The World Down Under



THE CANVAS-Nov/Dec 2009 | by Suzette McAvoy

Richard Keen, Dudley Zopp & Hannah Bureau

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” -Albert Einstein

Geologics XIV, 2006, oil on canvas, 40” x 24” | Dudley Zopp







The Hidden Landscape

Dudley Zopp holds degrees in modern foreign languages from the University of Kentucky in Lexington and did post-graduate work in painting and drawing at the Allen R. Hite Art Institute at the University of Louisville. She has exhibited throughout New England and the Midwest, and currently lives in Lincolnville and New York City. She is represented by June Fitzpatrick Gallery in Portland and Betty Wasserman Art & Interiors in New York.

Beneath the surface of the visible world lies what paleontologist Richard Fortey calls the “hidden landscape” of geology. “Human endeavors do not succeed if they deny the geological realities,” he writes. “The hidden landscape is part of all of our lives.”

For the past several years, artist Dudley Zopp has been exploring Fortey’s concept of the hidden landscape in her work, which spans a wide variety of media, including large-scale installations, watercolors, Japanese woodblock prints, monotypes, and oil paintings. In the ongoing series of paintings she calls Geologics, the artist seemingly peels back the Earth’s surface, allowing us to observe what lies below.

Like the subject matter they imply, the heavily textured surfaces of these works, such as Geologics XIV, are built up gradually in successive layers. The abstract imagery that emerges hints at the ways rocks are formed and distributed across the landscape. “Patterns formed by stones and sediments are interesting to me,” Zopp says, “because they are evidence of geological history from the macro—orogenies—to the micro—the breakdown of rock into sand particles. It’s not enough to make a picture of something seen. My art itself has to be the product of some natural process—the piling up of pigment, the dissolving effects the medium, the accretions of color indicative of organic growth and decay.”

Zopp’s Geologics paintings are meditations on time and humanity’s place in the natural world. They remind us of the geological forces that have shaped our contemporary landscape while revealing the artist’s deep connection to the Earth. Through them, she offers the viewer an opportunity to reflect on the present moment, “knowing that our lives are bounded by a past measured in thousands of millions of years of geological time, and by a future measured in the slow growth of organic life, an unknowable future of which we are the accidental stewards.”


What lies Below WEIR_w

Richard Keen studied fine arts at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, and earned MA from the State University of New York at Albany. He has exhibited throughout the United States and was recently awarded a “Good Idea Grant” from the Maine Arts Commission. He lives in Brunswick and is represented by Leighton Gallery in Blue Hill, Elizabeth Moss Gallery in Falmouth, and Whitney Art Works in Portland.

Weir 106 with Hull, 2007, encaustic on paper on panel, 16” x 16” | Richard Keen






Richard Keen’s artwork is inspired by his frequent travels along the Maine coast and to its offshore islands, including Monhegan and Grand Manan. The working waterfronts and shoreline environments that he encounters while kayaking and camping on these trips, and his experience diving on boat moorings in Casco Bay, provide the visual stimulus for several recent series of paintings.

The paintings in these groups, collectively titled Area Below Water, Ocean Hull, and Weirs, range in size from very small—5 by 5 inches—to moderately large—4 by 4 feet. In them, Keen explores the world above and below the waterline, effectively conjuring the physical and spiritual qualities of place. While essentially abstract in imagery and composition, the paintings reference the coastal landscape through horizon lines and shapes that suggest islands. The outlines of boat hulls, fishing weirs, mooring chains, and other maritime elements symbolically suggest the tradition and heritage of coastal life.

“When I first moved to Maine,” the artist says, “I was working in a completely geometric, abstract style. Then I saw my first fishing weir while on a trip to Grand Manan Island. After that encounter I started trying to build a bridge between my interests in abstraction and realism.”

In Weir l06 with Hull, the painting’s square format is divided by a high horizon line—a soft coral-pink hue defines the sky above, while the more heavily textured blue-gray area below suggests a turgid, wind-swept sea. The richly colored, layered surface of this work is characteristic of encaustic, an ancient painting method that utilizes hot wax combined with colored pigment.

Living in coastal Maine and working on the ocean provides an environment that kindles Keen’s art. “Beyond creating visually engaging and pleasing works of art,” he says, “I work towards stimulating a visual dialogue with viewers that encourages them to look more deeply at the connections between their memories of the environments and objects that impact their lives—as I have chosen those that influence mine.”


HannahBureau_wBeneath the sea

Hannah Bureau was born in Paris, France, and came to America at the age of eight. She is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design and was selected as an outstanding graduate student at Massachusetts College of Art and Design, where she received her MFA in painting in 2008. She is represented by gWatson Gallery in Stonington and Julie Heller Gallery in Provincetown.

Lobster Scape I, 2009, oil on canvas, 10” x 10” | Hannah Bureau






In early June 2009, artist Hannah Bureau received an unexpected gift of two lobsters from Ron Watson, owner of gWatson Gallery in Stonington, where she exhibits during the summer months. The gift was intended as inspiration for paintings to be included in the gallery’s Consider the Lobster exhibition in July.

“For a few hours I lived with the squirming lobsters on a table in my studio,” Bureau says, “I admired their patterning and colors—deep blue-greens with hints of orange, and especially the curves of their backs and legs.” The result of these observations is a group of expressively rendered paintings depicting the iconic Maine crustacean in its environment beneath the sea.

“I contemplated a still life,” says the artist, “but knew that I would eventually change the form of the painting to resemble a landscape, as I always do. I can’t escape the fact that I am a landscape painter, and that it is my favorite motif.”

But Bureau does not take a direct approach to the landscape. Instead she paints intuitively, allowing the image to emerge and become more specific as work on the canvas progresses. Using a method of mark-making that she describes as “call and response,” she builds up the picture in layers. “Beyond the color palette I do not plan the paintings ahead of time,” she says. “I watch as they develop from different marks. I have really noticed the importance of reworking a painting beyond the first sitting. I wait until the paintings are dry and then add more layers. In this way I am able to gather and pile up painterly marks.”

All of Bureau’s paintings are modestly sized, and most are under 16 by 20 inches. The small dimensions of her works, including Lobster Scape I, emphasize their intimate viewpoint. As the artist says, “This scale captures a bit of the wild and tames it.”

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