Water in the Sky Joshua AndreeWhen I was 10 years old, I remember standing in the ocean, putting on a snorkel, lowering myself below the surface and staring out into the vast expanse of blue. It was exhilarating and terrifying. My breath caught in my throat, I felt unanchored. My grounding in the present was lost.
I experienced a similar feeling when I walked into Josh Andree’s debut solo exhibition at Colville Gallery last year and again when I had the privilege of visiting Andree at his studio a few weeks ago to see this stunning new body of work.
“My work speaks to the idea of deep time and the abstraction of the vastness of time and space, which is a lofty sentiment, but when you’re a landscape painter you’re a testament to the vastness of time and space. It’s interesting to look at the landscape as collection of abstract ideas, visually and in terms of movement, and also in terms of time, because time is exceptionally vast. Time is the biggest, most vast thing we can comprehend, but time in itself is an abstract proposition.”
Andree’s works may seem figurative, photorealistic even, but abstraction is ever present – in the composition, the brush strokes, the play between sky and water.
His process is iterative; each work a conversation with the previous painting or, in a sense, all of the paintings that have come before it. Change is there, gradual but constant, as the changes in a landscape often are, or would be without the presence of humans; the orange background serving as a reminder that although these landscapes may appear to be grounded in reality, they are essentially still paintings, translations, veils that can be lifted from the canvas.
“That is specifically relevant to these paintings because of the atmospheric nature of the sky and because of its changing nature in the real world – it’s extremely delicate, thin, ephemeral, subject to change at a moment’s notice.”
Andree’s work is timeless and ageless; when you look at one of his paintings, you’re looking into the unknown. Take a deep breath and try to keep your footing.
Shasta Stevic is an artist, writer and curator.