On a clear day you can see forever. The four paintings being shown depict plane crashes and ship wrecks in extreme landscapes - deep jungle, snowy mountains, ocean bed and rocky shoreline. Their sheer scale imbues them with a cinematic scope.
On a clear day you can see forever
David Risley Gallery is pleased to present the first solo show of new paintings by Jonathan Wateridge. The four paintings being shown depict plane crashes and ship wrecks in extreme landscapes - deep jungle, snowy mountains, ocean bed and rocky shoreline. The paintings are painted in oil on large sheets of clear Perspex, built up over 10 layers creating a physical depth within the work. Their sheer scale imbues them with a cinematic scope. They are epic scenes in the vein of Courbet or Franz Capra’s Lost Horizon. Wateridge’s use of models and small sets as a part of the working process on which the paintings are based continues the idea of the wrecks existing in a made, fictional world. The wreckages are out of date, obsolete machines which have ceased to be functional and now operate as metaphor. Time becomes confused in the paintings, with no clues as to when they are set.
The layered paintings grew out of an interest in false environments like zoological habitats, museum dioramas or movie sets. I found myself looking a lot at 18th and 19th century landscape painting, which quite often contain elements of disaster, and also at old glass matte paintings used as backgrounds in cinematography. Somewhere in that mix the idea to incorporate crashes and wreckage into the images emerged.
There is something in the level of aspiration in flying or crossing oceans that I felt was suitable to the environments I was looking at. And of course nature tends to be pretty indifferent to those aspirations and with that in mind I wouldn't necessarily say the vehicles are the subject of these paintings. They are landscapes that happen to contain them.
Wateridge’s paint handling has a deftness and confidence verging on bravado - more Velasquez than Vermeer. The style of painting would perhaps be anachronistic if it were on canvas but the theatricality of the support and process allows other themes and references to resonate. The constructed nature of the paintings is never denied but ultimately becomes secondary to the experience of the image as a whole, the integrity of the paint allows one to buy into the illusion.
Private view Thursday 5 October 6.30-8.30pm
David Risley Gallery, 45 Vyner Street, London, E2 9DQ