Somehow I tripped up over an image by a Canadian painter Robert Marchessault, and couldn’t help wanting to share my find with you. I have written before about the wonderful feelings I have around trees, and clearly, my experience is shared by this man. A painting is not a tree, but a good painting can provoke similar opportunities to fall into the sort of reverie that the natural trees themselves inspire. I was not surprised when I read his explanation about how important it is for him to paint rather than photograph, the process of viscerally creating a physical form being important to him . His awareness of the tree being both form and metaphor creates the atmosphere wherein the viewer can explore the importance of life forces within themselves, strength, flexibility, time all are embodied in these portraits of trees. Portraits is a good term, since it describes personality being a facet of the painting, and trees do have signatures as individual as our own. I particularly enjoy the image that the artist explores of the solitary tree, against a backdrop existentially bare of paraphenalia, exploring the human experience of understanding that the self is ultimately alone in the universe.
Marchessault is a well-established Canadian painter with an extensive exhibition history. His newest series of work on panel evolves out of his continued interest in the contemporary, sublime landscape. He states: “My painting can be seen as an inquiry which ultimately seeks to reveal how painted images act as a metaphor for who or what I am. The landscape paintings, which I have been making since the mid-1970s, seek to reveal my emerging understanding of the non-duality of nature. These works have gone through a range of artistic treatments with the 1990s seeing a focus on space, light, textures, atmosphere and distance. I am intrigued with the sensation of being personally diminished when experiencing great spaces. Deserts, mountains, and vast open plains make me feel that some fundamental truth is revealed by this sense of dissolution into these spaces. My landscape paintings are made from memory, not from on-site drawings or photographs. I use memory as a filtering agent to remove nonessential visual elements. When a work is successful, it has a poetry that presents some aspect of my understanding of who I am.”
Ilse Grassinger, the director of the Durham Public Art Gallery, wrote the following lines in 2009 for a group show he was in titled Arboreal.
“Robert Marchessault explores contemporary sublime landscape in paintings that repeatedly foreground a single tree, stripped of non-essential visual elements and emptied of any human presence. Poetic and meditative, these trees are the quiet centre of being and a visual invocation of human self-awareness.”
Robert Marchessault can be further researched on his own blog, full of interesting detail about how he paints, and what he is trying to achieve when he does. It has lots of detail, such as short video footage of his working studio, which is fascinating.
Furthermore, he has a number of books easily available from blurb, which he has published at extremely reasonable prices. I can’t afford a painting (I wish), but one of his collection of works will be sitting comfortably on my bookshelf soon!!Go here to buy one for a treat http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/1336172
He also has a great website here http://www.sentex.net/~bmarche/and the blog link is here,http://robert-marchessault.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2011-01-01T00:00:00-05:00&updated-max=2012-01-01T00:00:00-05:00&max-results=31
Because I love being amongst them, sometimes I am inspired to write about them. they are a recurring theme in my poetry.
Morning sky is spotless,
endlessly smooth azure and
unbroken in its promise.
Emerald sap is rising, dewed
shadows curve long, outlines
as sharp as creases,
mirroring winter trees, bare
but for sticky buds.
The air itself fresh
as the first day;
carrying caws of crows
alongside the drone
of engines high above.
This is as close to God
as I get;
non-believer,lost in rapture and
letting the tree take my weight.