‘SOARING FLIGHT’ Peter Lanyon’s gliding paintings
Courtauld Gallery Jan 2016
An experience not to be missed!
It was really interesting to stand in front of these amazing paintings and to feel that you were being taken on an experience. Lanyon’s ability to translate his experience of gliding into painted landscapes is extraordinary. I didn’t feel to be just looking at paintings – I could feel the power and intensity of his emotional response to this activity and this leapt out of the frame for me and drew me in! It seems to be summed up in the Introduction to the catalogue where Ernst Vegelin Van Claerbergen, the Head of the Courtauld Gallery, writes what was said of Pieter Bruegel the Elder ‘that when he travelled through the Alps, he swallowed the mountains and rocks and spat them out on his panels, so remarkable was his ability to convey nature.’ I agree with this link with Peter Lanyon.
Peter Lanyon is recognised as a leading landscape painter in post war Britain. He was able to take landscape painting to a new dimension, not just reproduce the scenes in front of his eyes but to experience the landscape, in other words to ‘inhabit the landscape as fully as possible’. (Catalogue page 11) To this end he took up gliding and the paintings in this exhibition are about these gliding experiences.
What was also interesting for me was that his passion for the environment led his to make connections with the human condition and in many of the paintings the viewer was taken deeper into the image to discover these connections for himself.
I’m very interested in exploring this idea of conveying experience through paint rather than reproducing an image, in my own work. I can feel the same measure of personal involvement and love of the environment in the work of Kurt Jackson.