10th March 2023

In this splendid Neo Romantic exhibition Keith Lane draws parallels between the contemporary zeitgeist and the Tasmanian landscape.

Keith Lane, like his English predecessor John Glover, is an artist who practised in London and settled in Tasmania. Here for 8 years now he is responding to today’s zeitgeist with a style refined in the 19th century by others.

In developing Sublime landscape painting the original Romantic artists were reacting against the stain of English industrialisation. As workers left the country and moved to crowded and ill serviced cities, the countryside seemed a perfect place, free of smog and grimy toil, where rural labour was more healthful and the environment idyllic. Nature seemed to have a purity and power that was missing in the crowded city and the splendid vistas of mountains and lakes softened by mists seemed closer to God.

Painters used the innovation of the paint tube to travel into the hinterland with their gear and landscape painting transformed from a barely practiced craft to one which expressed spiritual and profound feelings.

How is this relevant today in a world of global warming and armed conflict? It’s certainly easy to see how the European industrial revolution contributed to the former. It’s also possible to imagine similar motivations in Keith Lane and J.M.W. Turner, painting at the end of the Napoleonic wars.

Keith Lane has borrowed the conventions used by his heroes, Caspar David Friedrich, Turner and the Australian, William Piguenit. Oil paintings suffused with light where water and wind threaten puny human beings with annihilation, a chasm rent by a torrent and an oncoming storm so typical of the Tasmanian highlands. But even within the storm there is a rainbow, and an eagle rides the tempest to safety, safe in its element.

Ultimately the exhibition talks about hope, a timeless theme, after difficult times. We see Haze and Morning Mist depict the soft morning, Cradle and Climb To The Summit describe sublime beauty and the eagle’s broad wings fly out of the darkness towards the future in Signs of Life. Building on his previous exhibition Phoenix Rising which commented on the aftermath of bushfire Keith Lane creates another optimistic  vision using the Tasmanian landscape as his focus.