The hazy disposition of Soft Blue Landscape Study depicts two women in ivory satin dresses, posing in the forest glade. Situated slightly off centre, the contours of the delicate female figures are reinforced by the superimposition of the deep blue-green and pastel coloured vegetation. Meanwhile, towards the left, a faded imprint of an Andrex packaging sits in solitude, blending seamlessly with the faint backdrop reminiscent of a water colour painting. Taking his in-depth exploration of the visual conditions of mass consumption to a poetic level, Hamilton’s Soft Blue Landscape appropriates commercial modes of representation in an almost impressionistic manner. His subtle register of textures encourages the eye to travel over the surface and across the sprayed and smeared marks, finally settling on the photorealist elements constituted by the female figures.
Hamilton was not only one of the leading figures of the Independent Group, also known as the radical forerunners of Pop Art, but was a highly influential writer, artist, teacher and designer as well. Being one the first of his generation to return to figurative painting, Hamilton has buoyantly embraced and combined various aesthetics, media, techniques, processes and genres.
With his Soft Blue Landscape Study, Hamilton deliberately gives viewers the impression that they are looking through a long focus photographic lens at shielded activity. The artist worked painstakingly using pencils, crayons, gouache and paints to create an air of spontaneity and, in this regard, he was perhaps more successful with this work than in the subsequent oil painting of the same name.
The unison of the focused and blurred compositional elements of Soft Blue Landscape Study generate a confounding and ambiguous optical contrast, making the beholder feel as though they have accidentally stumbled upon this tranquil scene.
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