Even as we pass through it, a landscape is already in the process of being remembered and reinvented. These artifacts, witnessed and conditioned by memory, may be appropriated for unrelated purposes within a contemporary context, reconstructed for the present. As Husserl observed in “Transcendental Aesthetics”, there is a process of observation and interaction between a symbol created in the past and the contemporary viewer, establishing an ongoing dynamic between subject and object. The re-implacement of landscape- generalized, particularized, and idealized, can summon that peculiar boundary between the iconic and the personal. Landscape can be used as a medium with which we are creatively involved, a locus for the interplay of orientation, identity, memory and the poetic possibilities of misrecognition. Its value lies in its openness, its internal dynamism, and the scope of the imaginary variations to which it lends itself.
My recent landscape paintings are primarily built around the cloud symbol as a depiction of event, at once internal, experiential and representational. The parameters for these events are of place rather than site and suggest the apocalyptic and contemplative sublime. The clouds depicted do not reference a specific photograph but are aggregated forms generated from a multi-source photographic index. Each cloud composition is derived from a collage method which conflates images of sky, pollution, smoke, explosions, plumes, swarms, and overexposed film. Additionally, the convention of field (plane) is employed to frame and stage these lurching deformations. Compositionally, field assumes the dual role of ground (rural and urban) and atmosphere (color and light). The image value of cloud (as event) lies within its openness, its internal dynamism, and the scope of the imaginary variations to which it lends itself. Thus field and cloud collide, collude, overlap and unfold along the horizon line of precipice. These are dramas of transition, a landscape on the move where there is no contradiction between the limitless of becoming and the singularity of the event.
Christopher Saunders received his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University with a
minor in art history. In 1997, he received his MFA from the Mason Gross School of the Arts at
He has participated in group exhibitions in Beijing, Los Angeles, Berlin, Boston, Kansas
City, Miami and New York City. He is a 2010 NYFA Fellow in Painting.
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