Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Philip Govedare, Excavation #6

Philip Govedare, Excavation #6, 2010
66 x 59 in.

Philip Govedare (b.1954) is a contemporary painter from California.  Some of his earlier work resembles a pure abstraction that has been popular for decades, but in recent years he has focused entirely on unusual landscapes like Excavation #6.  Govedare's goal is to show the complex interactions of human activity and nature.  His firs requirement of a subject is that it be "visually compelling," but he also seeks to paint scenes that are marked by human activity.  His intention is not simply to show environmental degradation, although it of course plays a significant part, but to show the ways that the environmental conditions of a landscape alter its meaning. Ultimately his work depicts the fragility of the natural world and the effect we have on it, but nevertheless portraying the beauty of the landscape, both in spite of, and as a result of environmental damage.  The swirling colors and hazy shapes of Excavation #6 make quite an impression.  The twisting shapes at the fore of the painting suggest oil on water, but that appearance quickly gives way to one of mountains and clouds as we move further back in the picture plane.  The intense purple color that dominates the painting adds to that impression.  The bright colors that pervade the canvas, then, suggest the air pollution that brightens a sunset. While this particular association might not be made without Govedare's artist statement, it is clear that there is something unnatural in this scene.  Some of Govedare's scenes are more easily identifiable, but the vague shapes and scenery of this painting, which also suggest a crater of impact, make the piece extremely engaging and effective.

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