curated by Kitty Scott
The exhibition pleinairism is, with some exception, a selection of work on paper by artists, most of whom are rarely associated with plein air activity. Working plein air has a long history and first became popular among landscape painters in seventeenth-century Rome, while it was the very foundation of modern landscape art during the nineteenth century.
Surprisingly many contemporary artists continue to adopt this approach, perhaps because it offers a kind of immediacy, and freedom from the concerns of their primary practice.
What does the concept of plein air mean to artists at this moment? The water-colours, collages, paintings, texts, videos, drawings and photographs on display attest to a broad range of strategies: while some artists are intent on directly representing the world they inhabit, others seek to reinvent what plein air means in a contemporary context.
Much of work in the exhibition was made outdoors using natural light, and in response to the sun’s position, the surrounding scene, weather conditions—bound by a time contract as light changes and fades to darkness. Other artists are exploring how a plein air approach comes up against the more complex image making technologies available to us today. Still other artists allude to a natural world that is on the verge of disappearing.