Thursday, September 5, 2013

Newfoundland Suite- Yellow Box Gallery

Sept. 6- mid Oct. 2013 at the Yellow Box Gallery, Saint Thomas University, Fredericton. A group of oil sketches from a series made in 2012 in southwestern Newfoundland. Curated by William Forrestall with text by Virgil Hammock.

Stephen Scott, as you can see from the paintings on the wall, has both a fine eye and hand. These small paintings speak elegantly to the long tradition of landscape painting. He is a plein-airist which simply means that he often paints directly from nature and that gives value to the immediacy of his art. Stephen is also an unabashed romantic and that, in this time and age, is a very good thing when so many of us are trying to be pragmatic about everything in our lives. One needs to step back and view the world in front of us as something wondrous; Stephen does.
Our relationship to nature has changed over the centuries from the fear of the unknown to the celebration of its beauty. Before the urbanization of European and North American society, nature could be a dangerous place where dark things could, and did, happen. Early landscape art reflected these feelings by showing nature as a place best avoided or as a background to human, generally religious, events and, at times, reduced to visual, stock, clich├ęs. However by the mid-17th. Century, landscape painting came into its own as a reflection of the emerging values of humanism. During the 19th. and early 20th. Centuries, landscape painting came to optimize Romantic sensibilities. Today there seems to be little mainstream interest in landscape art perhaps because it does not fit readily into the Postmodern mode except perhaps as a vehicle for irony. Back to Stephen as a romantic--he paints landscape as a window to an understanding of nature, as a thing of beauty. There is no irony in these paintings of the west coast of Newfoundland, only his sense of that what was before his eyes waiting to be discovered by him and now shared with us.
© Virgil Hammock, Sackville NB Canada, Wednesday, 4 September, 2013. 

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