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 hung in.  The work co-opts its surrounding architecture by means of what is implied but left out. 
See: Pahaska/Absaroka and Temelek in the contemporary collection at the Eitlejorg Museum in Indianapolis.

             P/A thumbTemelek-1t
             Pahaska/Absaroka                                                                                             Temelek

Artist’s Statement:              

    “Utilizing 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 wrenching.                          
                         “There is a well known passage in Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past in which he rockets
                     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.”
                     Ronald Clayton

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. 

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