No swim this morning as waiting to hear if I can meet up with fellow resident artist Jeanne before she goes back to the US. (This i did – we had a great lunch of chilli and beer at Babalu)
So here are some more thoughts from artists whose work I have come to respect:
At the outsider art gallery I came across a book about Icelandic artist Gudmundur Sigurjonsson.
I browsed through it as loved the works… and found some remarks which resonate….
as I am also a keen collector of stuff found in places, he says:
to pick up something can be a small act of creation, one which resonates with the mind of the person who selects and takes. The selection process can be somewhat arbitrary, but it is the creation of a memory…the picked up item becomes meaningful in a new way….it becomes even greater than the memory of seeing it in situ …replacing it ( in a collection) is not to remove or steal it from the earth,but …(rather) it is a way of putting oneself back into the earth. picking things up is picking up a mixture of what you see and feel, and in that sense it is a way of remembering the experience of nature…
and further about the work of his contemporary george gudni, whose landscape paintings border on the abstract :
I am painting a landscape that is almost nothing – you have nothing to focus on but it remains a landscape. You find it familiar, but i think you have to build the final picture in your head. Viewers must bring their own imagination to the fore,…imagination that relies on the personal memory of what it is like to look…at a mountain through a dense wall of fog.
He tells that when Iceland became a new independent nation, there was a rejection of the older landscape school of painting which treated landscape as something to be a background to view, rather than as something to experience.
It is (also) possible to experience nature as environment, as a holistic sum of what we take in through the 5 senses, and what we feel between and beyond the senses………the elements that construct a landscape…
This is one of my favourites of his:
and it slightly, ever so slightly, reminds me of some of my monoprints…
Another artist whose work interests me in terms of his approach to landscape is Jon Schueler… inspired by Turner’s uniquely visionary works, he writes:
When I saw the Turners through the years… it seemed to me that he went further into nature, and further into the sensation of nature in paint than any other painter. He…did the most to break down style, to destroy it, to find the possibility of paint talking as paint, as an extension of the most immediate perception and sensibility, so that it became most like nature.
In the book To the North, the authors outline Schueler’s quest
to present a world for the viewer to look into, to step into, to be consumed by… this was at the core of his …vision – the balance of imagination and actuality – of inner feeling and outer world…
He was trying to find in Mallaig in Scotland…
…not the Highlands, but a nameless place – unless North is a name. It is truly north. The sun and shadow and infinite sea, all of it, the sky, vast and intimate, eternal creation and destruction, one, a simplicity impossible to understand…
This is a very exalted vision – but the statements from these 3 artists put me in mind of the fact that I am not the only one wondering about the relationship between landscape work and its relationship with the tension between specifics and universalities.
What I do wonder is the direction I will take when working on the material back in my studio. I have collected sketch book data, hurried drawings, bits of stuff, a zillion photos from places both out there in the world and from the car window, and some bits of artwork already started to form some directions and starting points for further development. This is the challenge!
What i do know is that further work will involve large scale – some drawings and painting in the first instance – on a couple of large-scale canvases I already have – and on an untouched roll of Fabriano paper. But how easy will it be to capture that relationship between the wonder of the place itself, and the imagined world articulated so well by these artists above? How will I be able to think of myself again as lone traveller through vast valleys surrounded by silence apart from rushing water and birdsong, excited by the sheer scale of the mountainsides, the snow shapes and the lacy waterfalls?
How easy to think again of the icy whiteness, the powder blues, the grey thick fogs and low cloud with parts of mountains appearing and disappearing with teasing regularity while I am trying to draw them? How possible to be caught up with the excitement of scree slopes that reach to the sky, of jagged castles – tops of harder rocks which don’t weather so quickly, of the geological abstraction of the lava flows outlined as layer upon layer of spreading sheets of horizontal rocks on the slopes, of the mists of the low cloud of a grey day obscuring everything for miles around, or the smell of the sulphurous fumes emitting from powerhouses of steam and black silver grey boiling mud of the fumeroles – the lava fields full of trolls (so they say?) the relaxing waters of Myvatn and hotspots in sunsets and steaming calderas filled with blue, surrounded by hills of red and yellow and ochres… the turbulent waters of dettifoss and svartifoss and skogarfoss, and the fact that the whole surface is basically totally unstable, fluid and new – and changing every single day…
That’s the challenge… not much!