Philip Govedare is a Seattle-based artist and professor of painting and drawing at the University of Washington. Through grand, gesturally abstract landscape paintings, Govedare explores subtle gradations of light, imposed transformations of nature, and refracted implications of our bounded relationship with the earth. In his latest body of work, Hinterlands, Govedare magnifies the outlying rural heartland shadowed by urban centers, finding intricate patterning in agricultural fields and wetland runoffs. Through distant, suspended perspectives, Govedare investigates the great awe embedded in the surreal, surreptitious worlds we’ve forged on the borderlands.
“Painting is about paying attention, noticing things, feeling, and becoming sensitized to the world around us. I spend a lot of time in nature doing a variety of things, always looking for my subject matter and observing qualities of light, geological formations, and evidence of how we, as humans, have transformed the earth is some way large or small.” — Philip Govedare
Govedare uses natural surroundings as a foundational point for his work, though he never works from photos. Existent landscapes drawn from memory and reference blend with imagined scenery, coalescing into abstracted compositions completed entirely in the studio.
As much as land formations, Govedare’s work is equally attuned to vaporous expressions of atmosphere and shifting light. “Sequel” reflects the muddied, tactile ground into an ambiguous horizon line, exposing soft-edged bands of an early evening sky.
“Light in the landscape is both fugitive and transformative. It is the essence of spirit and vitality and sets a mood. It is created in large part through color relationships and the layering of complimentary hues, but also scraping back into a wet surface to expose something underneath.” — Philip Govedare
“Through a seemingly endless process of testing possibilities, moving paint across the canvas with a brush and palette knife, I arrive at form or a quality of light that is ‘found’ and resonates with something observed, imagined, or remembered.” — Philip Govedare
This interplay of color and gentle texture captures the transient nature of processing the vast shades of the sky at any given moment. The viewer scans Govedare’s canvasses as one might slow down on a midday saunter, briefly memorizing the elastic, inexhaustible bends that flutter above the horizon.
“As a species, I think we are biologically programmed to respond to different conditions of weather and light. It is part of human evolution to be sensitive to these qualities since climate and weather have implications for basic survival.” — Philip Govedare
Govedare’s acute rendering of drastic weather doubly serves as a personal reflection for the viewer. The instinctual human connection to nature is presented as tangible and grounding, but also a means of mining one’s own thoughts, memories, and experiences.
“In my work, horizons are less about a literal depiction of an observed phenomenon or place but are a metaphor and a mirror to an interior landscape of individual consciousness. Serene, tumultuous, or brooding, these qualities are expressed through the transformative qualities of light and atmosphere. They embody the full range of the human emotion that includes foreboding, joy and despair and hope, and elicit questions of purpose, mortality and the eternal.” — Philip Govedare
In “Orb,” a full spectrum of color traverses the picture plane, encompassing the industrial glow of a distant port, the unbridled expanse of wide-open lowlands, and the indiscernible transition between water and sky. The manmade impression on the earth is unavoidably centered, though Govedare presents the land as a mystifying catalyst to dig deeper into ourselves and nurture our relationship with the natural world.
“Painting should be revelatory and contain a mystery or reveal some hidden truth; it cannot be reduced to a simple formula or explanation. It should feed the imagination and provoke a sense of wonder by presenting the familiar in a way that is fresh, thought provoking and somehow exhilarating.” — Philip Govedare
Hinterlands, Philip Govedare’s exhibition of new work, will be on display at Winston Wächter Fine Art Seattle from March 30 through May 19, 2022.