GRAHAM SUTHERLAND AN UNFINISHED WORLD

Curated by George Shaw

This winter, Modern Art Oxford presents a collection of works on paper by British artist, Graham Sutherland. Curated by 2011 Turner Prize nominee, George Shaw, An Unfinished World is a reflective exploration of the lesser-known work of one of the most compelling artists of his generation.

The exhibition concentrates on Sutherland's early Welsh landscapes from the 1930s, works created during his time as official WWII war artist, and after his return to Pembrokeshire in the 1970s.

Far from traditional studies of landscape and environment, these works not only depict but also exude a world that is as dark as it is magical, as elusive as it is recognisable. Strangely bereft of human life, the works navigate the real and imagined; where country lanes loop into each other, horizon lines fold into foregrounds, and nothing is as it seems.

George Shaw presents these works through the lens of a contemporary painter, describing them as 'a lament to the passing and changing landscape, a monument to the earth itself'. He adds, 'the exhibition shows us Sutherland as an artist as much rooted in the past as in the world before him - a world forever unfinished'.

An Unfinished World brings together for the first time over eighty rarely seen works on paper from public and private collections across the UK.

An Unfinished World - the publication to accompany the exhibition includes an introduction by Michael Stanley and texts by George Shaw, Brian Catling, Rachel Flynn and Alexandra Harris.

www.modernartoxford.org.uk

  • Contemporary

    Existing or coming into being at the same period; of today or of the present. The term that designates art being made today.

  • Landscape

    Landscape is one of the principle genres of Western art. In early paintings the landscape was a backdrop for the composition, but in the late 17th Century the appreciation of nature for its own sake began with the French and Dutch painters (from whom the term derived). Their treatment of the landscape differed: the French tried to evoke the classical landscape of ancient Greece and Rome in a highly stylised and artificial manner; the Dutch tried to paint the surrounding fields, woods and plains in a more realistic way. As a genre, landscape grew increasing popular, and by the 19th Century had moved away from a classical rendition to a more realistic view of the natural world. Two of the greatest British landscape artists of that time were John Constable and JMW Turner, whose works can be seen in the Tate collection (www.tate.org.uk). There can be no doubt that the evolution of landscape painting played a decisive role in the development of Modernism, culminating in the work of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists . Since then its demise has often been predicted and with the rise of abstraction, landscape painting was thought to have degenerated into an amateur pursuit. However, landscape persisted in some form into high abstraction, and has been a recurrent a theme in most of the significant tendencies of the 20th Century. Now manifest in many media, landscape no longer addresses solely the depiction of topography, but encompasses issues of social, environmental and political concern.

Past venue

  • UK, Oxford, Modern Art Oxford
    • 10 December 2011 − 18 March 2011
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