Painting the landscape My landscapes are a testimony of freedom. Freedom of mind, freedom of experience, an attempt to express the experience of the real landscape in a painting. In a time where the real landscapes are “hiding” because our minds are more and more entangled in virtual reality-landscapes my paintings try to reveal the power of the real landscape when you walk in it. I’m painting my impression, I’m painting the expression I give to it. Therefore I use sometimes little pictures from places in history: river Rhine, Berchtesgaden 1936, Dolomites, Alpes, Schwarzwald, all in Germany and Austria in the years before World War two. They were souvenirs from that period and tourist could buy them as a remembrance of the places they visit. Armando, the Dutch painter inspired me to reflect on this landscapes and I started in 1998 with the collection Mayerhoven 1938. They were some kind of answer to Armando. He declared the landscape guilty, because they witness the cruelty that happened. My question was: are these landscapes on the photo’s of Mayerhoven in 1938 also guilty for the things that would happen in the time during the war? In the vision of Armando the landscape is a place that evokes questions about guilt and ethics. Not the landscape in general but special places, landscapes for instance where a concentration-camp was founded. Therefore I’m interested specially in Germany because German mythology (also a theme of Anselm Kiefer) had indicated many places in the German landscape with a special meaning. This process of meaning, this mythology is a kind of background in my paintings which I do not articulate in a story. I’m only painting the landscape in a new way. New is my fantasy to enlarge the picture with a painting. Beside older photographs from the period 1930-1940 I’m using also pictures I made from the landscape that I visited or where I live. River Waal, river Rhine (Bingen), river Maas, Kranenburch Bruck, Overasseltse vennen, Groesbeek bruuk (moorland), Limburg, snowlandscapes, Ardennes and the Voerstreek (Belgium), pictures with a horizon, are the themes and the places I visited. These pictures figure as a starting point to paint a new landscape. They express my vision of the importance of the landscape and the special attention I give to the horizon in life. Heaven and earth are coming together in the horizon, they meet, and this horizon can be a starting point to think about your own life: where do I come from, where I’m going to, and so on. Painting is for me also a way of finding meaning in life by putting the right questions. Painting as a metaphorical search for meaning, the landscape as a road to self-understanding, the accident in painting (with water-based paint), it is a complex of meanings and behavior. I’m using pigments because the Japanese painter Kaii Higashiyama inspired me to do so. These pigments were mixed with casein or/and with an acrylicglossbind. Then diluted with water. The most I like painting on paper but sometimes canvas and wood are used. I’m started painting in 1972. Two teachers, artists inspired me to choose my own themes and I experienced with different materials. In 1987-1988 I decided to paint with pigments on a water-base. Ten years long I only used blue as a colour. Later I changed my pallet. In 1995 I discovered that the landscape was my theme and that I got the most inspiration from the experience of the landscape. My reflection on this landscape has never stopped since then.
John Hacking (1956) 20 of October 2012
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