Headlands: New Paintings
June 30 to August 6, 2005
Opening Reception: Thursday June 30, 7:00 pm
Stephanie Aitken’s series of new, unabashedly beautiful paintings is at once an admiring ode to—and subtle critique of—the Romanticist landscape painting tradition and the idea of the sublime. Comprised of a series of mountains, peaks and vistas, Headlands acts to re-discover the transcendent promise of natural grandeur, not to mention 19th Century painting itself, as a foundation of wonderment, inspiration, mystery and terrifying splendour.
Aitken’s recent work is infused with a fragile tension between the artist’s desire to locate and experience the authentically sublime, without irony, and the melancholic suspicion that such iconographic landscapes—the source of countless tourism pamphlets, postcards and nature books—have largely been drained of their original meanings and connotations. Suitably, Aitken’s paintings hover between pictorial clarity and representational dissolution; her mountainscapes become liminal spaces, defined less by their permanence and solidity than by their fluidity and delicate shifts in gravity.
Guided by a sense of “infinite longing,” described by E.T.A. Hoffmann as the essential trait of Romanticism, Aitken succeeds in restoring a distinct quality of awe and contemplation, dreaminess and bafflement to the often moribund representations of nature we see around us.
Stephanie Aitken’s paintings have been shown throughout North America, including, most recently, at Or Gallery (Vancouver), Zsa Zsa Gallery (Toronto), the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and Terrain (San Francisco). Stephanie presently works and lives in Vancouver, where she teaches at the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, and at the University of British Columbia.