Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Mountains and time

Beerwah through the Trees

This is sort of what Mt. Beerwah looks like when viewed looking south from about 100 metres up my road. The trees and foliage have been added in front which were loosely copied from another drawing - a drawing of the rainforest at Mary Cairnscross Park.

If all the ground was generally flat and mountains did not exist, would landscape painting have developed as it has? Also, would our perception of distance and time be different?

Generally a typical landscape painting has a foreground, some trees, a mid ground, some mountains, and some sky. To me this seems like a space/time illustration: sometimes we measure distance in time - how far it to Brisbane from Beerwah? Some will answer, "about one hour" and others will answer in kilometres.

If one plays with the perspective or distance aspect of a landscape one can to some degree alter the time feeling of the work. This is similar to what Pollock said about his work, "I don't illustrate my ideas but I express my ideas". If one just illustrates the landscape then it will generally conform to all the notions of space and time. But if you try to express the idea of landscape one can start to play with and tease space and time. Not only is space and time altered but also the meaning and relevance. In some way this shows some of the difference between eastern landscapes and typical western landscapes or the difference between Albert Namatjira's landscapes and more traditional indigenous art.

Someone said to me recently, "I can appreciate art that seems to be a good copy or illustration of the subject but find it hard to understand modern art" (paraphrased). That is a fair enough comment from someone not immersed in the arts, but what for instance is a piece of music copying?

My drawing above like most of my landscapes, is stuck between being a typical landscape and a more iconic one. In fact in some ways I think we see the world a bit like this - we bring a lot of ideas to our reading of the universe as we move through it.

1 comment:

  1. It's good to read your thinking out loud David, as you ponder what it means to be an artist; what's happened to Rog he's also good at that.

    Some would say that distances between places can be measured in years, I'm not sure what they mean.

    Strange isn't it that people often want a painting to look a lot like reality though with music (which is just organised sound) they generally prefer abstract constructs of the human mind.

    Why is that?
    Maybe it has something to do with how conscious we are of what we see over what we hear?


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