Archive for April 15th, 2012

My painting class is called “Impressions of Landscape.”   The recurring question is:  what is a landscape?  To make a landscape do you need a tree, a house, a mountain, clouds, a path leading somewhere? What?

You need a horizon line.  That’s not an aesthetic decision.  It’s not a matter of taste or personal preference.  It’s what your brain demands.  The horizon line is how it orients itself and it’s how it knows that the body it’s in charge of is standing up.

Once you accept that bare essential, you are free to play and goof off and be whimsical and testy.   I mentioned the work of John Baldessari in class and how his work subverts assumptions about language and frames of reference.

Sometimes goofing off, being whimsical and testy involves a lot of work.  One of my students, an architect, took up the dual challenge of paring down a landscape to the horizon line and subverting assumptions about frames.  His piece, measuring over one hundred horizontal inches, consists of three canvases of equal size, precisely spaced, and arranged in a descending arc.

The viewer is likely to question whether this is a landscape and feel, vaguely at first, that something is moving and then feel that he is moving.  He will go back and forth between the disorienting, sinking feeling and the assurance of the horizon line.  Creating this effect is a major accomplishment.  The photo at the top of this text does not do justice to the work because of the studio clutter around it.  This highly original triptych by Peter Brinckerhoff deserves to be shown on a white gallery wall all by itself.  It requires space and time for contemplation.  John Baldessari and fans of conceptual art would like this, I think.


All contents copyright (C) 2010 Katherine Hilden. All rights reserved.




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