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Giardini I (2017)

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Giardini II (2017)

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Giardini III (2017)

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Giardini IV (2017)

 

 

Because there are no perfect works of art there is always something else for the artist to do. this search for stability in a painting or sculpture parallels our fundamental search for orientation in life. The name that philosophers give to this search for orientation is “metaphysics”. It is not a science - in fact, it is an activity that has more in common with art and literature. The italian artists, Giorgio de Chirico and Carlo Carrà pioneered a short-lived style called Pittura Metafisica in 1917. among their fellow travellers was the young Giorgio Morandi, who would spend much of his subsequent career rearranging the dusty jugs and bottles on a table, finding all the inspiration he needed in these humble configurations. Although Pittura Metafisica was but a blip in the history of art, there have been many different kinds of metaphysical painting, both before and after the Italian experiment. It is an approach that has exerted a powerful attraction for Peter Boggs, whose landscapes are classically beautiful but with a strange, uncanny element. This is partly because the gardens, roads and buildings in these paintings are all examples of human ingenuity but the creators themselves are nowhere to be seen. It is a vision of the world after the neutron bomb, and it feels disturbingly attractive. For the chief subject of these pictures, Boggs returns again and again to the Boboli Gardens in Florence. Originally laid out for Eleonora di Toledo, the wife of Cosimo i de Medici, in the sixteenth century, the gardens have a manicured, formal quality. They also contain an impressive collection of sculptures, and elements of fantasy such as a stone grotto. It is these contradictions, this blend of geometry and whimsy, that Boggs finds so fascinating. In his Boboli paintings Boggs is less concerned with detail than with mood and atmosphere. He achieves these effects by means of a close control of tones. the results are dream-like, as if we are looking at each scene through a veil so thin that it is barely detectable. That veil is the invisible barrier that separates consciousness from the deeper recesses of the mind. The Boboli holds another attraction for Boggs in that the mythical origin of all human misery and disorientation lies in the expulsion from the garden – a theme painted so memorably by Masaccio on the walls of the Brancacci Chapel in the Florentine church of Santa Maria del Carmine. The garden, so tantalising and ghost-like in these pictures, is a metaphor for that place of perfect stability – the still centre of a turning world - that exists only in our minds. When I look at these paintings I see the carefully ordered components of a landscape, but I feel as if I am the only living being in that environment. The viewer is alone in these paintings as he or she is alone in life, immersed in that subtle mixture of pleasure and pain we call melancholy. John McDonald August 2010. John McDonald is art critic for the Sydney Morning Herald.