Corey French is an enigma of an artist on the West Coast, considered by those who have seen his work one of, if not the best, painter that they have encountered of his generation. He is considered an enigma because he does nothing to further a career as an artist, content instead to make work and not be in any spotlight. French is a pure painter, meaning, he is not an artist that uses paint to employ any specific thing but rather that paint is how he relates to his creative process, a painters painter if you will. His work is imbued with complex subtleties, the ground nearly feeling empty until you sit into the work, getting lost in the richness of the space, the word atmospheric would not do them justice, they are instead, worlds. Sitting atop these worlds are small networks of intense interludes of thicker paint which almost feel fragile until you see that the world that is in is self-contained and ensured of its place. One can begin to realize in looking at French’s work that it is we who are fragile, fragile in our insistence for more, uncomfortable with stillness, and that in viewing these works they are providing, for our busy minds a place to rest, comfortable in the world it presents, pausing for the sake of pausing, breathing in a world of pure beauty.
Corey French and Ryan Coffey met each initially in 2002 in their senior year at the San Francisco Art Institute in Amy Ellingson’s senior seminar class. Although, in the folly of youth, they were in opposing camps, they met again years later over a game of pool and the shared love of a song, California Stars, sung by Wilco. From that moment on they became great and supportive friends and colleagues. In the winter of 2010 French and Coffey spent a late night together in Coffey’s studio making piece after piece, this is the only remaining large piece from that nights collaboration, French is in the possession of a larger sketchbook that contains a handful more. French, who hadn’t shown in years, as an artist who does not possess the gene for self-promotion, implored upon, many times, Coffey to get them a show together, each showing their own work and not the collaborations. Coffey had been showing at a small space in San Francisco and sent out a text to the curator of that space. Later that evening a show was secured and in the summer of 2011 they had a show at Lake Gallery, French Coffey.