In Don Pollack’s Far From Home , dreamlike landscape paintings reflect on perceptions of time, nature, and observation during a two thousand mile bike ride tracing a historic route.
Don Pollack is a nationally recognized practitioner of landscape painting. His hauntingly lyrical and conceptually stimulating paintings stand as a vital contemporary link in the long chain of American landscape painting. Pollack’s work has been compared to and exhibited alongside such early masters as Beirstadt, Church and Innes, as well as contemporaries Stephen Hannock, Thomas Woodruff and David Kroll. Critic Jerry Cullum of the Atlanta Journal Constitution has commented “This is incredibly beautiful landscape painting with a serious intellectual dimension plus an occasional humorous twist.” In his practice Pollack mines the relationship between photography and painting and considers the question of objectivity with any form of documentation, as well as the ways in which painting contributes to the construction of identity. Conceptually his works proceed from the premise that all vision is historic and constructed. From this perspective Pollack explores the way painting can simultaneously give reference to impermanence and the shifting visions of photography and the transience of a moment.
Believing that what defines us as Americans is a mythic journey that includes the movement west and into the landscape, Pollack undertook a personal epic journey to inform his current artwork with the layers of meaning derived from a prolonged and intimate immersion into the landscape. The paintings in the upcoming exhibition, “Far From Home”, result from a 2,000 mile “reverse journey”that the Chicago based artist made on bicycle in 2010 from Springfield, Ill to Washington, D.C. Opposing the historical notion of moving westward in the expansion of America, Pollack chose instead a route that was more likely to take him to scenes of urban congestion rather than a wilderness landscape. The ride was a continuation of “The Lincoln Project” wherein the artist retraced the historic journey Abraham Lincoln took by train from his home in Springfield, Ill to Washington, D.C. for his inauguration in 1861. “The Lincoln Project” was exhibited during the Lincoln Bicentennial at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill in February 2009 and the Union League Club in Chicago in July 2009. In 2009 Pollack was awarded the Order of Lincoln, the highest honor given by the state of Illinois.
Pollack writes that while riding he came to experience ‘time’ as a somewhat measured visual perception. Typography and numbers are harbingers of maps, GPS coordinates, cell phones and compasses. A tree on the horizon 15 miles away might have been seen as an hour and the bend in the road ahead could have been 10 minutes. “Time and space constantly reminded me that being a casual observer was illusory. Travel is like reading a book, and movement on a bicycle is like watching a movie. The dilemma this poses reveals a paradoxical relationship between the landscape and the methods used to record it. Lines and fades in painting suggest skips and distortions in film. Sometimes an image appears cloudy and clear simultaneously. Subjects are inspired from specific and imagined locations.” Ultimately the artist is aware that while painting what makes nature potent, mysterious, and ultimately untamable, he is at the same time manifesting an awareness that this view of nature is a product of his own mythology.
Chicago based Don Pollack has exhibited in the U.S. and Canada for thirty years. He earned an MFA at Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio in 1984 and has been an Adjunct Associate Professor at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago since 2005 and a Professor at the Illinois Institute of Art since 1986. He received the Lincoln Academy Award in 2009. His work is in the collections of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Springfield, Ill, the Union League Club, Chicago, Ill, the Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK, Western Illinois University, Macomb, Ill, University of Illinois, Urbana, Ill, Republican Governors Association, Washington, D.C., Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, NY, and the Prudential Insurance Company, Chicago, among others.
June 2 – July 2, 2011.
Marcia Wood Gallery
263 Walker Street
Atlanta, Georgia 30313