Otto Ford creates expressive abstract paintings concerned with the relationship between the digital and material world. Using a wide range of digital collage, software and print technology, he creates works of intense colour, texture and depth of field, continuing to challenge our idea of what makes a painting. Ford’s second exhibition in Berlin presents new digital paintings which are inspired by a book the artist was reading at the time of the works’ creation. Encyclopaedic in nature, the Geoponika is a Byzantine Greek farming manual which was composed of instructive, scientific, superstitious and humorous texts in the 10th century AD. In Pleiades Return, Ford conjures up abstract images of colourful sky formations inspired by ancient rituals still practiced today, that use star mapping to predict farming conditions. Also, Dionysus Eats and Euphorbia Rising, titled after the god of vine and a flowering plant respectively, allude to nature and farming through their tones and captions, thereby reiterating the etymological roots of the word culture in the Latin colere, meaning to till, to form, to cultivate.
An interesting new point of departure in Ford’s work is presented in Mintaka Starmap, for it is one of his first paintings which is not format-filling and evokes the contours of Marshall Islands stick charts. Used as a memory and orientation aid by navigators to prepare for sea voyages in the Pacific Ocean, these charts were mobile sculptural forms built from a latticework of leaf ribs and shells. The brushstrokes interspersed with green, yellow and red tones and the in-between areas, which were left or deliberately made white, seem to imitate these structures while leaving ample room for further interpretations. Through Geoponika as a lens that is both historical and contemporary, Ford enables us to reassess our interactions with the environment and our approach to the living, technical and artistic world.
by Marie Meyerding
Combining an education in Art History with studies in the field of technology, Otto Ford creates digital paintings in which ‘paint’ is data. Preoccupied with the future of the painting medium and process, he creates his digital canvases with a broad range of data sources that catch his attention: from digital reproductions of art history subjects to NASA pictures of the space, he bundles the data into a brushstroke with the help of a computer, coming to a visual result that resembles — at first glance — a traditional painting. When the work is completed, it is printed with acrylic pigment-based ink on Hahnemühle paper, mounted on aluminum, and framed; the entire process can takes weeks.
Otto Ford was born in 1978. He earned his BA from Goldsmiths and completed his M.A. at the Royal College of Arts in London in 2017. Otto Ford received the HIX Award in 2017. He lives and works in Brighton.