The Art of Cogne IV: The Pittoresque

How many hours have you spent on holidays over the years attempting to capture the perfect landscape shot? Trying to keep out of the scene such inconvenient imperfections as steel high-rises, roadworks, parked cars and workmen in fluorescent jackets?

And why are so many landscape paintings devoid of the detritus of normal modern life?

I have been moved to reflect on this frequently this week. Nearly every cafe, hotel and restaurant in the region boasts paintings and photos of the surrounding mountains. All give an impression of a landscape without active human presence. I’m fascinated by what drives this idealised vision of surroundings. Nor am I immune to it. I have my own collection of perfectly composed scenic shots with no human in sight. But afterwards when I view them, I am conscious of the editing process and the slight unreality of the result.

Much of the time, though, I am driven by an alternative mode of seeing the world purely in terms of abstract form and colour. In this world view, the saturated and bold colours of safety barriers and chairlift machinery and mechanisms are to be welcomed and embraced. In this world view, I appreciate the extraordinary beauty of the modern world of health and safety.

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