Unique Take On Landscapes at OCMA

The genre of landscape painting has come a long way from the works of traditional landscape artists such as the famous English Romantic artist JMW Turner. Modern artists have begun to incorporate new mediums, techniques and ways of expressing the physical, creating amazing visual treasures and completely transforming the traditional landscape painting.
The Orange County Museum of Art is currently showcasing an exhibit entitled ‘Landscape Confection.’ This exhibit features 13 internationally diverse artists exploring new and progressive ways of depicting landscapes.
As you walk through the museum, the paintings practically take on a life of their own. The exhibit is colorful, bold and exciting. The artists move away from the ‘traditional landscape’ in which they realistically depict the natural world before them. The abstract is mixed with the traditional, giving the effect of candy ‘confection’ for the eyes. Each piece takes landscapes to a new height in visual delight and exploration.
What was most striking about the exhibit was the artists’ usage of new mediums. The genre no longer consists of simple paintings. The artists in the exhibit introduced such materials as stitched fabric, beads, yarn and even silicone.
Artist Neal Rock utilizes one of these new mediums to explore his own version of a ‘landscape’ in his works entitled ‘Work from the Polari Range.’ Blues, yellows, greens and browns are all juxtaposed to create a visceral structure creating a kind of aquatic explosion. Rock uses silicone piped through pastry icing bags to transform shapes into seashells, fish and other sea creatures roaming the ocean floor. He takes the world of sculpture and turns it into a surreal landscape depicting the aquatic world, his own version of a landscape.
Another artist utilizing a unique medium is artist Rowena Dring. In her piece entitled ‘Dunes [2004],’ Dring depicts an entire mountainside through stitched fabric. Dring’s use of fabric creates fantastically harsh lines and bold shapes in her own version of the landscape of a mountainside.
Also using a different medium than the traditional paint is artist Kori Newkirk in his piece entitled ‘Bam Bam [2003].’ Newkirk uses plastic pony beads and aluminum threaded through synthetic human hair to create a city scene that would rival the most traditional and talented landscape artists. Newkirk depicts a city bridge with a background of a brilliant city at an early morning hour. As the beads hang freely in the museum air, the breeze causes them to dance, bringing the art to life.
The artists featured in the exhibit have taken the definition of the traditional landscape to new heights through the different mediums used to depict them. Even the artists, who chose traditional mediums were capable, through their own vision, to create something completely new and anything but mundane. Landscapes are no longer the physical manifestations of the natural world around you. Some of the artists changed the meaning of landscape to depicting one’s atmosphere without limit.
Katie Pratt is one of the few artists featured in the collection who decided to use acrylic and oil paints in depicting her own version of a landscape.
Pratt’s piece titled ‘Finisterre [2003]’ appears to be anything but traditional. Small circular patterns and spots of paint mixed together give the illusion of looking through a microscope at a microorganism.
This is a very different landscape in that it is taking the space around a microorganism and turning it into a ‘landscape’ through recreating the effect in a size that we can visually experience. Who would have thought that the space around a microorganism could be thought of as a landscape? It’s a creative way of looking at the world and seeing the potential for art in every place imaginable.
The exhibit shows in an honest light the way art can make the viewer feel like they are encountering something that no one else has ever seen. Everyone interprets art differently; therefore, everyone sees every piece like no one else.
The exhibit is a must-see for the adventurous who would like to delight and entice the senses. ‘Landscape Confection’ will be running at OCMA through May 7.
Museum admission is $8 for students, $10 for adults. It is definitely an $8 well-spent.
To find out more about the exhibit or other upcoming exhibits being held at OCMA visit their Web site at http://www.OCMA.net or call the museum at (949) 759-1122.