The Quiet River
Painting on the Hawkesbury River ( published in Australian Artist magazine October 2015)
By Ambrose Reisch
Painting is a formal induction into the dialectical relationship of reality and language. In painting, what we see as reality, is transformed into a visual language, (a series of marks and symbols), which has been informed by what we see (perception) and what we know (conception). In this context we organise what we see and what we know in such a way that reflects our preferred view and understanding of the subject and the medium that represents the subject. The medium and the subject are inseperable. My painting practice is informed by these considerations. (fig.1)
Landscape, as a subject for painting, offers an interesting dialectic between the distant space of the landscape (distal) and the nearby space which is contained and immediate (proximal). In my paintings, these two very different spaces are pliable and interchangeable. In this context, the representation of the Hawkesbury River Landscape has been to view the landscape as a metaphor for Landscape, rather than a landscape in its own right. (fig.2 ,3)
The third and most important space, in this formula is the space in the painting. Here within the picture plane, the far (distal) and the near (proximal) are contrived and reorganised to compliment the spatial requirements of the image. This involves various compositional contrivances to create dialectical tensions, which in turn are complimented by an aesthetics’ that is heavily edited and reductionist. Painting as an interpretative medium allows us to renegotiate what we see with what we know. That’s an interesting place because it invariably presents something that we don’t know. In this sense paintings create their own realities.
The act of Painting is a physical process. Paint has a plasticity that allows us to push it about, to weave it and layer it till an image emerges. Here there is also a dialectic which exists between the physical process of painting and the conceptual intentions that are to inform the outcome. Within the image the underlying structure is represented by the verticality of form and the horizontality of landscape. This vertical/ horizontal axis provides a dynamic dialectic within the picture plane. (fig.5)
I work in series and will repeat a similar idea over and again with a range of nuances as a way of exploration and investigation. Each time staying true to the general design strategy.
The Hawkesbury River has an enduring history as a working river. To this day it remains a harsh environment. It’s imposing landscape with its high precipitous rock formations and headlands are moody with their deep shadows. These I love and they inform my painting. The impenetrable bush, the barnacled rocks, the entangled mangroves and the unrelenting tides moving in and out in a cycle of compensation and retribution payout a profound philosophy and provides my paintings with the metaphysical grit and perceptual nuances that they require.