Peter Fox is a painter and printmaker whose work is different from that of most other artists, for whereas theirs belongs solely to the world of studios and galleries, Peter’s seems to grow from some substratum of myth and rough magic quite outside the currents of his time.
In his woodcuts the images seem to have lain in the earth for generations. In them one can smell the rank fur of these wild creatures and watch, if only for a moment, the slithering of a lizard. All of nature is here in its power and primaeval strangeness: the sun and the moon, the stars, snakes and ammonites, the bare branches of trees harsh against a white sky; a horned stag too, upon whose back a black crow has landed and a chalice and a crown.
Haunted by magical and animal underworlds, Peter Fox is a master of concentrated form who controls every detail to the maximum effect.
The sense of something mythical about his images is also always potent. Some are specifically mythological; an image of the death of Balder, the sun god, by a mistletoe dart, is an example but, more commonly, the landscapes, if uninhabited, yet seem those through which the great mythic heroes might have lived and hunted.
Everything suggests an ancestral world. This is a trickier task than mere illustration since, like a medium, the artist has to conjure resonances out of thin air. Yet time and again Peter succeeds in so doing: the juxtaposition of a few simple elements – a row of bare branched trees, a running hare, a razor sharp beaked raven and a tower on fire – creates a visual cryptogram no less disturbingly poetic than, for example, the Gundesrup Cauldron. Come to think of it, the work of Peter Fox, though not in the least eclectic, has the kind of wild vigour we associate with the Celts, an animal physicality and compulsion. For me they disturb, re-energise and delight.
Author of A Snake’s Tail full of Ants (Art, Ecology and Consciousness)
Founder and Editor of Resurgence Magazine.