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Archive for May 3rd, 2011

There’s no doubt that this painting represents a landscape.  We can’t quite place it on the map or the globe, but the clues are strong enough. We relate to the line at #1 as a horizon.  #s 2 and 3 echo #1 and suggest a receding horizontal terrain.  These three lines form a reassuring reference in an otherwise rather heaving topography.  There are two reddish hills, partly seen in cross section (5), like geological strata made visible by, let’s say,  a road being cut by dynamite. But the comforting references to horizon and hills end there. At #7 we lose the sense of a horizon.

In the upper regions of this landscape we’re on another planet altogether.  There seems to be a light source behind the cross-sectioned hill (4), but its diffusion is abruptly cut off by diagonal boundaries.  In the upper left, at #6, a conical shape of the same color as the two large hills pushes down out of what we want to believe is the sky.  At right, an orange leaf shape floats.  We are disoriented and the earlier reference to a horizon has become weak and arbitrary.  The painting persists in the viewer’s mind as a landscape, but not literally, more imagined than real.  The looping line (follow the pink dots) flaunts this notion of abstraction.  It is pure surface play.  It says, look, this is a painting, a play of the imagination.

This is a large painting, about  18 x 45 inches.  It engages the viewer with its double take: landscape with hills vs. invention with looping line.

Now comes the catch.  The artist/student, Ivan T., did not paint it in this horizontal orientation.  He painted it vertically.  It evolved as a landscape illusion, geological, but something more like a crevice in rocky terrain.  That’s catch number one.

Catch number two is the fact that he was actually working from a collage, not a landscape at all.  The collage was completely abstract.  In the act of painting, the collaged shapes became more and more layered and the play of forms and edges took over.

What makes this work so rich is not only that it departs from the literalness of a landscape but that it is engaging in both orientations, horizontally and vertically.

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