Off the Grid

Voluptuous Reform, Genovese/Sullivan

450 Harrison Ave. Boston


By Cate McQuaid, April 19, 2007

Craig Stockwell follows his own formula when he paints. He always starts with circles layered as in a three-dimentional grid, like a box full of balls. Then he finds forms within, outlining groups of balls into bulbous, organic-looking forms. Stockwell has a new show at Genovese/Sullivan gallery. With each exhibition he’s had over the years, he has pushed the formula in a new, refreshing direction. 

Here, he in some ways returns to his student days, studying glass at Rhode Island School of Design. He works with translucence, shaping his forms with shadows and brilliant puddles of colored light. 

In “Reform #8,” the ballooning chain of circles snakes over the surface in see-through washes og green, Below, paler, flatter balls link up. You can make out the fine graphite skeleton of a grid glipsing through the bubblegum-pink ground. In one piece, Stockwell offers the blueprint, the rendering, and the realization, layered one over the other. It’s as if the nuts and bolts of his formula have spontaneously erupted into something fleshy and alluring. 

The painter’s drawings, while simpler, are no less inviting. One graphite-on-paper piece, “12/12/06 #3,” feels like a shimmer on the water, although it looks more like a morphing, twisting, dark bowling pin. Stockwell’s process encourages this sense of delicious forms coalescing in a moment, and it suggests that in a moment they’ll be gone.