Clayton Porter is a multimedia artist living and working in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Often lauded as an accomplished draftsman, his process consists of exploring a wide range of media often resulting in multiple ongoing series. Porter’s Untitled (bronc rider) series was informed by a dual set of life events. The first of these was his involvement in a long-distance and exhaustive love triangle with a fellow artist. The second was as an assistant in the studio of renowned artist and rancher Bruce Nauman, who unintentionally helped craft the drawings by lending Porter a VHS seminar led by horseman Bryan Neubert.
The confluence of these events precipitated Porter’s decision to exclusively use the bronc rider as a symbol to represent the explosive nature and torment of a love affair. His push-pull experience of lust mixed with conflict makes the bronc rider a perfect proxy, as under normal circumstances the horse and rider might work in chorus, but within the context of the rodeo they battle for supremacy and separation while desire and tenacity keep the rider tethered to the horse.
This push-pull dichotomy is most observable in the tension created in the disparity between the size of the drawn subject and those of the paper dimensions. By limiting the drawn surface to no more than two inches, Porter subverts the typical edge-to-edge treatment employed by most artists, which has come to be expected by viewers. The artist’s deliberate combination of photo-realistic rendering and monochromatic palette echoes this tension by undermining the drawing’s realism. In the Untitled (bronc rider) series Porter borrows the visual strengths of both figurative art and abstract minimalism while connecting in a new way to the persona of the lovesick cowboy and the love ballads that have undeniably shaped American country-western music.