Curt Hanson 1949-2017
Back in the early 70’s I came across an essay and catalogue by Robert Herbert which accompanied an exhibition called Barbizon Revisited. I never saw the show and the reproductions in the little book where not very good but it caught my interest. It led to a growing interest in what is called the Barbizon School and what later became referred to as tonalist painting here in America. This basically set the course of my life work over the past 45 years. There is something about the somber quite mood of the tonalist landscape that has never left me even though impressionism and open air painting has had its affect on my development. Now, most of the work is done in the studio, beginning with a wash of thin transparent layers of tone and then a process of layering and scumbling and adding heavier paint if it is called for. It is not so much based on what is actually seen as I was doing when I was younger as it is a visual poem that may have reference to a particular view. The decisions about what goes in, what is left out or when to leave off, comes more from the painting itself and not from the fleeting conditions of working directly from nature. This is not to say that fine work can not be done painting directly from nature but there comes a point when it is time to step back and let the painting speak on its own terms.The purpose of the work is to convey a certain feeling. That feeling in this case is a quite mood. A reflective mood. Sometime melancholy but with a sense of peace about it. That is what I took away from those tonalist paintings many years ago and caused an investigation to a deeper place than only appearances.
October 16, 2012