UBC Okanagan Visual Arts Exhibition
Hosted by the UBCO Visual Arts Course Union (UBCOVACU))
A Landscape without a Horizon
Eclipse Galloway is a landscape painter. These paintings do not delineate horizons. There are no perspectival guidelines that would orient the picture into the recognizable formation of sky-over-land. In Italian Renaissance painting there was an emphasis on a steady sight-line, the transformation of a painted canvas into a window —the creation of stasis. After all, in order to have this still, linear perspective, the imagined viewer of the scene would have to exist in a single immobile location.This type of painting not only generates a picture of a landscape, but also an imagined being witnessing the scene from a specific motionless viewpoint, embodied by the real viewer looking at the painting.
The public is now so familiar with landscape painting born of this tradition, that there is possibly a facile claim it is the most realistic representation of the world — what it is “really” like to see the outdoors. Galloway’s landscapes, while not instantly recognizable as such, reveal a different visible representation of the natural world. The source of her study of the land is not a particular vanishing point, which, I would argue, is the true subject of perspectival painting. Instead, these paintings examine the processes of decay, the physical results of deterioration through time upon natural structures, and a shift in the visual scale which reveals an ecology of the particular. Leaves, flowers and fungi, the detritus of the forest floor, are magnified, creating their own monumental rhythms.
These paintings are composed through a patterned, syncopated, striated surface. Even expressed in the slick context of a digital exhibition, the build-up of paint is apparent. The strata of material on canvas remains faithful to the layered substances of earthly matter, the reality of dirt, the simultaneity of growth and rot that builds the forest floor, and in turn, the forest. The measured flow of painted forms, the accretion of marks and strokes, mesmerizes. There is an all-over composition that creates an enveloping sense in the observer. This sensation is reflective of a different manner of interacting with the natural world. Instead of looking out upon a vista, the viewer is drawn in, sensitized. These images gradually reveal themselves through rhythm and vibratory colour, a method of revelation that echoes a “tuning in” to the forest. It is an attitude of receptivity to nature; walking into the forest and allowing it to seep into consciousness. Rather than offering a controlled path, a direct route, Galloway’s paintings encourage a gradual absorption into the image. It is through the exaltation of the humble yet essential life-forms and living processes of the forest, that Galloway unveils a real yet horizonless landscape.
- Michelle Weinstein