We invent the world embodied in our work. We live in that world, recognize ourselves in it; it belongs to the artist, it is the artist. And much as we artists, each in our own way, inhabit this world-within- the-world, again and again we must erase its clear outlines and, in a seemingly restless state, cast about in the wider world. How to travel between the wider world and the world in the work of art? Many of us believe Wordsworth’s dictum, “Let Nature be your teacher.” Artists who take these words to heart feel the anxiety of being nature’s students, that is, of understanding what it is nature can tell us. The lessons have implications for our craft, which must countenance both mimesis and artifice. And, finally, we know that we ourselves are part of nature.
This search is particularly urgent for painters on the contemporary scene, because inventing a world on a rectangle, stroke by stroke, is now an underestimated or even endangered activity. Nature lies in the faithfully observed motif and equally in the analytically invented form. Our art world has shut these two ways of grasping nature’s lessons off from each other more than before; the dialogue between artists who learn from nature in different ways has almost sputtered out. This exhibition asserts that for us four painters, in our various worlds, nature is the teacher.