Landscape x 4: Geoffrey James, Alex Cameron, Jennifer Stead, Kelly Richardson

…Urbanization brings out a nostalgia for pastoral and wild landscapes; with 80% of Canadians now living in urban centres, the continuing popularity of landscape art in mainstream culture is not surprising. Contemporary artists, however, have had a difficult time with the cliché-ridden genre. Generally, they shy away from the beauty of the natural landscape, mesmerized as they are by the turmoil of the city and its bordering wastelands, and the infinite territories of technology. “The hardest thing to do is photograph beautiful things,” photographer Geoffrey James remarked in an interview with Border Crossings (issue no. 81, 2002).
The Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (KW/AG) has, in several exhibitions in recent years, investigated contemporary landscape art as it relates to its history in painting, when beauty, the picturesque and the sublime were still the stuff of landscape. This winter, four concurrent exhibitions were shown that appear to revalidate the landscape genre for the present, catching, just in time, the disappearing beauty of the land. In the process, and perhaps unintended, not only the genre of landscape, but also its equally antiquated media of painting (Alex Cameron), drawing (Jennifer Stead) and analogue photography (Geoffrey James) are revalidated through the sheer joy and craftsmanship the artists convey. Using new media, Kelly Richardson overlays the traditional landscape with signs of an electronic age, but even these landscapes are rendered wondrous and beautiful…
Buy Issue #106 to read the full review!**