Most often I will select for the
landscape reference in a painting, some
place well established and significantly altered by human
habitation. Then, with a little research and a lot of intuition,
attempt to return it to a pristine and untouched state. The
Painting titled Bonneville is an example of this desire to “paint
a landscape back”, so to speak. The site is the Salt
Lake Valley and if you go there you will of course, find it filled all
the way up to the brim with urban sprawl.
More recently I’ve been making
constructions which allow
me to address in the most direct and stark form, the essential
conflicts and contradictions refered to bellow. Reduction to key
elements implies continuity between the form, which is painted and
constructed, and any
structural environment the piece is
The work co-opts its surrounding architecture by means of what is
implied but left out.
See: Pahaska/Absaroka and Temelek in
contemporary collection at the Eitlejorg Museum in Indianapolis.
both the traditional conventions of
renaissance perspective and a painterly affirmation of the modernist
picture plane, Ron Clayton establishes a counterpoint in his paintings
between abstract and illusionistic space, the integration seems wholly
natural yet at the same time, there is a confrontation between flat and
illusionistic space which is intentionally
“There is a well
known passage in Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past in which he
his reader's consciousness across three
decades and many hundreds of miles with one sensory recollection.
I have never forgotten
it. Proust’s intention is to allow his reader to experience
two moments in time
simultaneously. I try
to do something analogous with the space in these paintings.”
The interior spaces depicted in these
paintings recall abandoned and
deteriorating industrial buildings, seductive in their painterly
rendering, yet vaguely threatening both to the viewer and to the
glimpses of nature each piece offers through a portal or passageway at
it's far end. These doorways offer the viewer a pastoral means of
escape, if he or she is willing to accept it. Clayton's work not
only represents real architecture, and real shifts in contemporary
culture, it depicts spaces symbolic of the conflict between the age of
technology and the natural man.”
Dan Addignton: ARTNOW Gallery Guide,
Chicago Feature, May, 1996
My current direction in painting,
which began to emerge around 1990, involves three simultaneous
interests, in other words;
These paintings work on three levels.
-1 As form, they
attempt to reconcile the past with
the present in western painting - to reconcile formalist/modernist
two-dimensional abstraction with tricks of illusionist pictorial space
such as linear perspective, invented during the Renaissance and later
repudiated by modernism.
-2 These paintings
also work on a literal level,
representing the conflict between the man made and the natural
worlds. The building interiors represent all human constructs,
not just industry but governments, economies, ideologies, philosophies
etc. as such they always appear to be more than they in fact are.
The illusionistically painted views of landscape represent nature
idealized and untouched by man.
-3 The paintings
also function as metaphors for
life. They place the viewer in a position where she/he must
choose from among many dead ends and false passages, the one path that
leads to eventual escape and reward in an idealized natural
world. In the latest work, perspective is manipulated and the
floors are painted slippery wet to make that pathway seem as
treacherous and unpredictable as life often really is.