THE EVOCATIVE LANDSCAPE
Nov 26, 2019
It seems that contemporary art has reflected on the individual's relationship with the environment, focusing on the modification of nature, the invasion, the occupation, the appropriation and the limitation. The construction of walls, the erection of buildings, the urbanisation of the scene... are themes today intimately connected with other major concerns of our time, such as global warming or the overexploitation of resources. This trend shows an adaptation of artistic language to the technological dictates of our time, and recurring use of materials, disciplines and techniques that incorporate a great visual load while delving into a message of denunciation, which goes beyond aesthetic impositions.
The prioritisation of discourse has displaced the traditionally reigning composition. We are in the era that formalism has lost its validity, and attention shifts to eclecticism, reuse and narrative value. The majority of contemporary art appears as a medium that channels the criticism of our time, which condenses the concern of the new generations, the pessimist vision before an uncertain future and the questioning of the values of a conformist, well-off and consumerist society.
Despite this, some authors continue to resort to more traditional elements to condense their expressive desires. The banishment of beauty as a motive and purpose in art has given way to creations that, while incorporating technologies available to everyone and employing a closer language, do not have the aesthetics among their discursive priorities. However, the commitment to more classic scenes and compositions is a rara avis that renews the inherited pictorial legacy and is a way to recover a less intervened approach to the environment. At the same time, the return to the landscape serves to value nature and generate a sense of responsibility for its care and conservation.
The work of Wilbur Streech (Fullerton, California, 1914) and Hiroko Otake (Tokyo, 1980) explores this trend. Although for the latter, the influence of traditional Japanese art is somewhat expected, we can also see Japanese reminiscences in Streech's work. In both cases, the landscape and flora become the central motif for artistic proposals that seek serenity and the balance of spirit through natural contemplation. The predominance of transparencies, the superposition of layers and soft tones create an atmosphere of meditation and mysticism. Their work invites us to enjoy direct contact with the environment, the pure experience of observation and silence.