.
Collage was the major art historical development of the twentieth century. In the twenty-first century, Cecil Touchon builds upon that tradition by combining old and new, found and painted, printed and drawn, into compositions of sublime beauty and integrity. Like a jazz musician whose knowledge of musical theory enables spontaneous improvisation, Touchon’s awareness of early collage enables him to rip apart art historical conventions and recombine their elements into something new and fresh. He sees collage as the form of expression that most directly reflects his personal experience:
“This fleeting quality of papers and messages and the images they contain seems a fitting material for the contemplation of our temporal condition- of our brief sojourn in this world.” --Cecil Touchon