Matthew Reeves —  Backgrounds

Briony Anderson’s practice ranges from studio-based work to collaborative projects, often seeking a reinvestigation of the cultural significance of the landscape. Her current work responds to 18th and 19th century portraiture, especially that of the Scottish painter Henry Raeburn (1856–1923). Through editing out the motif of the sitter and focusing only on the natural backdrops behind, Anderson’s abstracted compositions highlight the complex relationship between the act of viewing, and the reality, or identity, of the subject being viewed.

The idea of the painted, or written, landscape is analyzed as a construct of the imagination. Devoid of their human figures, emotive and even nationalistic images of mountainous rises and stormy grey nebula become displaced and floating, collections of tone and line that represent no real location in the world, but evoke the sweeping vistas and dramatic panoramics synonymous with the genre. In this way, Anderson’s abstracted brush strokes, and her subtle use of colour over many quickly worked layers, is a process of excavation, seemingly hollowing out the surface of the image and as a result, probing the symbolic weight of the painted landscape. Through the self-reflexive and visible processes of composition, deliberation, and creation, her work explores these images as constructs of the psyche, but ones that nevertheless offer reeling, dense, and emotive encapsulations of our relationship with the imagined landscape. 

Young Masters, Sphinx Fine Art, Truman Brewery, London, 2009
Text copyright, Matthew Reeves 2009