The £25,000 first prizewinner of the prestigious John Moores 24 exhibition of contemporary painting at the Walker Art Gallery is Martin Greenland for his stunning invented landscape Before Vermeer’s Clouds.
The significance of the title is that the sky in the painting is copied from A View of Delft by leading Dutch painter Jan Vermeer (1632-75) – a work that has fascinated Martin for 30 years. He says Before Vermeer’s Clouds also has the same appearance of stability and unhurried peace as Vermeer’s.
Martin says about his winning oil on canvas painting, which features a waterfall and a distant town with a strange multi-coloured tower: “It’s a perfectly levelling thing to do, exploring landscape both real, as on a walk, or by completely inventing it – exploring the illusion of landscape made by the tactile breadth of oil paint.
“The first instance is about absorption, meditation, analysis, the second about realisation, connection, revelation – a show of things more or less understood. Completely inventing is an obsession but not a chore.
“It may seem futile to make the works seem as though they have been observed or taken from photographs but inventing gives the work reason for existence – what is shown exists only in this painted illusion. It’s a deeply satisfying thing to do and oil on canvas is still the broadest, most perfect vehicle for this.