This post is part two of an overview of five contemporary NZ landscape artists, who provided works for ‘New Perspectives on Landscape’ which has been touring the South Island, culminating in a show at eastern southland gallery
Fiona Van Oyen
Hannah Joynt (link to Hannah’s pastels webpage)
Each artist challenges the overwhelming (and unquestioned) use of perspective in art, and also the very limited view of what is thought of as ‘landscape’.
” Photographs, paintings, screens and windows may present land in a frame. We call this a ‘Landscape’. However, the represented ‘Landscape’ and the actual experience of being in the land are two very different things. The latter is the experience of being immersed compared with the mediated position of the viewer. ‘Landscape’, a western construct that emerged during the renaissance holds a major influence over our perception of land and place.
Joynt explores different drawing processes and typologies. Her works range from vast series of small drawings made en-plein-air during long walking journeys to detailed studies in pastel. It is the tactility of pastel that she enjoys and connects her to the subject. Her work is as much concerned with finding ways to express her phenomenological experience with the land as it is about critiquing the landscape genre. ”
Some difficult concepts here! ‘Landscape’ is arguably the most misused word in English (shortly followed by ‘library’ and ‘architecture’!) and it is useful to be reminded that a landscape scene is not a landscape, especially when so much of what we see published now are simulations of a designers’ idea of a landscape and not even a photoshopped image of a real landscape.
Phenomenology for me (as I was trained to use the concept) is an approach to a real place to understand it’s essence. It is a conscious stepping away from analysing a place using plan views, elevations and perspective.
It can be a simple as
sitting still in a place
….thinking myself into the surroundings
……..becoming my surroundings
…………losing sense of self for long enough
to get hints of a place’s essence, it’s uniqueness, what makes it different from that place over there.
A sense of this experience comes with Joynt’s pastel of a wetland at Oturehua (o-tur-ray-hu-a, the place where the summer star stands still); there’s a real sense of immediacy brought about partly by a very high horizon line, partly by feeling pulled in by the high horizon line and also by showing the natural patterning in the grasses, rather than showing them as an undifferentiated mass as is more common in paintings (and which tend to get lost in photos where too much detail is shown to the detriment of understanding).
A nice way into phenomenology is Kevin Lynch’s What Time Is This Place? , although written in 1976 this still provides a readable way into this useful concept using the sense of time, not clock time, but the real time of a space: biological time; earth time; human time…