January 13 — February 17, 2018

Essential Landscape

Reinhard Ziegler



Essential: -An adjective conveying Essence, Aroma, Scent, Spirit
-That which is fully necessary, the heart or spirit of something
-The defining characteristic

Landscape has been an enduring theme and passion for over three decades. Earlier work presented scenes in precise detail, in the time-honored tradition of depicting nature “as it is”. More recently, images have explored the possibility of metaphorical content by adding a sense of otherness to the familiar.

In the long-running “Kinetic States” (1989 – 2010) landscape became the stuff of daydreams and impressions, full of motion and soft edges produced by applying pastels to large-scale photographs.

The series, “Landscape is like…” (2014-2015) looked for beauty in complexity, with deliberately chaotic compositions and the abstracted aesthetic of black and white photography. This work took a deliberate stance against the traditional notions of grandeur and idealized views.

This most recent work “Essential Landscape” is comprised primarily of paintings using carbon black acrylic on watercolor paper as well as photographic digital prints. The paintings are literal translations of photographs taken in the snowbound, volcanic landscapes of Norway and Alaska.

This work marks a move to a further level of abstraction than earlier works and it reflects a desire to reveal the bare essence or underlying spirit of places that are somewhat “unplaceable”. In the actual scenes, rock, snow and sky merge into seamless, flat vistas. In this work, land, horizon and scale are rendered as ambiguous, two-dimensional patterns. While totally realistic, these pared down images take on a mysterious, Rorschach-like quality. What remains are only the essential elements of each scene: the extremes of white and black. An unknown landscape in an unknown place.

The ultimate illusion of these works may be that the depicted landscapes are in equilibrium or even static. In fact, the opposite is true. Largely unseen global forces are actively reshaping the very essence of each of these places. While, this body of work was not initially conceived as a documentary project, it may ultimately serve that very purpose by “freezing” for us places and moments that are rapidly being altered or lost.

Artists in this Exhibition

Artist Video