The Sky Underfoot

21 May - 13 September, 2015

Galerie Klüser 2

Voglio vedere le mie montagne (I would like to see my mountains)

This was the final wish of Giovanni Segantini, greater painter of the alpine world, voiced in a mountain hut on the Schafberg in the Engadin Valley as he parted from life in 1889. The sublime nature of the mountains, whose peaks were accessible only with huge difficulty or not at all in former times, and the sense of their closeness to heaven led in almost all the world’s cultures and religions to the idea of “holy” mountains – a tradition that continues even to the present day.
For Francesco Petrarca, a poet and the first important humanist, climbing Mont Ventoux in the 14th century was an essential spiritual experience. Leonardo da Vinci sketched mountain landscapes and rocks, Dürer also captured his impressions of a journey across the Alps. After the Enlightenment, during the 19th century, mountains became a leading motif and finally escaped their former function as illustrative backgrounds in fine art: Caspar David Friedrich painted the Watzmann, Paul Cézanne painted the Saint Victoire mountain range over and over again, Ferdinand Hodler and Segantini developed their unmistakable visual languages capturing the Swiss mountain landscape. Last but not least, Joseph Beuys gave the title “Voglio vedere le mie montagne” (1971) to his important environment in Eindhoven Museum.Jonathan Bragdon joins this tradition with his panorama drawings of the mountains of the Swiss canton Wallis. He has frequently spent several weeks in the village of Bex above the Rhone Valley, setting out into the countryside with paper, pencils and drawing board to capture the sublime, overwhelming presence of nature in situ. The objective view and its subjective perception move closer together, concentrated and transformed, are made transparent. The spatial hierarchies of the mountains remain visible, but in Bragdon’s work they are often supplemented by an important element of movement and time: the often monumental cloud formations change constantly, appearing immaterial in consistency, yet present as an elementary force just as the permanently static character of the mountains.
Evidence that drawings can resemble poems is also provided by the “Consciousness Drawings”, a group of works showing abstract notations which reveal the artist’s inner world to the outside, finding a form of expression beyond the horizon of language.
“Painting is silent poetry and poetry is painting with the gift of speech”, as Simonides already commented. Looking at these drawings by Jonathan Bragdon, one is compelled to agree with him.

Selected Works

Bragdon, drawing, work on paper

About the artist

Jonathan Bragdon was born in 1944 in Delaware, USA. Since 1979 he has been living in Amsterdam. After his studies in art therapy in Lausanne and the big success of his first solo exhibition in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he decided in 1967 to devote himself entirely to his creative work. The majority of his artworks can be located in the tradition of landscape drawing. Precise delicate or dotted lines and various hatchings characterise Bragdon’s impressive landscape portraits. With the series “Consciousness Drawings” Bragdon is extending his oeuvre and turning to nonrepresentational art in the form of abstract dynamic drawings. His work is included in several national and international collections, for instance the Stedeljik Museum in Amsterdam.

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