2 November 2023
Curtis Anthony Bozif reflects on
transformation through light and water
by Kate Mothes
The Great Lakes—Erie, Huron, Superior, Michigan, and Ontario—comprise the largest group of freshwater lakes on the planet in total area. Defining the boundaries of numerous states and a large swathe of national borderland between the U.S. and Canada, they connect the East to the Midwest via rivers and a series of other smaller lakes to the Atlantic Ocean. They carry histories—cultural and ecological—that highlight a vast range of human connections to the region that span millennia. And from the shores of Lake Michigan, Chicago-based artist Curtis Anthony Bozif hones in on the nuances of these waters.
Bozif’s paintings study the landscape as if through a macro lens, focusing on details like surface textures, dune grasses, foam, and the ever-evolving relationship between liquid and light. In his most recent series, which hones in on Niagara Falls—flushing water from Lake Erie into Lake Ontario via the Niagara River—the landscape transforms into what he describes as “an opalescent memorial to a world continually undone by geologic forces,” including the accumulation of CO2 in the atmosphere due to our burning of fossil fuels.
Niagara emphasizes minimal, prismatic, glittering interactions between the elements, distilling the physics of light and water into “diaphanous curtains” of subtle gradients. Bozif continues, “In these processes of decrease and increase, of dissipation and concentration, and transformations by repeated subtraction and addition, I see an analogue to the act of painting itself.”
Header image: Detail of Niagara, Number 5, 2022. Oil, pigment, light, gravity, deep time, and wonder on canvas, 70 x 50 inches
All images © Curtis Anthony Bozif