1997-99 ITALIAN: STATEMENT

 "VFM 31", 1998, pastel on paper, 42” x 60”

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STATEMENT:

For two years, I spent time in an Italian medieval hilltop town, painting from the landscape.  These drawings, monotypes, and oil paintings are about that experience, and about my ongoing relationship with the land. 

I work from the landscape with the nuances of contour in a notational manner, and unite an abstract sensibility with keen observation.  This work contains tension between what is implied and what is explicitly described, between form and formlessness.   What is the necessary minimal information to bring space into the picture surface?  The notational quality describes the bare-bone contours of the underlying landform.  The distant, floating viewpoint evokes aerial landscapes, maps, borders, and nations.  The colors are invention rather than description.   Although the work emerges from observation, I have not attempted to mirror nature, but to capture an imaginative experience of it. 

The Italian farmland has been formed in an ancient working relationship between man and nature, with contours and patterns that are striking.  Do the farmers use a conscious aesthetic sense in planting the fields and orchards?  Was this aesthetic sense formed by the land itself?  Which is more formative here--the natural or human-shaped?  Can the two forces be separated?  For me, the Italian landscape evokes a sense of yearning for harmony and balance between humans and nature.  My Italian experience has led me to look more closely at the interaction of these forces in the American landscape, and to consider ways it is similar and different. 

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