Landscapes in painting have only been insubordinate from objects since the sixteenth century and to some, it may seem that current values in art and post-modernism have rendered the genre irrelevant. But exploring today’s prominent artists leads me to believe otherwise; while most avante garde artists might only have to concern themselves with the ‘new’, modern landscape, painters have to be especially aware of the history of the genre while developing their own style and influences and expressing the constantly changing nature in which we are aware of our environment.
Texan artist Julie Bozzi takes a novel approach to this idea in using her car as a studio. Flat horizontal planes painted from the dashboard are images of ‘in-between places’; areas of land between journeys, settlements and regeneration. Her work includes studies of abandoned car parks, deserts, rural Texas and scenes of murder and violence, always without figures and minimal in style, influenced by the likes of Edward Hopper. Her style may be seen as illustrative but in context to her research on landscapes in takes on new meanings. Her detailed studies and affinity for these scenes of isolation are similar to Kurt Jackson’s detailed studies of parts of Cornwall; both have scientific training.
Jackson has certainly created his own style out of his zoology training and out-door ‘seclusion’ but in his larger works huge expanses of abstract paint spackle and use of poetry create works of heightened spiritual value, and are heavily indebted to the Abstract Expressionists. Another artist counting Rothko and Still amongst others as major influences is Japanese/American Makoto Fujimura. His murals show a distinctive Christian viewpoint on landscape in a predominantly secular art world. His work is a poetic expression of faith in relation to the Earth and both Eastern and Western culture, using gold, silver and natural mineral pigments.
The use of marks that suggest movement or natural form are both in contrast and harmony and take on the characteristics of oriental calligraphy. However, his use of washes and English light reveal Turner as an influence. Although the golden age of landscape painters was supposedly in the 19th century, Cornwall’s artist community has produced many fine contributors, and now artists like Peter Lanyon and Teresa Pemberton inherit its legacy. Lanyon works with shapes and colours (words cut) drawn from the world around him which are familiar in the collages and paintings of Terry Frost and Brian Wynter . Pemberton also draws upon the St Ives School and Scottish Colourists to produce a typically St Ives (word missing, but I don’t know what it should be) with creative drips and splodges which take a creative meandering to her paintings final points.
Printmaker Luke Elwes also creates purely abstract work in response to journeys he has taken to as far afield as Pakistan and the Australian Outback. It is infused with the same sensibilities as the painterly work of Anish Kapoor, who has similar cultural influences, and uses the same deep earthen pigments and crackled surfaces. Darren Waterson takes a different approach, with hovering ethereal entities on translucent wax and layered glazes to create a truly exceptional response to light. Also predominantly interested in the effects of light on a landscape is the Norwegian Ornulf Opdahl, championed by Queen Sonia, who uses the bleak palette of his homeland to create both haunting and startlingly beautiful painting; some completely abstract mists and washes, and others wistfully existential in their figurative response.
What unites these artists is their ability to deconstruct their influences and submit them to work that allows us to consider the world around us in new and exciting ways. In achieving this they have inherited the true spirit of the modern landscape painter. – JR
This is an original Hashmark article by JR, written in early 2006