Gruis [gravel] (2015)

Klara-Marié den Heijer

Oil on board, 15 cm x 24 cm

As an oil painter I am interested in the convention of landscape painting and the sense of nostalgia, unheimlich and of the sublime that it can evoke. The genre of landscape paintings often relates to questions of ownership or - in the context of my work – feelings of belonging. Landscape hints at our yearning to be a part of the world, while simultaneously revealing a desire to be different and to stand apart from the world. Landscape painting is an act of reflection that both separates our sense of self from our sense of the world, and affirms the deep bond we have with the world around us.The ability to perceive and imagine the world evokes feelings of separation and distance from the world. This alienation sets the mood for a sense of longing. We long for that which is not immediately present to the senses. Longing can drive us to escape to the imaginary, pursue an ideal or attempt the alternative. This strong desire can fluctuate between craving the familiar and the unfamiliar. Nostalgia is a longing to return to a former time or space. It circumscribes the security of what is known and familiar. When something seems familiar, but upon closer inspection appears to be strange, it is described as unheimlich (uncanny). The Unheimliche is the distress caused by the mysterious and touches on the human need to relate, to belong or to know. The sublime is a yearning for the unfamiliar, the unattainable and therefore the impossible. It dreams of a distance so vast that it cannot be crossed. Landscape paintings have long been associated with the themes and conventions of the nostalgic, the uncanny and the sublime. I look at hints and traces of these sensations as projected in the presentation and representations of landscape paintings. For me the nostalgic is objectified in the fixed sensation of rocks as solid substances, the uncanny is linked to the reflective appearance of water as a liquid, and the sublime is symbolised by the transient and ephemeral perception of air.
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