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Saturday, 11 August 2012

Spaces and concentrations; the monumental paintings of Gordon Picken


" The spaces and concentrations of this clearly constructed land were stuff for storing in the mind . Their essence was intellectual and emotional.....I found that I could express what I felt only by paraphrasing  what I saw..................I did not feel that my imagination was in conflict with the real ,but that reality was a dispersed and disintegrated form of imagination "
 Graham Sutherland  . The Welsh Sketch Book,'  Horizon ; A review of literature and art. 1942 

"...and every attempt
Is a wholly new start,and a different kind of failure
Because one has only learnt to get the better of words
For the thing one no longer has to say,or the way in which
One is no longer disposed to say it. And so each venture
Is a new beginning,..."

T.S. Eliot  
Four Quartets :East Coker

The monumental contemporary paintings of the Scottish artist Gordon Picken  portray a landscape of absence . This landscape in which the figure is implied and yet absent recall the paintings of American suburbia of Richard Diebenkorn        and also the landscape inventions of , Michael Andrews   ,Graham Sutherland .and Victor Willing.
This feeling of expulsion from the landscape , of course, also brings to mind,both, Adam and Eve in Genesis, and Nicolas Poussin `s painting et in arcadia ego.
Not only does the figure  appear to be absented from  these works but also the spectators` reading of these paintings is continually disrupted by the process of the works construction .These large scale works are constructed from numerous small scale works ,each  fragment " a new beginning".

The monumental scale of these works is not merely an aesthetic affectation but seems to  be a reflection upon the ghosts of  a landscape of  monumental industrial production, the landscape of post- industrial lowland Scotland.

                                        " The World Goes On By Itself "

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