WAG 2012.3


'Metatopia' is one in a series of works by the artist inspired by ‘the language of flowers’, or floriography. This popular practice was developed by the Victorians. It gave symbolic meaning to individual flowers. This allowed coded messages of love and desire to be communicated through arrangements of flowers, both in real life and in paintings. The need for this secret language reminds us of the Victorian era’s repressive social conventions. Fox is interested in the way that same-sex desire was policed and expressed during this period. 'Metatopia’s' colours and landscape are inspired by Victorian paintings. The male figure in the foreground of 'Metatopia' is borrowed from contemporary pornography, but his pose and expression relate to the type of homoerotic imagery that can be seen in many Victorian paintings, including several in the Walker Art Gallery's collection. Fox highlights how artists then and now have used their art as way of expressing appreciation and desire for the male body. He gave this painting to the Walker to ‘highlight the LGBT and queer histories’ within the collection. Fox’s mirror-like, polished paintings are built up gradually over periods of up to 18 months by layering acrylic colour with the erotic and floral drawings. Metatopia was a prize-winner in the 2010 John Moores Painting Prize at the Walker.