In this exhibition, Boggess presents a selection of his landscape paintings, the subjects of which reflect the diverse nature of West Virginia and its flora. Using all vertic al formats, Boggess draws the viewer into the deeply receding spaces of his images. The pictures, devoid of human or animal habitation, focus on Nature, free of the influence of human activity. Boggess compels the viewer to contemplate each scene in turn, and finally the cycle of scenes: the lapse of hours; the alternating character of the rocks, of the trees and of the land; the turn of season. The paintings themselves become the spaces they portray.
In many large and small ways, Boggess' paintings reflect the entire tradition of landscape painting. When asked what major influences or past movements might have left their imprint, Boggess says that whatever images he might be studying at the time provide the nexus for his own work. Indeed, the viewers will find suggestions of the Romantics, the Luminists, the Impressionists, and the Expressionists. Yet, the artist does not set out to make his works conform to a preconceived style; rather, he melds the tradition and his own experience into a way of seeing and a style in landscape painting which is uniquely his own.
There are no animals; there are no fences; there are no deposits of waste in the streams. Boggess gives us Nature, seemingly pure and undefiled. For him, and for his viewers, Nature in its pure state has the capacity to heal, and that is where Boggess brings his attention and, with it, ours. The artist often chooses not to paint precisely what he sees. Rather, he eliminates all of the human detritus. He leaves out the barbed wire and the old tires washed onto the streams' banks. Boggess gives us meditative bits of landscape without assuming any tone of preaching to his viewing public, and without heightening or saddening it, either. For him, Nature is an embodiment of beauty, of what we now have and must protect. For viewers who have any acquaintance with the natural world, these pictures resonate with memory, with experience, and create for them a respite from frenetic routine.
In Boggess' stylistically heavy application of the paint, in his roughly-textured surfaces, he is closest to the German painter Anselm Kiefer, a post-World War II Expressionist, whose use of landscape reverberates with the devastation of the Nazis. His landscapes are wounded, bleeding, unquiet, all seemingly opposite qualities to the work of Lynn Boggess, yet the two share many attributes, especially their aggressive, unflinching approach to subject.
The landscapes of Lynn Boggess give us a year-round walk in the woods. They provide us with a series of meditations on beauty; they give us an opportunity to consider the importance of Nature to our own experience. They also contain, in small subtle ways, much of the history of landscape painting. Because Boggess has chosen to paint Nature directly, and because he sees it as beautiful and endangered, he draws us into his fierce political vision. Because that vision is so disciplined that the artist presents it for us, without commentary, we may choose for ourselves which memory to recall; which path to take.
Marian J. Hollinger, Curator
James David Brooks Memorial Gallery
Fairmont State College