home about philosophy contact gallery

Philosophy

LYNETTE HEMMANT is one of the decreasing number of artists who generally work en plein air, i.e. outside, behind the easel, from life. A bit of fiddling may happen later, in the studio, but the intention is to try to synthesize a place, a subject, in natural light. This means that the window of time during which a painting can be worked on is limited, resulting in a rolling programme of paintings to be worked on, involving a constant battle with changing weather and light.

There are artists who work very quickly, especially in watercolours, who can produce good (sometimes superficial!) results in a few hours or less. But there is an argument in favour of a more considered approach, taking time to find the 'sense' of the place and the subject, sometimes finding that the better painting is in the peripheral vision, less 'obvious'. The relationships between the traditional landscape subjects, trees, land, sky and water are very complex, even more so are the many layers of a garden.

Monet knew this, and by painting the same subject many times, he explained his relationship with what he saw in a way that has nothing to do with the photographic.

Much has been written about the camera having removed the need for traditional and/or realistic painting. The photographic image being available to everybody, it is therefore devalued except in 'art photography'. Good painting, however, has very little to do with photography. The eye sees far more than the camera; the colours are infinitely more subtle and the perspective is different. The textures and the 'feel' have a physicality, which is not available in the printed image.

Any artist who continues to work within the old tradition can become slightly paranoid. The Art World says that 'Art' is something else, and that to be concerned with the interpretation of natural forms, and through that interpretation seek mystery and beauty (always subjective, of course) is irrelevant and pointless.

The prevailing power group is always conservative and essentially restrictive. Today is not different; it sees itself as 'cutting edge' (an expression which is already a little dated, but the attitudes are just as fossilized as any previous establishment, and the sameness of what is 'permitted' is pervasive. The more Art tends towards minimalism, with the accompanying dislike and distrust of skill, the more space is left for the critic as interpreter. The image is then in danger of becoming secondary to its accompanying texts. The critic has space to exercise his/her creative capacities, and since good critics write well, this can be a creative partnership.

But if the visual arts are allowed to be primarily about images, which at their best will move the viewer emotionally, then the image which requires a long explanatory text could be seen to be more about literature than what we have hitherto called Art.

There are an infinite number of books on the history of art and on modern artists, and this is no place to try to develop those arguments. However, this work is not historicist; it is modern painting using modern materials; traditional subjects painted with a contemporary eye.

When it’s too cold or wet to paint outside, work continues in the studio. Still life, drawings, sometimes (mistakenly!) trying to improve summer paintings which haven’t made the grade. It’s also a time for working on imaginary pieces, which evolve over months, sometimes years.

This dialogue with nature has existed for hundreds of years. Lynette Hemmant believes in its value and hopes that there will always be artists with enough self confidence to leave the herd and continue this tradition.