Although lockdown has undoubtedly seen increased screen time and a spike in Zoom subscriptions, there has also been an upside to restaurants and pubs being closed. Cumbria University research states a record high in people’s connection with nature during lockdown, noting that 77% of their respondents had taken a photo or video of nature during the pandemic. With people trading gym classes for running and pub lunches for walks, society is more connected with nature than ever before. This international shift in mood is being translated into an artistic trend with photographers, painters and sculptors all rising to the challenge of capturing landscapes in an emotive and timely way. We look at the different ways that you can add landscapes to your collection and note why they are the sought-after genre of the season.
They transport you to another world.
For those wintery evenings where the bitter outdoors seems less than appealing, why not turn to art to get your nature fix? Landscape art is a great way to experience flora and fauna, right from your sofa. Photographer David Yarrow is internationally renowned for his wildlife images, depicting everything from the Sahara Desert to the snow-capped mountains of Norway. His use of black and white photography adds an intensity to his shots that is utterly absorbing. Yarrow’s landscapes transport you to a visceral time and place, capturing the essence of the scenery, so if you are looking to travel to the world’s most diverse terrains (without a 10-day quarantine), Yarrow’s works are the answer.
Landscapes are no longer renowned just for their beauty. In recent years, artists have started to consider the topic with a tongue-in-cheek approach. Referencing the roots of the genre with an anachronistic twist, Mr. Brainwash is one such artist that has revitalised traditional landscape painting for a 21st century audience. Whether quoting pastoral scenes like the golden countryside in Happy Days or citing rugged cityscapes inspired by the industrial revolution as featured in Chu Chu Around The World, Mr. Brainwash’s landscapes are anything but conventional. The artist comically overlays conventional rustic scenes with nostalgic cartoons and familiar drawings that creates both a fascinating and charming dynamic. Paired with a seemingly antiquated frame, Mr. Brainwash’s landscapes have turned the genre on its head, proving that landscapes can be as funny as they are engaging.
Long gone are the days where a genre is limited by medium. In recent years, contemporary art has seen an explosion in cross-pollination between medium and genre. From still life collages to history sculptures, landscape is no longer relegated to naturalistic oil paint. Dan Baldwin creates his deconstructed landscapes with a plethora of materials such as pure pigment, silkscreen printing, acrylic paint and earthenware pottery. Fragmented Landscape is a vivacious reimagining of the traditional genre featuring vibrant colours and hypnotic patterns. Baldwin’s alternative approach, using space and dimension as well as colour and form, elevates the genre in an unconventional and unique way.
They play a key role in the history of art.
Landscape painting has a rich and complex history, with Occidental origins of the genre spanning all the way back to the vistas of ancient Rome. Many of art history’s most memorable movements have been defined by the genre, including art during the Industrialisation period, Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art. Much like Mr. Brainwash, Jeff Koons reimagines such defining landscapes for a contemporary audience. However, unlike the street artist, Koons focuses upon the works’ provenance, rather than humour. Taking the Post-Impressionist’s fields of Van Gogh or Monet’s iconic waterlilies, Koons inserts himself into the art historical narrative, disrupting familiar landscapes with his signature reflective material. By doing this, Koons both alludes to the masters of landscape painting and aligns himself with the virtuosi that came before him, by including the self-referential lustrous aspect in his work.
As proven by the works of Dan Baldwin and Jeff Koons, for every naturalistic landscape in the world, there seems to be a colourful and vibrant counterpart. Rendered in a non-naturalistic palette, Chris Moon is just one example of the artists revitalising the genre through bold pigments and a kaleidoscopic colour scheme. Using a mix of oil pastel and charcoal, Moon creates vibrant sketches of the English countryside. Moon’s vivid palette echoes the lively landscapes of David Hockney and proves that landscape art can truly bring the brightest of colours to any room.