Joe Camoosa is known for his large-scale oil on canvas paintings that are a riot of color, line, and form. Since receiving his MFA from the University of Georgia in 2015, his drawing practice has rivaled that of his painting. His works on paper have a more spare quality, with negative white space and seemingly controlled elements that sometimes suggest floating still lifes of shapes and visual textures. En masse, these meditations on line, form and color have a rhythmic quality; while a single piece engages with its variations of hash marks, textures, layers and forms, groupings are stronger, each one supporting and pushing the others forward, causing different elements to stand out from the thicket.
Camoosa, who was a 2016-17 Walthall Fellow, works out compositions in his sketchbooks, which he considers ”the R&D of my practice” because they inform both his drawings and paintings. He uses them traditionally, as preparatory studies for larger pieces, but also thinks of some of them as stand-alone works. The sketchbooks “function as a safe haven and repository – a space to focus, gather my thoughts, document my explorations and ongoing research.”
A self-described “neat and selective hoarder,” he keeps articles, essays and images from books, magazines and other materials in his sketchbooks, which for years held mostly his writing – “I’m an inveterate note taker and list maker,” he says. “If I write something down, or cut it out and put it in a folder, I have a much better chance of remembering it.” Now the texts and drawings live in separate notebooks, with the texts also serving as an index for the variety of materials he keeps in his flat files: papers, fabrics, colored wire, fragments of older work, etc.
Camoosa’s studio is at Atlanta Contemporary, where the Open Studios event on November 30 offers the chance to visit his and other artists’ workspaces. You can also check out his works on paper in the exhibition “Flourish,” on view at Kai Lin Art through November 10. In January, he will show paintings at Kai Lin, in a two-person show with Jason Kofke.
Examples of finished works by Camoosa that show the ultimate integration of ideas from his sketchbooks.