One of the most respected of North Carolina’s artists, Maud Gatewood never followed trends or fashion but pursued a singular course through a half-century of radical change in the visual arts. Her paintings record the varied experiences of a wandering life. Writing on the back of the canvas, the artist wryly notes the origins of this picture: “Trapped in the Amazon with a bad leg.”
Confined to a hut, she made the most of the opportunity. Jungle Camp is not so much about the lushness of the tropics as it is about illusion and the theater of painting. The artist teasingly unveils the scene, drawing back two lines of curtains. Our eyes thus move through a baffled, shaded space toward a sunlit outdoor – from a quiet, ordered interior to riotous jungle. In such paintings Gatewood is not offering us snapshots of her travels. She was no common tourist. Her travels gave color and vigor to her imagery, but they did not distract from her commitment to the basic intentions of art: to make sense of experience, if only provisionally, and to recast even the most incidental of moments into shared memory.
tags: environment, movement, perspective, place, pattern, trees
Gift of Thomas S. Kenan III