A guiding impetus for centuries of painting has been the attempt to represent sheer forces of nature, in all of their power and overwhelming glory. It’s an edict that has inspired countless landscape paintings — not to mention poems, novels and more — and one that remains just as compelling today as it was in the 19th century.
For proof, look no further than Scott E. Hill’s latest work on display at Bennett Galleries in Green Hills, Walk Across Water. While it echoes the legacy of Romantic landscapes, it does so with some thoroughly contemporary sensibilities.
“The work of artist Scott E. Hill is at once old-fashioned and sophisticated,” according to a statement provided by the gallery. “His paintings are reminiscent of a long-gone style found in the brooding landscapes of 16th century Spanish artists and the shadowy, gilt-framed works of 19th century Romanticism.”
Though the tempest in Walk Across Water harkens to the somber, overwhelming landscapes of centuries-old art movements, Hill balances this legacy force with a gentle and magical figure in the foreground. In one interpretation, this glittering insertion of fantasy may speak to the work’s underlying balance — the weight and power of landscape painting as a history raging in the background while an undaunted manifestation of contemporary imagination glides before it.
Hill grew up in Northwest Georgia and his memories there serve as inspiration for much of his work. Many of his pieces employ a technique called glazing — one that was, perhaps, most famously leveraged by Vermeer — which involves brushing oil or varnish over a layer of paint and allowing the colors below to bleed through. This adds a richly aged element to the paintings, further emphasizing the parallels between Hill’s work and the history of visual art.
However, much like the dual elements in Walk Across Water, Hill’s larger oeuvre contrasts a penchant for art history with contemporary experimentation.
“Although he works primarily with oil, Hill also experiments with watercolors, coffee stains and oil pastels, and has an impressive body of graphite drawings as well,” per Bennett Galleries. “Regardless of medium, a limited palette and a skilled hand convey a certain mood … much the same as that sense of tranquility that follows a summer storm, as well as the quiet violence that precedes it.”
Bennett Galleries is located at 2104 Crestmoor Road in Green Hills.