Yesterday I showcased some Robert Bissell Animal Paintings but recently Robert Bissell has begun painting realistic landscapes in oils based on his own photography. So let us look at some of his landscapes without animals. Back in 2005 his landscapes as shown below already had a narrative structure - a winding river and disappearing road - both inviting the viewer to contemplate what might be found beyond. And the unusual is present in the Passing Shower as the power line almost divides the painting in half and disappears over the viewer's head in the foreground.
In 2008 Robert painted several paintings and my two favourites are shown below because I have a great love of paintings of grass and crops up close perhaps following in the brushwork of a Great Piece of Turf by Albrecht Durer. There is also an animation in the plants which engages the viewer and entices you to look deeper into the composition.
I particularly like Pacific Ocean (below) with the wild flowers acting as observers across the vast expanse of sea. To be able to execute the delicate foliage of the plants is the sign of a master artist.
Other seascapes have a more ominous tone to them especially as we enter 2020 and Covid-19 had arrived in our world.
Bissell's landscape paintings describe the ordinary beauty we can always find no matter where we are. His landscape paintings often illustrate the dichotomy between the natural environment and the creations of humans. We are invited into a meditation and empathy for the landscape that is presented to us. The scenes we are shown are familiar to us — these paintings ask us to pause and observe what is often seen as the mundane and the ordinary. Bissell then shows us that there is a magic and life to those things we routinely consider deadpan. Everyday details we might routinely pass by are highlighted by his compositional approach and brushwork. And while these works may appear as photographic realism, they transcend the limitations of the photographic form. We not only see into our own narratives but feel empathy for the extraordinary world at our front door. 1
Robert Bissell created several Lockdown Landscapes in 2020 and the one I have chosen to showcase will be very familiar to many of us - the Morning Walk with the dog!
Bissell ... shows us that there is a magic, life and beauty in the ordinary things around us.
Everyday details we routinely pass by are highlighted by his compositional approach and brushwork, transcending the limitations of the photographic form. The texture and palpable realism of paint on canvas allow us to discern details differently - how a concrete road ramp has been constructed, how a wild rambling bush grows over an old fence, or how the light falls over a modern home. Because these are the landscapes we have known all our lives they are part of our history and they resonate with us deeply. We not only see into our own narratives but feel empathy for the extraordinary world at our front door.1
Tomorrow we will look at some of Robert's Urban Landscapes as a prelude to a series coming up on the Ashcan School of New York and the Kitchen Sink Painters from the UK - schools of painters that created scenes of people in everyday situations.
Robert Bissell regularly exhibits in museums and galleries across the United States and Europe. This year (2021) he had an exhibition at Lahaina Galleries in Newport Beach, California.