View From Hague Log Church SOLD

oil on canvas 21 x 26.5


Chris Gargan

"I ran across the phrase “landscape as moral destiny” the other day. I knew that Immanuel Kant had used the term moral destiny to suggest that human moral development either must be degrading, progressing, or stagnating. I’m not all that familiar with philosophy and the author who used the phrase that I stumbled upon was not referencing moral progress, he was critiquing the life’s work of a film director. But the term resonated never the less.

It occurs to me that ‘Landscape’ can indeed serve as an instrument of moral destiny. It is more than our attitudes towards exurban sprawl and recycling that are at stake; it is the very condition of that aesthetic essence that governs our choices towards beauty, correspondence, and proportion. I suspect that not infrequently, those who are deprived of, or choose to ignore the simple nature of the horizon, quickly become out of balance with their moral universe. For me, there is some portion of my internal gyroscope that demands reference to the physical thing; not only for my work, but also for my life.

It has further occurred to me that landscape is the most logical gateway to so-called abstract art. I find that as I continue to paint I am increasingly less interested in the ‘thingness’ of what I paint, and incrementally engaged by the relationship between those things. In Cezanne’s equation color, form, and light can be seen as the same thing. They are means to an end, but dependent on the eye of the artist to attach significance to those elements. Generations of artists have used his awareness to liberate themselves from centuries of the dictates of spatial presentation. Now we must find a way to step back from the horizon-less abyss that modernity has presented to us.

I am for color. I am for shape. I am for above and below. I am for seasons and stillness. I am for letting the landscape tell me what to do next, where to put the next mark, what color to choose or to make. I am for equivalence and the limitations of my chosen media. I am for urgency, immediacy, and fragility. I am for spaces and borders, and I am for the integrity of a visual idea.

There is nothing I do, nothing I could achieve without the support and encouragement of my wife, Nancy Herzog. These paintings are as much hers as they are mine."

--Chris Gargan

Current Works

524 East Main Street • Stoughton, Wisconsin 53589 • 608-845-6600 • Located just southeast of Madison