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PHARMAKA - en plein air

"..go to nature in all singleness of heart, and walk with her laboriously and trustingly, having no other thoughts but how best to penetrate her meaning and remembering her instructions: rejecting nothing, selecting nothing and scorning nothing; believing all things to be right and good, and rejoicing always in truth."
John Ruskin (1819-1900) the pre-eminent art critic of the Victorian Age

PREMISE: Take a group of painters, all with different approaches to art-making, leave them in the desert with paint, canvas, and easel, and see what happens. The result will be surprising, allowing the viewer a glimpse into the act of creation...and the infinite paths that lead us there. No, not the latest fad in reality TV, but another inspired act by the members of the painter's group PHARMAKA.

PHARMAKA, as a group of painters seeking to infuse the timeless techniques and mystery of painting with a timely relevance in our new and fast-paced millennium, invites the viewer towards a deeper understanding of the often mystical act of artistic creation. By taking painter's from their sequestered, and at times hermetic studios, and bringing them together outdoors to see, discuss, and create together, we hope to capture a dialogue to be shared with all who view these works. Through this shared act of creation, a glimpse of the infinite paths of artistic interpretation as channeled through the artist's brush and palette is laid bare to all. Art is a dialogue, a conversation, an act of creation, a miracle... not just an act of consumption. This, PHARMAKA's action en plein air, lays these interwoven strings, this intersection of artist and environment, at your feet.

Art, especially painting, at the beginning of the 21st century is informed and misinformed by as many notions of what art is as there is evidence of what art has been. Painting has served the shaman, the church, the wealthy and nearly every political movement through the centuries·all the while embracing the mystery of beauty. PHARMAKA has chosen to embrace painting not for its political or monetary values but for the inherent need to express one's self through a process of applying paint. We engage not only history but also the visual language of art that has helped to define our place and our thoughts... and in the process allowing us the opportunity to recognize ourselves. Plein Air painting is a part of that history.

A simple idea, take your paints, brushes and canvas outside of the studio and paint what you see. This idea in modern times goes back to the Barbizon, an informal school of French landscape painting that flourished in the early 19th c. Earlier, it was Leonardo da Vinci, known as a true eccentric, who planted himself in various locales to draw from directly from nature (be it a landscape or a scientific study). It was through French Impressionism, however, that the idea spread to a wider audience. Through the 'revolutionary' ideals of this movement, embracing the artist's eyes and talent as the crucible through which art is wrought, the idea of communing with like-minded artists in nature and painting what was seen was brought to the United States. The light of California was, and still is, a perfect backdrop to explore the pursuit of truth through beauty, with the artist playing a double role as the seeker and creator.

The Plein Air artists of the past were often unified with a singular painting style, adding to their camaraderie. Today's art world is infinitely more pluralistic, with a multitude of styles crowding the stage. The idea of a group of artists getting together to paint the California desert is not new... but it is connected to this historic tradition. Unlike other art groups PHARMAKA is not interested in making statements with a unified voice. We are instead focused on the dialogue and tension created through the infinitely varied ways in which an artist approaches composition, style, and canvas. In an approach similar to that of Gerhard Richter, treating both the landscape and abstraction as a singular impulse of creativity, in this case PHARMAKA embraces the idea of Plein Air painting to provide the common ground where this growing pluralism can be engaged and better understood. Each artist will interpret the desert landscape in his or her own style, creating a microcosm that both reflects and speaks of the current tide.

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Website by David Haig Alexander