New Major Project 2016
Date: 6 Jan 2016
Exploring Beauty - Watercolour Diaries From The Wild
by Tony Foster
Beauty: (n) The quality that gives pleasure to the sight or aesthetic pleasure generally; a particular grace or excellence; a fine specimen of its kind.
My new exhibition is entitled “Exploring Beauty - Watercolour Diaries From The Wild”. It opened with a solo show at the Royal Watercolour Society, London on June 8th 2016 before travelling to Royal Cornwall Museum, Truro, UK and is now showing at the Foster Art and Wilderness Foundation, Palo Alto.
In it I hope to promote the idea that making art which is philosophically positive and beautiful about some of the world’s most extraordinary places is an acceptable practice for a Contemporary Artist. I want to provoke a discussion about the nature of beauty and our varied perception of it, and why making beautiful objects is not longer a part of the artist’s required skill-set.
In order to help identify the subjects for my paintings I asked Luminaries to nominate what they consider to be the most beautiful example in their field of expertise. I travelled to their nominated destinations, and made major works about their chosen subjects. . As befits the importance of the subject I have made the largest paintings I (or anybody else) have ever made on site – up to 7ft x 4ft.
I received varied and fascinating suggestions from:
- Denali : Dr Winslow Briggs, Director Emeritus of the Carnegie Institute of Plant Biology , Stanford University.
- The Grand Canyon : Dr Bill Brace (1926 - 2012) Chairman Emeritus of the Dept of Earth and Planetary Sciences, MIT.
- Mulu, Borneo ; Robin Hanbury Tenison, Explorer.
- Borneo Rainforest: Professor Sir Ghillean Prance, former Director Kew Botanical Garden.
- The East Face of Everest looking down the Kama Valley : Stephen Vanables, climber.
- Machapuchare: Annie & Bill Vanderbilt – writer and adventurers.
- Maldives Sunsets : Ann Foster
- New England Fall Colour : Peggy Brace, environmental campaigner / Massachusetts Democrat of the Year 2014.
- Parinacota, Chile : Professor Steve Sparks, Chairman of the Geological Society and winner of the Vetlessen Prize 2015.
- Atacama Desert Chile ; Professor Maria Teresa Ruiz, Professor of Astronomy, University of Chile.
- Wistmans Wood, Dartmoor : John Halkes, former Chairman Friends of the Earth UK , gallery director and Parish priest.
- Mont Blanc: Lionel Wibault, Senior Chamonix Guide and artist.
- Icebergs in Greenland : Kari Herbert, early Northern Greenland resident – daughter of Sir Wally Herbert.
- A View across the Wash from Norfolk : Sir Andrew Motion, former Poet Laureat.
- Places I can walk to form my own back door : Tony Foster
As a contrast to places of global renown I also made a group of works about places I can walk to from my home in Cornwall, as evidence that beauty can be found on ones own doorstep.
This exhibition is necessarily my subjective personal response. Although beautiful, it is NOT an exhibition of sentimental clichés. I hope it will lead to debate and discussions about the nature of beauty in the 21st century, and its place in Contemporary Art.
Beauty is the most dangerous idea in art …. (it) has been worshipped as the highest artistic value and denigrated as a pagan temptation. (Jonathan Jones).