Escape to the Country
Etel Adnan | Polly Apfelbaum | Gillian Ayres | Christiane Baumgartner | Miriam de Búrca | Howard Hodgkin | David Nash | Julian Opie | Vicken Parsons | Francis Ruyter | Tom Wesselmann | Paul Winstanley | Richard Woods
For those of us currently unable to leave our urban homes, this Online Viewing Room offers a brief moment of escape to the countryside. Prints, editions, drawings and paintings displayed below celebrate different approaches taken to depict rural and wooded landscapes, scenes of nature, coastlines and vast skies, some real and some imagined.
Two new paintings by Vicken Parsons (b. 1957), seen here for the first time, are inspired by the Norfolk skies in East England. In a move away from evoking architectural spaces, these paintings are influenced by Parsons's regular journeys between her homes in London and Norfolk. A hand-painted etching of a wooded landscape by Paul Winstanley (b. 1954) is inspired by the artist’s travels through northern Finland. Julian Opie (b. 1958) depicts scenes of the Cornish coastline, in South West England, where he has a home and a small boat. Tom Wesselmann (1931 – 2004), transports us to a lakeside in upstate New York using cut metal to present a three-dimensional image entitled Tennanah Lake House, 1992.
Miriam de Búrca (b.1972) alludes to eighteenth-century romantic etchings in her Dysfunctional Landscape series of highly detailed drawings of ancient burial sites in Ireland. Small framed paintings entitled Hand Held Landscapes, 2017, by Richard Woods (b.1966) show green fields and rolling hills. The paintings, in size and subject matter, refer to portable medieval panel paintings that were folded up and carried by worshippers in their pockets for private devotion as well as referencing generic greenbelt 'land for sale' images offered in estate agent windows.
Works by Howard Hodgkin (1932 – 2017) from his final print series After All, are the summation of the visual language that Hodgkin called “representational pictures of emotional situations.” Beach and Coast, 2015-16, hint at memories of childhood summer holidays spent by the sea. Etel Adnan’s (b. 1925) etchings are also suggestive of landscapes that are recorded from memory. Adnan depicts mountains, sunsets, oceans and vast stretches of scenery rendered with large bands of pure colour and recurring abstract motifs.
Gillian Ayres’ (1930 - 2018) love of colour and light was often appropriated from the natural world to create works full of movement. Recurrent shapes in some of her final prints remind us of natural phenomena, such as petals, wings, fans, leaves and stars. The title of her woodcut Maldonada, is taken from the fictional city from the 1726 satirical novel Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. Polly Apfelbaum (b.1955) also employs bright colours to create abstract motifs in her woodblock prints. In contrast to this, Francis Ruyter’s (b.1968) woodcuts depict darker, densely wooded areas, imagery taken from the Vienna Woods, just outside Austria’s capital.
Christiane Baumgartner (b. 1967), who sources her imagery from film stills and photography, presents a unique monumental print which captures the effect of the sun setting and rippling light reflected on water. All the woodcuts in this series reference holiday cocktails in a tongue in cheek nod to lurid alcoholic beverages often consumed on foreign shores. Blue Shade, 2019, a new pastel stencil edition by David Nash (b.1945), featuring a brightly coloured large shaded tree, reflects the natural shapes and forms of his sculpture.
We hope that the artworks in this Online Viewing Room, depicted in each artist’s distinct style, provide you with a momentary escape to the country.