In our latest Artist Profile, Curator Brian Cass, Head of Exhibitions at Towner Art Gallery, focuses on the work of Carol Rhodes.
Carol Rhodes is a Glasgow-based painter whose work often depicts oblique landscapes, detached views of non-places as if seen from a low-flying aircraft. Drawing on an eclectic range of aerial photographs and other sources, she combines fragments to create composite fictional topographies which are just distant enough to deny us insight into the land below.
Rhodes predominantly paints her landscapes on small boards rendered with great precision and restraint on gesso grounds in a distinctive palette of pale, washed-out pinks, muted clay colours, watery greys and lemon yellows. Their aerial viewpoints have their roots in techniques of surveillance first developed through battlefield photography. But the paintings also evoke more ancient points of view: Renaissance townscapes, early Netherlandish pictures to Indian miniatures. But the distanced view, the unpopulated vacancy and the repressed colour creates a unique mysterious aura.
Industrial Landscape, 1997, is an exemplary work in which the uncanny and familiar fuse together to celebrate the skeletal anatomy of landscape. An industrial scene would normally be bustling with activity, yet in this view there are no people, cars, or movement. It is curiously stilled and deserted. The connected paths, the empty washed out green areas and the overlap of lines create a multi-layer landscape that is only finally intelligible and clear from the sky above. This painting is currently exhibited as a part of Towner Gallery’s National Partners exhibition At Altitude which looks at the historical impact and the continuing appeal of the aerial image.
At Altitude runs from 2 June until 30 September 2018 at Towner Art Gallery.
Head of Exhibitions Towner