Aerial Images: Artificial Horizons

Artist's statement

 

Landscape has a long tradition as a standard subject of painters. A recent driving excursion through Normandy on the French coast renewed my own interest in painting the landscape since my earlier examples of airfields. This in a country famous for the landscape paintings of the Impressionists as well as others, including members of the Barbizon School south of Paris who sometimes also worked in Normandy. The rural French landscape of small towns and the surrounding cultivated fields gave a sense of the familiar from my own experience of growing up on a farm in Wisconsin. There was also the unfamiliar mystery of a land marked with the violent history of World War II battles. The combination of the pastoral and the tragic interested me. Through the interpretation of landscape imagery found in the grainy backgrounds of aerial gun camera film I found a means of bringing together the pastoral and tragic. Such photos, taken from aircraft, often depicted the horizon skewed on a diagonal, which gives a sense of instability. While the landscape in the aircraft film was only an incidental backdrop to the main target, my intention was to recompose the inadvertent image into the primary focus of the paintings. The background of the aircraft film is similar to that which we see indistinctly at the periphery of our vision. The half-seen views slide past us without a full description, leaving a space for partial memory and imagination.

 

Bruce McClain

Ridgewell. 1990, oil on canvas, 30x36"
Debden III. 1990, oil on canvas, 30x40"
Debden V. 2005, oil on canvas, 30x42"
Train Smoke I. 2005, oil on canvas, 24x30"
Train Smoke II. 2005, oil on canvas, 24x30"
Field Layers. 2005, oil on canvas, 42x34"
Mountain Train. 2005, oil on linen, 24x42"
Refinery. 2005, oil on linen, 34x42"
Side Road Train. 2005, oil on canvas, 30x28"
Moon Train. 2005, oil on linen, 30x42"
Farm House. 2005, oil on canvas, 24x36"
Intersection. 2005, oil on canvas, 30x30"
Fields Bay. 2005, oil on linen, 42x32"
Road House. 2005, oil on canvas, 24x32"
Field Trails. 2005, oil on canvas, 30x40"
Train Curve. 2005, oil on canvas, 24x42"
Blue Village. 2006, acylic on canvas, 72x48"
Village I. 2006, acrylic on canvas, 48x54"
Village II. 2006, acrylic on canvas, 48x60"
Parallel Tracks. 2006, acrylic on canvas, 72x54"
Houses. 2006, acrylic on canvas, 46x60"