Contemporary Trends in Landscape Art

At the obvious level, ‘contemporary’ simply describes anything produced in this period, so by definition, anything I paint now has to be contemporary!
Yeah, but ….. it seems to be impossible to comment on art without diving backwards over the trends - all those ‘isms’, impressionism, fauvism, cubism, surrealism, then - abstract, modern and pop art. ‘Contemporary’ was nabbed to describe what came after that - ‘postmodern’ was probably too pretentious, and certainly the stuff that has excited (and is still exciting) the art world in this phase is anything but pretentious - it is all about innovation. Installation pieces made of huge chunks of wood, billowing fabrics covering the real world, permanent sculptures covering acres of earth. (And, for the record, I admire much of that work - it is genuinely exciting to experience.)
There is an irony here - just as the impressionist rebels couldn’t break in to the closed world of the art establishment as their work didn’t conform to the accepted traditions, it is difficult for a painter today to have their work accepted if it is a straightforward view!

“Chocolate Box” is a huge insult thrown at such work - so this era of  all-embracing anything goes actually excludes paintings of the kind that might have been hailed in bygone times.
I suppose there is a rationale for this, in that it is relatively easy to go out, find an interesting view and paint it, and there are thousands of us who do just that and millions of such pictures as a result.
As a bit of a pedant, I could argue that actually what excites the art world is avant-garde. Work that is not the same as what has gone before and is ahead of the crowd.
Just to digress into the parallel art universe of music - think about Beethoven. Today his music is rightly hailed as classical, people flock to concerts to hear it played and derive enormous pleasure when they do so.
When he composed, nothing like it existed before - it was avant-garde. Audiences gasped as they had never heard anything like it.
Monet, Munch, Braque, Kandinsky, Mondrian, Picasso, Pollock, Warhol, Lichtenstein ……. the list is long, but all these took the risk of painting in styles that were unlike anything anyone had seen before.
When Beethoven performed his work for the first time, his audience had only ever heard music in limited forms - it had to be live, often in a Church, and only on a few instruments.
Today’s audience has access to infinite varieties of sounds, playing directly in their ears. That same contemporary audience has probably seen images of pictures - the Mona Lisa, or has grown up with fading posters of Monet on granny’s wall. So the contemporary ear will want to hear something new, and the contemporary eye will want to see something that is more than ‘pleasant’.

Of course there is always an audience for the traditional - whole radio stations are dedicated to music of previously popular styles, many walls are decorated with nice views, or prints of once-famous paintings.

Not everybody likes or wants ‘edgy’, there is a clear market for nicely presented paintings of familiar views.

But - in Business School marketing courses, ‘differentiation’ is a  vast topic - why do people choose this car rather than that one? - Because it has some attributes which makes it appeal to the buyer that are different from all the rest.
I will never forget one of my first visits to an Open Art exhibition where hundreds of paintings were displayed, the winners of an open competition, each one carefully selected from thousands of entrants.

They were certainly well-painted, full marks on technical quality.
But I was bored, and  having completed the circuit, wandered off to an adjacent museum gallery. While the works there were nothing close to being exciting, they were at least interesting. Many told a story, or contained meanings, or presented the viewer with a challenge - there was more to admire than the mere quality of the brushwork.

So - that is my aim. Create paintings which will hold your attention, give you pleasure (a feast for the eye) and maybe make you wonder….

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