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Comparative Essay: Landscape

STAGE 5: PDM – COMPARATIVE ESSAY (Landscape) Landscape artworks are a significant component in the expression of art, it is a well-established genre used extensively throughout the global art industry. Traditionally the principle subject of a landscape composition was to successfully portray a scenic view realistically, but evidently as observed over time has progressed. As demonstrated in contemporary artworks, cultural influences, technological advances and other aspects have contributed to the development of the landscape genre.
The persisting genre of landscape art has gradually evolved overtime in order to achieve the different objectives of modern artists in the art-world, including a considerable motion towards landscape expressionism over realism. Bill Henson and Fred Williams are examples of artists, whom have extensively explored the landscape theme and possess a considerable understanding of the style, both employ landscape as a source of insight to compose their artworks but there are notable variations between the two artists and how they apply individual techniques.
This contrast can be distinguished in the painting by Williams and the photo captured by Henson. The selected artwork by Williams is a painting, comprised as a piece of a Landscape Series, which is a succession of Australian Landscape depictions. Oil paints stretched on canvas was used to compose the painting, as opposed to Henson’s Type “C” colour photograph. The chosen sample work by Henson though denied a title; is a piece of his Untitled Series [2001-2002]. As recognised in many artworks including Williams’ landscape, oil paints on canvas is a renowned art medium.

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A subtle or progressive blending of colours can be achieved with oil paints by the artist when required, furthering the intensity and vastness of an artwork. Vibrant depths can also be produced by this medium, complimented by natural lustre and distinctive contrast between shade and tone. Whereas Type “C” colour photograph, applied to Henson’s photograph is merely a colour photographic print, lacking digital manipulation. It involves the process of exposing the three different layers to various colours in order to adjust or emphasise the composition of colour.
This process can be achieved both manually and digitally to adjust the colour balance of a print. Two well-established artists, evidently existing in differing art media and with separate artistic intentions, apply differently the processes they use to achieve their purpose. As identified within the artwork by Williams, the paint was thickly and spontaneously applied on the canvas in order to visually represent a natural landscape, which mainly consisted of woodland. Progressive but solid strokes were also used predominantly to compose the artwork, furthering the aspect of abstract within the image produced.
In comparison to Williams’ painting, the photograph captured by Henson is of a traditional process, employing Type “C” colour photograph. Within the artwork there is, though limited, inclusion of artificial components or manipulation of the image to assist his artistic intention. Within the art industry there are many styles and ways to approach the subject matter of an artwork, more generally these include structural and subjective components. The identified landscape sample by Williams is a respectable example of abstract art, encompassing a number of structural elements that cooperate to achieve the main purpose of the artist work.
For example the use of contrasting colours, such as orange and blue in approach of the abstract style, and the use of visual language are applied to create a focused composition. A subjective element including the form of atmosphere and theme imposes a sense of an unconformity, and represents the vastness of the landscape, through exaggeration of the natural features within the artwork. As opposed to Williams’ landscape artwork, the image captured by Henson is considered realism but potentially expressionism.
In consideration of the structural aspects that contribute to the approach to the subject matter, the composition of colours used presents to the audience an intense situation generally circulating the notion of weather. The photograph is an establishing-shot taken of the natural environment, focusing dominantly on the physical elements of nature, aspects such as the light is provided from a natural source that contributes to the instinctive interpretation. Also an oppressive atmosphere is presented by the subjective element; this is also contributed to by the colour and the appearance of weather.
The intentions of an artist are essential in art making, whether it be painting or photography, by applying different art techniques and styles the purpose can be achieved effectively or as how it is intended by the artist. In Williams’ untitled painting it depicts an abstract, Australian landscape, through this Williams intends to reveal or exhibit the vastness of the Australian environment. It informs the audience of Williams’ interpretation of the subject matter, and emphasises on the intensity of the setting through the structure of colours and shades, imposing a fierce atmosphere.
This can also be a representation of Australia’s dry climate, and potentially the fire hazard that Australia constantly exists in. And the trees are an indication of the life that exists in Australia, the use of contrasting colours – in respect to blue and orange – demonstrates this; the composed blue appeasing the rampant orange. Henson’s photograph of a natural environment exposes to the audience an element of weather, more specifically oppressed by the natural element. The use of contrasting colours – generally black and white – allows this to be done effectively, showing more prominently the inconsistency of the weather.
And confided by the clouds a collapse of light exists; similarly to a concept of a ‘silver lining’ in relation to this visual language, that there is a glimpse of hope to escape the oppressive circumstances. As established from Fred Williams’ and Bill Henson’s artworks, it is evident that landscape has been a prominent and recognised genre throughout the art industry. But in accordance to the style and the artist’s intentions such landscapes are illustrated in various ways through different manners and techniques, exposing the vastness of the genre.

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