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The adrenaline junkie

PorthlevenPeter Lanyon is a British landscape artist I have always admired, but unfortunately his life was cut short in1964 after a gliding accident. His gliding adventures became the main subject of his painting, exploring landscape from high viewpoints painting the ‘experience of gliding’ by capturing land, sea, sky and weather within his works. This made for very interesting works as his subject matter was forever changing.
One of my favourite paintings of Lanyon’s is Porthleven, it is difficult to relate spatially to the painting as it is painted from above, but Lanyon has experimented with space and viewpoint, so it makes it difficult to make sense of what is the foreground and background. This painting towers eight feet high so engulfs the viewer with its sheer size and expressive painterly brush strokes. The muted greens and greys make the land and sky blend seamlessly into one another, while the blue hints at the harbour, which stands along at the bottom of this colossal painting.
Find out more about Lanyon’s work here.
Which landscape artists do you admire, and what influences their work?
Image: Peter Lanyon, Porthleven, 1951 (oil on masonite)

Posted by author: Leanne Putt
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5 thoughts on “The adrenaline junkie

  • I love his work too. I think there was a tv programme about him in the past couple of years. I think some of Remy Mackintosh’s landscapes are lovely as are Graham Sutherland’s Welsh Valleys. And Joan Eardley’s coastal scares.

  • Hi Cathie
    I have just had a look at Joan’s work and the colour pallet and impasto paint reminds me of Anselm Kiefer’s paintings. They are very moving landscapes, thank you for sharing.

    • I was blown away by Kiefer’s work. Eardley’s work has some of his impasto, yes, she was a very out of doors painter, sadly didn’t live too long. If you go to Modern art 2 in Edinburgh you can have a cup of coffee and look at her painting just by your table. Quite a privilege.

  • It was a surprise and pleasure to log into the blog and see a reproduction of Porthleven, an old friend from Tate Britain. I agree about the interest of Lanyon’s work, his drawings as well as his paintings. If I recall correctly, Porthleven’s not entirely easy to read structure partly reflects his practice of constructing 3D models as a means of deepening his understanding the place he was interested in (a strategy he adopted as a result of knowing Naum Gabo and his work). He painted this before his glider pilot days, and with an historical as much as spatial sensibility (you could say he was trying to ‘get inside’ more than ‘overview’ Porthleven). He was the Local Boy who took his Cornish roots seriously. And he was a rather intense character, to be sure.
    I can’t share the enthusiasm for Kiefer, nor see its relationship (if that is what is being implied) to Lanyon’s work. You may say that they are both rhetorical artists but in very different ways, to utterly different ends.
    Joan Eardley’s works I know only in reproduction – which is enough to see why they are admired. An approximate equivalent, working in Wales nowadays, would be David Tress, who makes interesting use of paper as an integral element of his landscapes, which are bravura in their ‘attack’ and can also seem semi-abstract. However they seem at first sight, they are, I feel, very sensitive to the light and weather of the Welsh mountains and coast. Google images may be a place to see some reproductions, and the Museum of Modern Art, MOMA Machynlleth, owns at least one of his works. Try their website. The National Library in Aberystwyth has at least one too, but that is harder to see.
    Landscape artists to admire – how far back in time should we go? That’s too much. But, among contemporaries of large status, how about the Scot, Peter Doig? Now, he and Lanyon would be very odd companions, and interesting in entirely different ways.

  • Thank you for this Paul.
    Peter Doig is an interesting one I am a fan of his etchings.
    Sorry, I wasn’t implying that there was a relationship between Lanyon and Kiefer’s work, but I do think there are similarities between Kiefer and Eardley’s work who Cathie mentions. In particular Eardley’s Seeded Grasses and Daisies, September and Kiefer’s Margarete.

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