THE GORGEOUS GORGES
Like most artists of my generation my artistic beginnings are in abstract expressionism. Next came a period of abstract figurative work. About thirty years ago I focused on the landscape motif. I believe the greatest issue facing humanity is our relationship with nature. Throughout the history of art the landscape motif has symbolized peoples' beliefs and attitudes towards the natural world.
My wish is to create paintings which manifest a gentler, more reciprocal relationship with nature. I disavowed traditional perspective as a formula imposed on nature which maintains a distance between the viewer and nature. Yet spatial illusion is a primary characteristic of landscape painting. In my paintings I playfully manipulate three dimensional space. The viewer is drawn into an interactive relationship with the motif. Realism too is abandoned. It too often represents a crude materialism in which nature is regarded as "stuff" - an object without spirit. I am interested in nature as living process. I want the inner quality or feeling of my motif rather than its materiality.
About a year and a half ago I commenced a series of paintings my wife Ann calls my "Gorgeous Gorges" paintings. Like my farm series of the 80s and early 90s, these paintings began with recollections from my boyhood years in Minnesota. Just as the farms evolved to become Surrey, Langley and Vancouver Island farms, the canyon paintings have taken on their own life and little resemble the limestone cliffs and woodlands of the Root River valley in southeastern Minnesota. On an auto trip this past summer my imagination was seized by the Rocky Mountains. Their wildly stratified geological structures and varied colours have inspired my newest paintings.
The gorges have become a metaphor, a close up vision of wild nature. The lone angler symbolizes a vanishing personal and private experience with wilderness - a symbol of how humans have flourished in nature with intelligence, skill and technology. Most fly fishers are true sportsman and practice catch and release. Unlike most other human activity in nature, this sport is not destructive to the environment.