LAUNCH LA is proud to present Travels / North West by Tanja Rector. Continuing on the themes of her 2013 exhibition Travels, Rector returns with a new body of landscape paintings inspired by America’s scenic splendor and rendered in her unmistakably warm yet sparse style. While the first exhibition focused on her journeys through the arid South West, her latest month-long journey brought Rector and her traveling companion to the forests, lakes and dunes of the North West – introducing a new set of textures, colors and emotional resonances to her work.
From her starting point among the redwoods of North of San Francisco and along the shores of Crater Lake, Rector recounts her progress: “We drove up the coast through the dunes of Oregon towards the tree-covered rocks appearing out of the stormy waves off the coast of the Olympic National Forest…ending up in the high desert surrounded by the snow-covered mountains in Yakima.” Rector is a kindred spirit of the earlier generations of American painters who sought to capture the wild grandeur of the American West. Much like the works of Albert Bierstadt and his 19th century Luminist peers, Rector’s works feed off moments in which the interplay between light and land becomes surreal, setting colors glowing and shadows deepening in rocky crevasses. Rector’s style however is far more primal than the works of her predecessors, distilling notable features into scenes that hover between even expanses of two dimensional space and shapes which pop out of the canvas as if viewed through 3D glasses.
At every turn in Rector’s journey, the vistas she encountered demanded that paint be set to canvas: “I was inspired by the bounty of shades of greens of the rain forest, the juxtaposition of the red rocks and blue lakes in the landscapes of Crater Lake, and the evidence of the drought seen in the low lakes and dried up river beds all over.” Each of her colors are laden with an almost electric charge of emotion – the greens are full of vibrancy, the blues mirroring the purity of the mountain-born waters and her ubiquitous pinks carry an overwhelming sense of tranquillity. Not all of her works however are subdued: the huge sand storms, dust clouds and hail storms that Rector witnessed on her travels inject drama and energy into some of her scenes. The landscapes around her fuelled her imagination, conjuring surrealistic visions of “volcanic rocks exploding out of majestic snow covered mountains” – visions that she painted and dutifully added to the collection.
Travels/North West exposes a strange contradiction between the seeming timelessness of the scenery around us and the reality of a complex, ever developing cycle of destruction and creation – of weathering, erosion and the creation of new rocks, forest fires, storms, decay and the emergence of new plant-life. Without actively seeking to, Rector’s works seem to indicate that mankind’s actions also have the power to alter our planet, for better or for worse.
Like the glaciers that depressed the land beneath them and the volcanic upheaval that gave us Crater Lake, the land will long bear the marks of human occupation.
Tanja Rector was born in 1966, in Amsterdam, Holland. She has exhibited widely in solo and groups shows across California, Texas, New Mexico, New York and Frankfurt, Germany. Her work has also been featured in numerous publications, including The LA Times, Beau Monde Magazine, Viva Magazine and LA Weekly.
The paintings for this show are based on a month long road trip starting in the redwoods north of San Francisco and Crater Lake. We drove up the coast through the dunes of Oregon towards the tree covered rocks appearing from the stormy waves of the coast of the Olympic National Forrest. Ending up in the high desert surrounded by the snow covered mountains in Yakima.
I was inspired of the bounty of shades of greens of the rain forest, the juxtaposition of the the red rocks and blue lakes in the landscapes of crater lake, and the evidence of the drought seen in the low lakes and dried up river beds all over. I came across big sand storms, hail and dust clouds that made dramatic images to explore. imagining surreal images of volcanic rocks exploding out of these majestic snow covered mountains.