>Judith Belzer‘s paintings series ‘The Inner life Of Trees’ was created a number of years ago but is to my mind her most important work to date. Unlike many contemporary artists Belzer has brought nature back into the gallery forgoing taste, fashion and the 20th century obsession with deconstructing the everyday life around us.
In this series she has reacquainted us with the natural world on a very immediate level, on a micro level, showing us the beauty of trees, the swirling magnificence of the bark, the branches that teem with life and vigour. The compositions look like landscapes, craggy, fissured geological spaces that combine scientific naturalism with expressionist abstraction. Each work is thoughtful, evocative and emotional, makes us see things for the first time, makes us think harder about our environment, its importance and its fragility.
Belzer’s ability to render the light and texture of the wood is beautiful, her muted earthy tones sublime, her ability to grasp the essence of what she sees wonderful. Here’s what she has to say about her relationship to nature and her work:
No one view of nature prevails because nature itself- not just the observer- is constantly changing. Living species are engaged in a continuous process of metabolizing and reproduction, doing what it takes to keep going. The minerals and gases are changing too. While we humans might think everything revolves around our own life cycles, we are just one player in nature going about its business. The patterns found in nature – whether wood grain or ripples in sand or striated rock formations dramatize this constant activity, a pushing and pulling that occurs at every scale of time — with the tides in the ripples on the beach, with the earth’s unpredictable jolts to it’s crust, with the years in the grain of wood.
It’s surprising to me that while painting what I imagine to be going on inside the tree, I find all kinds of patterns or forms I’ve observed elsewhere in the natural world. I am reminded of things like stone outcroppings, sand dunes, shells, water, human body parts, and feathers. And then there are the echoing graphic patterns found in our various depictions of natural phenomena, such as the isobars on weather maps, topographical elevations and ocean floor charts. I’m not sure why there are all these repetitions, but it’s interesting to locate them and consider the reasons why evolutionary forces seem to share common patterns across the spectrum of nature.
I experience nature as a rolling, forceful energy that is extraordinary and yet also an ordinary part of everyday life. Is that because I somehow impose my own psychological state on what I observe every time I walk out my door? Lots of people assume that nature is something found only in wilderness parks, unchanging and saved for vacation days. In any case, during these times of mounting worries about the degradation of our local landscapes, an intimate engagement with nature, a recognition of the active part it plays in our daily experience, seems particularly urgent today. Don’t we need to come to an understanding about how to live in a truly reciprocal relationship with other species — if only for the self-interested reason of our own survival?