Rackstraw Downes

Rackstraw Downes was introduced to me through realistic landscape paintings of Texas, which he painted onsite, featuring distinctive pink mountains. All around here were tiny structures, representing the most precious things you could find in the desert – shade – and once the whole landscape is revealed, it is seen as a racetrack. From this, he completed five drawings, four of which he painted.
Much of Downes’ work looks at sparseness. Through this, he chooses landscapes because of how un-magnificent the mountains are, because he can compare them against the magnificent ones. Other works that have been found in deserts include that of construction and ruin sites, where buildings simultaneously look like this. His works have also allowed him to look at rolling sand mountains that are very high up, especially with astonishing drama of the light. When he paints, Downes paints his environment and his surroundings, and this does curve around you.
Downes keeps his emotions out except the emotion of respect for the landscape. A rapport between his image and what is there has been built, and these elements answer to one another. Downes also constantly learns from the sites that he picks and becomes almost obsessive over them. It was also his hand that told him that he needed to move locations in order to paint new landscapes and to almost redefine or reinvent himself.
The wandering eye is used throughout his work as you see images part by part, and the painting unfolds. Perspective is not specifically what he is interested in as everything changes through movement and time, however perspective still comes across in his paintings. Throughout the body of his work, Downes is interested in big spaces that are empty.
I enjoyed learning about the lack of perspective in the process, but the large amount of perspective that is seen in the final piece, and the obsessiveness that comes over Downes about a particular landscape when painting. The precision is also an element that has fascinated me as I initially believed that his work was a photograph.

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