Friday, March 01, 2019

Painting Georgia O’Keeffe Country

Three of the paintings in Lydia Bauman, Looking for Georgia - Painting Georgia O’Keeffe Country
- the central view is of the Ghost Ranch landscape

Yesterday morning I saw one of the most impressive solo exhibitions in the Mall Galleries that I've seen to date. It has large and small landscapes which are visually stunning, has a big theme and a story behind it and the painting is splendid.

I wish more people were inspired by an exhibition about an artist and take themselves off to find the countryside where a painter painted and then find the places and spaces and paint them again.

I guess one of the reasons it appeals to me is that I'm an inveterate seeker out of places where people painted. I guess it's something that either appeals to you or it doesn't. For me I learn something about the painter by being able to see what they see - although it doesn't always work out. Trees have a habit of growing in front of views as I found out on my Van Gogh trail in Provence!  However back to the exhibition....

Lydia Bauman, Looking for Georgia - Painting Georgia O’Keeffe Country

The feature wall - The Road to Mesa Pedenal Triptych

Lydia Bauman, Looking for Georgia - Painting Georgia O’Keeffe Country is on until Saturday 2nd March 2019 at the Mall Galleries.

I highly recommend a viewing if you can get there - it's very impressive. Indeed it is by far the most impressive exhibition of landscape painting that I've seen in the Mall Galleries after many years of visiting.  The big Main Gallery can overwhelm wimpy painting and needs bold painting to draw you down the stairs. Bauman's larger paintings 'read' well from 100 feet away and get better as you get closer!

This is a woman who really knows how to paint big landscapes in an appropriate way - and how to use mixed media to give a 'grounded' and spiritual sense of the landscape.  Her colour palette is slightly exaggerated and yet remains true to the place. Her tonal values are spot on so that all the zones in terms of distances and changes in landscape read really well - despite the fact that for many people the New Mexico landscape will be something they've never experienced.

The road to iconic landscapes of O'Keeffe Country

The story of how the exhibition came about

The story is that Lydia Bauman visited the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition at Tate Modern two years ago. Having visited the exhibition, like me, Lydia found O'Keeffe's paintings of landscapes to be extremely stimulating and wanted to find the places in northern New Mexico where she had painted and to reinterpret the landscapes in her own style.
In late 2016 I stood amongst her colourful paintings of New Mexico desert at the exhibition “Georgia O'Keeffe” in London's Tate Modern and I asked myself:
to what extent did her paintings represent the true character of that landscape?
It was perhaps inevitable for me to eventually travel to the country Georgia O’Keeffe called“my backyard” to check it out for myself.
  • What would it be like to find myself in a landscape so thoroughly appropriated by another, much celebrated artist ?
  • What did O’Keeffe respond to, what did she leave out?
  • How would our different methods serve the character of the land?
  • How important is it to know a place well in order to paint it well?
Having viewed her website I can see why this sort of project would appeal. She's obviously worked on projects in specific places in the past. Her style is to paint large landscape paintings with huge vistas - plus zones and layers very obviously appeal to her - as they do to me.

Then we get the difference. Whereas a visit to northern New Mexico is still on my bucket list, she made plans and visited!

In 2017 she travelled with her son to 'Georgia O’Keeffe Country' - which is the area around Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu in the Northern New Mexico desert which O’Keeffe referred to as her 'backyard' - to re-interpret the landscapes made familiar to some of us by O'Keeffe's own paintings.

She made lots of studies and sketches and then came home and worked up her paintings

New Mexico Panorama Studies 21cm x 29cm - mixed media and resin
Ghost Ranch Studies (80cm x 100cm) and a sketchbook
These don't have the textural treatment of the more finished works - but show how she starts
New Mexico Monochromes - mixed media with shellac and graphite powder
She also had a kickstarter to get the exhibition funded (which has 111 backers) so she could get the paintings completed after her return and have an exhibition at the end of it and produce a book to explain and record the project. It launched in July 2018 and was fully funded by the end of the month. You can read her updates about the project on her kickstarter site

This interview Lydia Bauman: Looking for Georgia O'Keeffe on the Jackson's Art blog gives an insight into why she paints and why.

If anybody wants to know what an exhibition ought to look like after you've decided on a big theme for your work and then developed it over time - they should go take a look at this - and how she funded the exhibition.

If you like landscape painting and/or Georgia O'Keeffe you have two days left to just look at the paintings.

Paintings of The Pedenal and Chasa Rover - two iconic O'Keeffe motifs
The exhibition also includes an exhibition by her son of photographs he took while she was there.

You can also see videos of the project and the exhibition process on her Facebook Page

About Lydia Bauman

I am both a landscape painter and an art historian fascinated by the phenomenon of this iconic American artist and her idiosyncratic interpretations of the landscape of New Mexico. 
I've been a painter of wilderness for many years. I interpret it in a complex mixed media technique involving combining pigments with plaster, resin, wax and other unconventional materials to create textured surfaces evocative of the look and feel of the landscapes I observe around the world.
  • Divides her time between studio work as painter and art history lecturer. 
  • Has had some 30 + solo exhibitions in London, Warsaw, USA, Jeddah 
  • Represented by the Rebecca Hossack Gallery London, Catto Gallery London, Primavera Gallery Cambridge and others. 
  • Landscape painting projects with galleries and corporate sponsorships ( Burlington Resources UK) have taken her to India, Israel, Morocco, Australia and the British Isles. 
  • Her artwork is in the collections of corporate clients such as Saatchi and Saatchi, United Airlines, Linklaters, Deutsche Bank, Amec international, State Street Bank, Warner Bros, the Dorchester and Gordon Ramsey Holdings. 
  • Additional trips as guest speaker for cultural tours and cruises with NADFAS, Martin Randall Tours, Noble Caledonia, have taken her throughout Europe and New Zealand providing further inspiration for my art.

About Georgia O'Keeffe

My site about Georgia O'Keeffe is in limbo at the moment. Part will be resurrected in the section about landscape artists on my new Tips for Artists website.

In the meantime see my past blog posts (on other blogs) about O'Keeffe's paintings of Northern New Mexico

and my posts at the time about the exhibition

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