Landscape as a Portrait of Humanity
by J. Fatima Martins
Be it skyscape, seascape or cityscape, the art of landscape is a much-loved ubiquitous and eclectic subject. It can be depicted in countless physical and conceptual manners — realist or abstracted, subject pure or hybrid, hard-edged or expressive. It contains the all-encompassing sublime; it’s a metaphor, symbol and a dichotomous place, and the foundation and diorama containing everything.
To celebrate the enduring power of this form, the Providence Art Club (PAC), guided by gallery coordinator Michael Rose, presents “Outside/ In,” a conceptually clever exhibition honoring tradition while looking to the artistic future. At its most simple, the exhibition presents how artists “bring the outdoors inside,” and on a deeper level, it explores the meeting place of exterior/interior as an emotional state where the physicality of place serves as the transmitter of experience.
To tackle the subject, PAC unites four member artists, working in different styles, for a two-part exhibition. As with other PAC member shows, it was the artists themselves who collaborated on the theme, direction and show title.
Marjorie Hellman (Providence) exhibits a solo exhibition of analytical, geometric and minimalist abstract cityscapes that are part of the larger show, yet separate because of their distinct formula and hardedge style. The other group presents more fluid, painterly, impressionistic, textural, expressive, mixed-media and traditional views of landscape.
Donato Beauchaine (North Kingstown, RI), a versatile painter of all subjects, is showing mostly oil cloudscapesin a joyful and graceful romantic and expressive manner that examines the sky as object; Georgia Nassikas (McLean, Virginia) builds up abstracted textural encaustic surfaces mimicking the physicality of deep organic earth surfaces, color fields, and horizon lines; and Mary Dorsey Brewster (Providence) delights in painting semi-realist traditional views examining interior structure of wild spaces.
These artists present landscape as a physical place as well as an idea, a condition and as visual poetry. It contains memory, transition and mystery. A few questions arise while examining the different manners in which the landscape is depicted. Can an outdoor view contain an element of “inside-ness,” or what’s inside the outdoors? Is landscape art a type of self-portrait of the artist? What does landscape art tell us about the public/private life of the artist?