My work seeks to depict landscapes that maintain a reverence for the history of painting, but ultimately give contemporary voice to our understanding of place. Landscapes can speak to power, commodity, Romanticism, nostalgia, allegory, fear, and wonderment. While they are rich in complexity, the idea of a landscape is malleable. In other words, mankind defines and impacts nature. Our depictions of place and ideas of beauty reflect that. As the painter Gerhard Richter once wrote, “Every beauty we see in landscape – every enchanting color effect, or tranquil scene, or powerful atmosphere, every gentle linearity or magnificent spatial depth or whatever – is out projection; and we can switch it off at a moment's notice, to reveal only the appalling horror and ugliness.”My most recent series of nineteen paintings created between January and December 2015 explores this malleability by connecting real places and transforming them into imagined ones.
Until recently, I have felt obligated to depict real locations, feeling as though I owed nature truthful observational representationalism. Like the Romantic painters, I felt in awe of the sublime and wanted to ride that wave of beauty. This new series is my attempt to break free from depicting specific places and to see what creating “real-simulated” images might bring to the conversation about art and ecology. Borrowing a collage aesthetic creates abrupt connections, subtle perspective shifts, and challenges the traditional idealization of nature. My work often playfully depicts natural phenomenon. At the same time, there is an underlying brooding darkness and mystery. I feel like I have succeeded if my work balances that duality.
This series is a reaction to the contemporary practice of framing, constructing, and deconstructing the landscape: humankind’s marks on the land. My paintings are constructed places and, in turn, remind the viewer that landscape paintings rely on human definition. Our hopes and fears help define which landscape is desirable and which is not. These ideas of perception and constructing realities are at the heart of this series.