If art has only one purpose, it is the purging of emotional trauma. Lee Krasner’s Gothic Landscape was created in the wake of her husband and fellow Abstract Expressionist Jackson Pollock’s untimely death in the Nineteen Fifties.
The Abstract Expressionist tenet of automatism fosters the visceral articulation of Krasner’s grief and encourages the viewer to meditate on the creative context and artistic motivation for the work.
The art produced from eschewing conscious intention is pure abstraction. Removed from premeditated figurative forms, the work is painted in a strongly intuitive and impassioned manner, but to perceive Gothic Landscape as a work of gestural purity is to misunderstand Krasner’s intentions.
Abstract Expressionists often painted in a violently physical fashion, they aimed to create particular effects, expressing inner emotions, attained via rigorous experimentation.
Having taken many years to complete, there is a sense with Gothic Landscape that Krasner is celebrating the long struggle as much as overcoming it. This is conveyed through the aesthetic appeal of her dramatic brushwork.
Resembling trees, the thick vertical lines represent the strength and direction found at the point of resolution. The beauty of these strong brush-strokes is matched by the movement generated from the arresting, black, thorn-like tangle of curves.
Embodying Krasner’s grieving process, a cathartic energy emerges from the canvas, with the colour palette echoing that of her late husband. Her strength of passion for Pollock, symbolised by the entwined lines and moments of red, is the culmination of deep contemplation.
Gothic Landscape is a memorial of the healing process, and is as emotionally honest as any work that results from an automatic exercise.