About the Artist
Who is Stephen Fox?
I've had a fascination for light within the nighttime landscape for almost as long as I can remember—when I was seven years old, I'd play an outdoor game with friends, where at dusk we had to dodge the headlight beams of cars coming into the neighborhood, diving behind trees or into ditches when the light was about to find us. I didn't have past events like this on my mind when I began to paint nighttime subjects in the early 1980's, but the attraction was definitely there, a kind of calling. How strange now, that I sometimes find myself collecting images out in a darkened landscape, where the headlights or tail lights of a passing car are the magic ingredient that enlivens a scene for a few moments, turning it into something I wish to paint.
When I began to work with these after-hours situations, I had no idea the investigation could go on as it has, providing inspiration for decades. I believe this interest has endured, and deepened, because I have resisted the tendency to become a single-subject painter, even under this umbrella of working with light and atmosphere at night. I began by painting what was all around me, the city streets and alleyways where I lived, and when branching out I found myself attracted to a variety of subjects, including the roadways that took me from one place to another. I work with these themes in the manner of loose series, not in a neatly contained linear progression, but more as a creative spiral, Muse or circumstances bringing me back to see something familiar in a fresh way.
My paintings have been featured in books on Photorealism, and there are obvious reasons for this—the camera and tripod are essential tools for gathering visual data in the night, the camera sometimes picking out forms that my eyes could never adjust to see. But I do question where my goals overlap and diverge from the Photorealist designation—I have great respect for intuition and the power of symbol, and there are some paintings, like those with phone booths glowing in the dark, that never would have been seen in a certain way, and then painted, if they hadn't first appeared to me in a series of dreams. Highways disappearing into the distance, billboards with their messages obscured, lonely phone booths and deserted playgrounds, high vista landscapes and even the sidewalk life we might find ourselves a part of on some misty night... It seems that all of these elements can have both literal and symbolic significance, worlds of form and spirit given voice at the same time.