THE WORD “landscape” makes most people think one of several things: a panoramic view of a city skyline or a mountain range; a dreamy Romantic painting; one’s own front yard and the lawn that needs mowed. Concrete and expansive, landscapes typically offer the viewer something distant and real—a sight to be taken in from afar. But the Triton Museum’s latest exhibit, “A Transcendent Land—Non-Traditional Landscapes,” offers another “view.”
The show features a collection of works by five very distinct artists encompassing a range of mediums, all while challenging the familiar notion of landscape. SJSU lecturer Brenda Jamrus’ prints, for example, seem to capture traditional images of different scenes from Versailles, but upon closer inspection, something feels off. What appears at first to be a simple panoramic photograph is actually several mirror images of one smaller photograph, made to hinge on a distant focal point. One such print, Orangerie, Versailles, is beautiful in its swirling geometry, its grand and picturesque rendering of the palace grounds, but also equally eerie in its fun-house repetition and perfect symmetry.
Barbara Gunther departs even more radically from the expectations of landscape. Her Red Plum is a canvas of deep, velvety purple, mottled with spots of robin’s-egg blue—the landscape of a plum, made huge and immersive. Gunther challenges us to redefine landscapes as anything that fills our view and transfixes our eyes, whether we are standing on a mountaintop or peering closely at a piece of fruit in the kitchen.
David Ivan Clark takes landscapes to a more metaphysical vantage point. Spacious, saturated with color and with no distinguishing features to identify a particular subject, Clark’s steel canvases could be of any place at any time. Rather than convey what the artist has already seen, his landscapes are concerned with what sorts of new or forgotten visions are evoked in the viewer. At turns industrial and romantic, the effect is to create landscapes of emotion and memory. Like the other works in A Transcendent Land, Clark’s landscapes take us somewhere, even if we cannot exactly say to where.
A Transcendent Land
Runs through July 20
The Triton Museum, Santa Clara