Longing for nature
For the June issue of Twin Cities Luxury and Fashion magazine, I wrote about local artist Gregory Euclide who does beautiful relief paintings. Story’s below.
Longing for nature
Gregory Euclide’s romantic relief paintings examine real and imagined landscapes
By Anna Pratt
Gregory Euclide says his fascination with nature — and the way it has been idealized by artists throughout the ages — form the basis of his landscape relief works.
The three-dimensional pieces, which are characterized by earth tones, are torn and crumpled into odd shapes, to stunning effect. From a distance, some might appear to be a jumbled mess, but closer inspection reveals delicate tree branches, power lines and other details. Some pieces even contain pine needles, bark and other artifacts. (In one work, cigarette butts become hay bales on a field.)
Romantic-looking scenes are painted from memory or transferred from photos, but they don’t necessarily represent specific places. They’re an amalgamation of things. Bathed in a summery golden haze, rural settings are marked by graceful, sweeping lines and alternately, faded drippy streaks. In some areas, thick globs of paint spill over into the folds of paper, resembling rivers and streams.
Previously, Euclide did landscape paintings that played with illusionary space, creating vignettes that receded into the work, to varying degrees. Later, he added another dimension because he wanted to go beyond the flat surface, involving more of the senses. “If the paintings were about experience in nature, then I wanted the experience of viewing them to subtly mimic a walk in the forest,” he explains.
Today, our minds are so filled with images of nature — whether from traditional landscape paintings or travel books — Euclide believes we have lost touch with the real thing. That’s not to say that Euclide claims to be some kind of rugged outdoorsman. He has no desire to hunt or fish. Rather, he describes himself as a sort of wanderer who longs for an authentic experience with nature.
Nature inspires him. When Euclide is surrounded by the elements, he’s struck by how easy it is to feel a sense of dominance over the land, yet inferiority at the same time. For example, “I can tear out trees, break twigs and create a path through a dense patch of forest. I can create a bridge over a deep ravine,” he says. But his capabilities are limited. “I cannot change the direction or path of the river. I cannot remove the mountain or stop things from growing,” he stresses.
Exploring those dynamics and more, Euclide pushes the limits of traditional landscape painting. Despite his preoccupation with nature, one might argue that his true subject is the human condition. Whether the terrain is real or imaginary, viewers are lucky to have him as their guide. For more information, visit http://www.gregoryeuclide.com.