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This painting is one of the original 4 landscapes that moved me from narrative works and urban network themes to confronting the individual relationship to nature as a way of exploring the fertile landscapes of internal, spiritual experience. Of the four original landscapes, this painting shares the greatest amount of focus on urban, technological themes with any painting that came before it.

I like to ask people what they think the landscape depicts, and unfortunately, this is not a painting of a sunset or sunrise. The painting is actually an abstract representation of the first moments of the world’s first atomic bomb explosion – the Trinity test. The text carved into the painting, from left to right, explores the irony inherent in the fact that, mathematically speaking, models of the large-scale “texture” in the universe’s big-bang afterglow are good analogues of the math describing the first moments of the detonation of an atomic bomb. In a singularly 20th century acension day, that initial devastating creative act of “let there be light” awkwardly echoing Oppenheimer’s famous borrowing from the Bhagavad Gita: “If the radiance of a thousand suns were to burst at once into the sky, that would be like the splendor of the mighty one… Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds.”

It is a bleak, artificial landscape.

The other 3 paintings moved from this view of our destructive relationship with nature towards a deeper examination of the various ways that we relate to nature. The second painting was a depiction of a similar fiery destruction that is part of the natural order (i.e. forest fires).

The third painting in the exhibition was a representation of the  deeply individual experience of lying back in tall, fragrant grass on the edge of sleep at sunset on a warm summer’s evening- a direct, individual experience of nature.

The fourth painting examined the abstract quantum duality at the heart of our understanding of reality which is  a completely mental relationship with nature – both a benign opposite to where we started, whilst also being ironically full circle inasmuch as it is representative of the same science that gave us the atom bomb in the first place.

The text and linear grooves carved into the surface of the fourth painting examined the paradox that light can be described and observed as a particle under some circumstances and as a wave in others. Existing in different states was represented metaphorically as a Lake Huron landscape in which ice masses on the horizon towards the end of the melt while open water lies between it and the viewer onshore who looks out towards the ice.

After these four paintings carved narrative text has all but disappeared from my landscape work.


Acrylic on canvas

Private collection of Janet McLeod

This entry was posted on Thursday, December 10th, 2009 at 2:28 pm and is filed under Non-Series, Paintings. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.