Research Point: Expressive Landscape
Look at the eerie, dream-like landscapes painted by the Surrealists…
Surrealism was a movement that was very much in vogue when I was taking art in school. I found them fascinating, clever and strange – now I still see the skill but some I find too convoluted, probably down to the cynicism that enveloped me as I got older.
Consider the work of some artists who have sought to express the more emotional and subjective aspects of landscape…
Having poured over many of Graham Sutherland’s paintings on-screen, I am completely hooked. He encompasses everything I struggle yet aspire to achieve. His sense of colour evokes atmosphere and mood whereas mine is mud – his balance of composition leads you around his paintings and leaves you wondering. I am in awe as he combines his draughtsmanship and emotion into a coherent vision yet maintains the mystery of the image.
Being a war artist in the First World War, Nash had obviously embedded his emotional reactions to what he witnessed within his work. His war paintings I find, are quite matter of fact in their handling, yet the colours and expressions on faces leave no doubt as to the suffering. He shows this suffering not only of the soldiers but the land itself. I feel that he was a positive thinking man, he liked to show hope by bringing in the sun’s rays of a new dawn – even rendering Spring in the Trenches, Ridge Wood as a new beginning.
Look at landscape paintings by the German Expressionists…. and by artists of the Symbolist movement…
The work of Emil Nolde is mostly new to me – I find it wonderfully colourful and evocative. The sense of wild abandon that has been tamed into a rectangular painting, a balance of letting paint do its thing yet in a way that he wants. Again, a skill to which I aspire but that is frustratingly elusive.
The work I’ve seen by Gustave Moreau is really interesting. His landscapes are so expressive and loose, dripping in atmosphere yet the figures he puts in them are classical and seem oddly out of place to me. It’s as if he is painting in two different eras.