It has been argued that success in the world of art demands one essential thing from its would-be-stars: Shamelessness. Sifting through the catalogue of elephant feces on canvases and vagina portraits on offer to anyone with a few hundred thousand dollars, it becomes difficult to keep cynicism from creeping across your line of vision. And then you happen upon the work of Rosson Crow; you see “Live in the Black Pussy,” experience the sight of a drippy slap stick of neon goop inspired by American artist Jason Rhodes, and you find yourself in awe of modern art’s savvy disregard for expectation, a sentiment that has found its way to fashion. For proof, one needs only view the work of Richard Prince or Takashi Murakami for Louis Vuitton.
Born in Texas, Crow splits her time between New York and L.A., where the not-yet-30-year-old artist unleashes her passions onto canvas — canvases that will later fetch upwards of 45K. “My work is really not that expensive in the grand scheme of things, considering how many shows I’ve had and how long I’ve been doing this,” Crow shrugs.
The economics of her work is not what she wants to talk about; it’s the theory behind the critique she’s interested in. “To me, I think it’s much more interesting to bring up the ideas of why [if] it’s a female painter making a painting that’s aggressive then it automatically means it’s masculine.”
If aggression is how it’s labelled, then Crow’s is an aggression of an ethereal age. Infatuated with the Old West and vintage Americana, nostalgia is a lingering demon that feeds the power of her work. The provocative drips of paint held on canvas are haunting in their potent emotion, reimagining history as they bleed unconsciously into their surroundings.
Intense though her work may be, it is devoid of any angst. Self-loathing and brooding is not in Crow’s repertoire. “I love to do art. It makes me happy. That’s why I do it,” she declares. “And I like creating things. I think that people get way too serious and way too angsty about making art, and I just think ‘Why would you be an artist if you’re tortured all the time? Why not do something else?’”
Fashion is something else that is making Crow happy these days. Going on her fifth collection designing prints for designer Zac Posen, the artist talks about the start of their collaboration. “The first season when we worked together, he was like, ‘Okay, I was thinking about florals but I still want you to paint them in the bright colours you use and have it kind of messy and drippy.’ So just kind of going back and forth with ideas.”
Despite working in the industry, and having standout personal style (openings see her dressed like everything from a Vegas showgirl to a well-heeled society princess), Crow remains a tempered fan of the runways. “I love fashion. I just don’t necessarily read fashion magazines,” she confesses. “I think fashion designers are amazing, and the artistic practise of designing clothes is intense and it’s beautiful.”
For the time being, fashion is Crow’s playground: a place to rejuvenate and discover new inspiration to transfer onto canvas. “I think it’s good for artists to kind of branch out and try different things in artistic areas like fashion and music or design,” she muses. “I think it’s fun and it makes you think about art in a different way that can always inspire your painting also.”