Executed on an epic scale Forest Pool with Wreckage
is a mesmerising example of Jonathan Wateridge’s celebrated hyper-realist Crash
series. Presenting the viewer with apocalyptic scenes of crashed planes and rusting ships, these strikingly constructed images theatrically play with the sense of the familiar, injecting an element of doubt and the uncanny into their meticulously rendered vistas. The present work’s sheer monumentality envelops the viewer, drawing you into its rich and verdant jungle that takes for its source the luscious dioramas and painted backdrops of museum displays. Nestled in this prehistoric jungle is the tail of a crashed aeroplane that is entirely at odds with its environment; modern technology ensnared by and at the mercy of nature. Exploring its status as a construct, a dominant theme throughout Wateridge’s entire oeuvre, the work slowly reveals itself as fragmentary, elaborately stitched together fictions with visible seams. In doing so the viewer is invited to question notions of the real and their own relationship to it. In spite of the work’s dramatic grandeur, Forest Pool with Wreckage
operates on a profoundly intimate and poignant level for Wateridge as it was painted in memory of his late father.
To create the present work, Wateridge first produced a scale model of the scene complete with a miniature plane that he then crafted into a wreckage. Working from constructed panoramas, Wateridge’s work is reminiscent of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s monochrome diorama photographs and those of Thomas Demand. In order to heighten the sense of the ‘real,’ the artist painstakingly builds his models, composes the images and points the lighting, mapping even the merest hints of shadow. With the artist directing its composition and final format, Wateridge’s work can be seen as akin to cinematography, by drawing together the grand art historical genre of landscape painting with a contemporary interest in film.