I never get sick of driving out to the Headlands Center in large part because I love being walloped with the natural beauty of its surrounding environs, and there was no better venue Thursday night to hear contemporary artists Jeremy Morgan, Mariele Neudecker, and Ned Kahn speak about the influence of landscape on their work. Morgan is a painter who creates large-scale canvases that evoke geological phenomena without being explicitly representational, and it was a revelation to hear he himself had been strongly influenced by classical Asian landscape painting as Morgan's work invites contemplation in a very similar way. He also confessed his perfect studio would be a cave with no natural light, a fact that Mariele Neudecker laughed she was horrified to learn.
Neudecker is currently in residence at the Headlands and had completely knocked me on my butt during summer open house with her life-size rubbings of Nike missiles from the nearby missile site, and she showed slides of those pieces as well as her earlier work including the tanks pictured here. One of her foremost interests is perspective, and she uses sculpture, photography, and film to cleverly distort reality for the viewer, often using landscape as a starting point. She's on the shortlist to be the next artist to present work on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, and I'm crossing my fingers that her piece is picked.
Last but definitely not least Ned Kahn spoke about his environmental sculptures, some of which I have been interacting with since I first visited the Exploratorium as a wee lass. He showed clips of buildings covered with a grids of lightweight aluminum shapes that ripple when the wind blows, a glass globe that forms its own weather patterns inside when you spin it, giant vortices of fog and mist. Kahn clearly remains inspired by the natural world, and I also appreciate the nifty feats of engineering he employs to create his installations. And even though he utilizes very different materials than Morgan and Neudecker, all three artists generate in their work exactly the sort of transcendent moments that a sublime landscape itself does.