Friday, April 16, 2010

Landscape painting, under the microscope

Tula Telfair, Pleasure Was Considered Decadent, 2010.  Oil on canvas, 70h x 80w inches. Courtesy of Forum Gallery.

Although Tula Telfair's landscape paintings occupy monumental canvases that seem to encourage distanced observation, she urges her viewers to step close to each work. Imagine looking at a painting under a microscope. On Telfair's canvas, you'll see the traces of three to seven different painting techniques, for the way that paint sits on the surface varies depending on the terrain that's represented. This style of seeing invites the viewer to imagine her style of working on the canvas by examining the brushstrokes themselves.

Telfair's actions are preserved forever on the surface of her paintings, and are a direct response to the imagined landscape. As physical terrains shift, so does her method of painting each subject, with a towering expanse of cloud depicted intentionally differently from, for example, an expanse of field. Her technique speaks to a rigorous art education and deeply thought-out creative process. As Telfair puts it, in her landscapes, paint is a subject in itself.

So be sure to lean in closely to examine Telfair's landscapes when you visit the exhibit. A scientist is rewarded with a new display when peering through the microscope, and you'll be rewarded with an entirely different view of Telfair's paintings by examining them thoroughly!

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