Visionary Landscape II is the second exhibition organized by Christopher Grimes Gallery that explores contemporary interpretations of the traditional motif ot the landscape within art history. Featuring new works by an international group of artists—Marco Brambilla, Sharon Ellis, Takehito Koganezawa, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle, and Richard T. Walker—this exhibition is not so much about the visual representation of the landscape as subject matter, as it is about investigating the concept of landscape environments through individual perceptions.
From the early Renaissance, when the landscape was utilized as a backdrop for religious scenes and portraits, to its exalted place in prose and paintings by the Romantics in the mid 18th-century, the landscape continues to be a subject artists turn to when contemplating the ways we relate to the places where we live and the impact we as humans have on the land. Simon Schama in his book, Landscape and Memory, argues that the veneration of nature is “one of our most powerful yearnings: the craving to find nature a consolation for our mortality.” In the context that our culture is formed from our experience and memory of our natural world, the artists in this exhibition approach the study of the landscape through various cultural prisms, whether historical, environmental, spiritual, or with regards to questions of personal identity.
The works in Visionary Landscape II range from the subtle to the fantastic, all expressing the idea that the landscape does not have to be about any specific physical location. Marco Brambilla’s intricate video collage, Evolution (Megaplex), for instance, depicts the apocalyptic landscape of human conflict through the lens of cinema; Untitled (The Weather Project), Takehito Koganezawa’s quartet of drawings depicting various meteorological patterns, combines both poetic abstraction and representation; and using aerial shots of Antarctic icebergs taken by NASA, Iñigo Manglano-Ovalle’s glicee prints are strikingly beautiful and mysterious, yet they also raise metaphysical questions about the future of such diminishing ecosystems.
Two artists in the exhibit are steeped in the Romantics’ deep veneration towards the natural environment. Sharon Ellis affirms her connection to the spiritual and sensual aspects of nature through detailed renderings of sylvan motifs. In contrast, Richard T. Walker’s photography and video works confront the complex relationship between people and the natural landscape through language, music and performance.