.MW Capacity is pleased to present Tenses of Landscape, an invitational group exhibition of contemporary landscape paintings. The exhibition is on view from October 1 – November 4, 2012, in the University of Arkansas Fine Arts Center Gallery, in Fayetteville, AR. Throughout October, MW Capacity will post a series of artist interviews and other statements, as well as images of works featured in Tenses of Landscape. We sent the participating artists a list of general questions and prompts. Some replied, some replied in-depth, some chose not to. This post includes some responses to the prompts, as well as images and links.
My greatest hope for my work is to use the strengths of painting to lend a grandeur to the world we live in. And for me, the suburban sprawl that Rem Koolhaus called “junk space” is a part of that world. So among the trappings of classical painting – beauty and drapery, color and form – there is still brick and mortar, fluorescent bulbs and house plants. The world is pretty amazing and both the amazing and the mundane can be a site for the uncanny.
That my paintings are constructions – collages of sites from memory, history, and life – is at the front of how they should be viewed. These pictures are their own realities. I hope that they pull on the memories and experiences of the people who look at them. That inside that hand builtworld, one might find stumble across a surprising moment.
Memory is often an act of creation. I made a series of pieces in 2005-2006 that were based on memories of houses I grew up in (Grandma’s house, my childhood home, and so on). In each case, the painterly decisions layered on top of the memories of the real places, so that the memories became more like the paintings. Eyewitnesses can be influenced through questioning to misremember faces, actions, locations. Nevertheless, we rely on our memories to accurately resemble the reality we live in, usually denying that we’re creating large portions of that reality to suit ourselves [editor’s note: Grant’s contribution updated November 13].
MEGAN WILLIAMSON: I paint where I am. Mostly I am in Chicago, so I paint here. I am a landscape painter and always looking for new places to work. In the city I am drawn to sites where nature and infrastructure bump up against each other in curious and (what I see as) paintable ways.
Over my ten years of landscape painting in Chicago I have developed a very particular way of seeing it. I know about the undersides of bridges, where to look for pocket parks and how to work alongside expressway off-ramps. I have found a jewel of a green space surrounded by skyscrapers and where an old quarry has been turned into a park. I have developed a fondness for brick smokestacks, cell phone towers and chimneys because of their compositional potential. I recognize the kinds of trees that thrive here – some by their common name (gingko, oak, linden) others by the names I have given them (wallpaper, garbage, lollipop). Through trial and error I have learned how to address the urban obstacles of parking, access and safety. I also have learned what to do if a flock of Canadian geese get aggressive (bark at them). By working right in them, I have felt quite connected to landscapes of Chicago.
Once I paint a place I never forget it. Seeing it again is always paired with the memory of the painting I did there. The site has become a private landmark for me. Not only have I spent a considerable amount of time in it, and because of the nature of the places I choose, it is unlikely that anyone else has painted the view. In this way, in a city of millions I can lay claim to some amazing real estate. As a painter I have found that connecting to a landscape is important to me.
View more of Megan’s work here. Shown: Strange Brew, 22×29″, 2011