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Reading Thoreau in the City, 1992

Alan Rankle

Art Review, March 1996
 

I've been interested in landscape and landscape art virtually since I can remember. My earliest experience of painting was going to Oldham Art Gallery when I was about 13. Then the paintings that most impressed me were the landscapes in the Lees Collection - Turner, Constable, de Wint. The next pictures to really fire me up were the Zen landscapes of Sesshu and Sengai and after that the raucous seascapes of de Kooning.

From the mundane to the sublime, landscape art is a continuous thread throughout history woven into the fabric of how we think and feel. While styles may come and go, they also mirror profound changes in the way we perceive our environment.

In the light of present day environmental issues, landscape art has an increasing relevance that transcends stylistic variations and critical contentions. The intrinsic connection between, say, 19th century watercolours and a modern conceptualist like James Turrell has always seemed pretty easy to grasp. It is that same feeling of being confronted by the awesome scale and sense of the absolute of nature that compels artists to try to catch that elusive moment where the mystery of the landscape reflects their inner feelings, and then try to make it their own.

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