Through her work, Cecilia Danell explores ideas about wilderness and solitude and how the yearning for an authentic life may be no more than a construct. This new body of work exhibited in the RHA Ashford Gallery, is based on walks in the area surrounding her family farm in Sweden, where the experience of being in the landscape influences the paintings beyond the photographic source material.
Danell details each walk through maps, photographs and notes in her journal but when in the studio, the quality of oil paint and the hands-on process of making become as important to her as the initial source material. Danell’s paintings suggest that there is a longing to return to a more primal state; to wrap oneself in a place and become a part of it.
For this exhibition Danell will show a series of paintings, alongside constructed fabric pieces suggesting tree bark and natural surfaces, something to enter into and wrap oneself in, to satiate a longing to become part of a place. Yet, Danell’s work always draws the viewer back to the fact that what she’s presenting is a construct. The painted landscape is melting; ocular glitches of unnatural colour present themselves as part of the scenery. The objects are imitations of something real, falling short of true semblance.
In a Landscapetakes its title from the John Cage composition of the same name. The composition has no climax and the landscape that Danell depicts is similarly quiet. This is a landscape that is flat, where there is no tourism, no heroic peaks. Only a still inland landscape of beaver damaged trees, irrigation ditches, fields and managed forestry. She walks and traces an environment that she knows intimately, happening upon decaying remnants of human activity, further upending the romantic notion of nature as untended wilderness. Using the landscape as a metaphor for the human condition, Danell shies away from nostalgia, while solemnly recognising how people and places change overtime while remaining superficially the same.
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