Looking at the contemporary discourse of painting today, three North West based artists apply their painterly nounce towards the landscape in a new exhibition at Warrington Museum & Art Gallery. Figuring out in their own unique and separate ways how to make sense of the world around them.
Following a tradition spanning centuries painting has always been a tool used to depict the realities surrounding people’s lives. Most often it would be of people or objects and it wasn’t until much later that artists would consider the landscape as an ‘object’ in which to paint. Advances in travel and technology allowed for extended freedom, choice and access to new art and culture. This had a knock-on effect in how artists depicted the world.
Today we are overloaded with unlimited choice and technology has changed how we access information and communicate with people, so its really interesting to see how artists convey this onto canvas. There have been many conversations that painting is dead. Alas to all those naysayers, painting will never die. Its just feeling around for another way to be represented and interacted with. We constantly evolve and so does an artists response in what they paint.
The artists in A Strange Reality have assessed their response to the landscape in three different ways. Looking at the physical evidence of human behaviour such as junkyards in ‘Scrap III’ 2013, shipping containers and derelict buildings, Josie Jenkins paintings depict an overwhelming consequence of urban decay and disorder, lying side-by-side in a contemporary mis-match of marbles, chequered roads and paperclips. A cheeky reference once again to the debris found left around and another distinguishing influence of human behaviour.
Considering themes of isolation, melancholy, history, memory and mortality, Paul Mellor’s paintings still display faith in the relevance of painting in a digital age. Referencing a psychological space as opposed to a physical space, it seems that the landscape is actually a secondary reference point and the dialogue his paintings give such as in ‘Refuge/After the Deluge’ 2017 is actually just the beginning of a whole new capacity of what we consider landscape.
John Elcock’s paintings are the most representational and replicate the historical tradition of landscape painting. Not content with just this however, they express a certain sense of what place means, either in its unique light, history and geology, enhancing a landscape’s distinguishing characteristics. In ‘The Decoy’ 2016 lies an ancient monument which may now be a local gathering point but was once used as a lure to death for wildfowl.
What’s great is this painterly differentiation. Even today the topical effect of landscape enables these three painters to come up with their own individual responses and painterly differentiation. It’s this diversity that leads to unceasing possibilities and an artists strange realities can manifest itself in many ways.
|John Elcock ‘The Decoy’|
|Far left – Josie Jenkins|
|Paintings by Josie Jenkins|
|‘Quartz, Erratic’ 2017 by John Elcock|
|‘Scrap III’ (top) and ‘Scrap I’ (bottom) 2013 – Josie Jenkins|
|Paintings by Paul Mellor|
A Strange Reality
On until Sat 16th Sept
Warrington Museum & Art Gallery