From a Press release for an exhibition at William Campbell Contemporary Art in Fort Worth, Texas from 2015
Beyond Words, an exhibition of new painting and collage works by Cecil Touchon, will exhibit the latest work from Touchon’s ongoing exploration of typographic abstraction, wherein pre-existing letter forms are deconstructed and extemporaneously re-assembled to create what the artist calls a “chance aesthetic.”
Based loosely on the concept of the grid, Touchon’s nonrepresentational collages juxtapose structure with spontaneity. Disparate text-inspired shapes are disassembled and compartmentalized within tight geometric areas, at times reminiscent of traditional printing plates, but remaining completely abstracted. Limited color palettes maintain a quiet cohesion among the various shapes, textures, and lines that move meticulously around the space, where the segments simultaneously align and overlap, protrude and recede. Ultimately, the compositions evoke a dynamic yet controlled environment throughout the picture plane.
Touchon’s collages focus not on the prescribed, utilitarian function of letters, but rather on their fundamental design aspects and visual impact. “I am interested in the concrete fabric of language, not what can be made out of it as a representational medium,” the artist explains. “I look directly at the letters, not at the ideas that float into one’s mind from reading letters… This is why I say I am releasing the letters from their burden of being bearers of meaning. Hence, this leaves the viewer free of such burdens as well.”
Touchon’s creative process begins with small collages on paper, some of which grow into larger paintings. (Beyond Words will include both the smaller works on paper and the larger canvas pieces.) He originally selected the medium of collage as an homage to the printed page, which, historically, has served as the primary vehicle for representational communication. He chooses to employ typography in reference to verbiage, but also because of its graphic impact. At its core, Touchon’s principal interest lies in transforming the written word into something purely visual. “Working with typography as a base, I experiment with multiple ways of thinking about this kind of material such as color relationships and ways of reconstructing the material,” he says.
Touchon strives to create a type of visual poetry within his work as he strips typical communication symbols of their familiarity to highlight their lyrical elegance. In this manner, he elevates through reduction, altering the letters from both visual and cerebral angles. Specific, identifiable systems transcend their assigned roles to become wholly aesthetic and universal, communicating in a way that is, consequently, beyond words.