Outback landscape with Green veldt – 2023
Multiple landscape oil panels with photographic and felt collage.
H31.5 x W61 cm.
A patchwork of a variety of preparatory landscape panels are configured in an unorthodox manner. Some are set horizontally in the traditions of landscape painting while others are placed in contradictory vertical positions. On the left a panel has been made flush within a cut out of another. In essence the work is reminiscent of the patchwork Schema of Sean Scully’s abstract work but with loaded content.
The artist’s intention is to provoke thought about the outdated currency of landscape painting. Relying on landscape’s traditions it challenges old accepted canons and conventions and emphasizes the imperative of an introspective review of landscape itself in the art making realm.
In formal terms this collaged/ painting/ assemblage reiterates the artist’s concerns of combining the diametrically opposed and disparate objectives of narrative realism within a modernist grid. The panels are forceably homogenised, one being surgically fused into another but, in traditional landscape arrangement the whole is decidedly non-conventional. In the landscape norm the horizon lines are always parallel to the bottom of the canvas. The minimally worked images forced together in concert have an anti-aesthetic appeal.
To the left of the panels is an upright strip of green felt. This functions to colouristically offset the range of browns and is an intended pun in the title referring to the Afrikaans veldt, or landscape – which also ties the subject matter to the Zulu war artefacts. On the right two weathered timber inserts top and bottom create a tactile dimensionality.
The work’s chronicle straddles the two settler societies of Australia and South Africa, both long-term domiciles of the artist. Centrally included is a magnificent symbol of Zulu weaponry reminiscent of past belligerent struggles in the white conquest of the Southern African land. And Australia was erroneously considered to be Terra Nullius (devoid of human occupation); by a stretch of the bow the empty landscapes symbolically parallel modernism’s lack of content and focality.