Robert Masla: Painting From the Summit is Actually A Bold Contemporary Statement
Throughout my career as an artist, I have worked in many styles and genres in my continued exploration of creativity. During these many years I have always been drawn back to painting the landscape, and find it particularly gratifying to do so “en plein air”, painting while immersed in nature. From my first plein air landscape with my mentor at around age 12 I felt an affirmation of an already experienced connection to nature. I see my painting as a spiritual practice, not in any religious dogmatic sense, but my sense of spirituality is a sense of connectedness. To feel my presence as a part of nature, as both a witness and a participant in creation as it unfolds. For me, painting outdoors is a meditation, an opportunity to be in nature with focused and expanded awareness. Often times, as in the case of painting at the Summit, I often experience a sense of expansion and awe, a humbling and an ecstatic joy. In many of my landscape paintings I represent this feeling by pitting the finite against the infinite expanse. My painting is a celebration of life energy, connection and the beauty of creation. If I am successful, I am able to convey this to those that experience my artwork.
Progressively for more than 2 thousand years and particular at this point in history, humankind in general has become increasingly separated from the natural world. This is not simply an evolutionary development, the result of “taming of a harsh environment”, but a design created by the continued influence and abuse of a male dominated society. Rather than progressing towards “civilization”, humanity continues to cultivate it’s less than civilized traits, through a design that has sought to separate humans from our natural environment, -ultimately from ourselves. A design to separate us from our connection to our Mother Earth and one another. This is because in creating this illusion of separation, (because we can never actually be separated from nature, -from ourselves), we fall under the illusion that we can be independent of IT – our very Self. and we seek satisfaction in a myriad of illusions funneled to us in an artificial consumer society. More importantly, with the illusion of separation driven by male dominance permeating our consciousness, humans can more easily choose to subjugate, abuse and exploit ”the other” – humans, animals, the environment, nature as a whole. The qualities and behavior we end up developing in this society separated from it’s connection to nature are ones of predatory antagonism, bullying, selfishness, prejudice, sexism, actions diminished in compassion and self awareness and inflated with a sense of privilege, self-importance, deception and conceit. Our current so-called leaders embody these negative qualities, (certainly not great role models for children or society) and they are bold enough, (or greedy and ignorant enough) to declare that our actions as individuals and as a world community, do not have an impact on our environment. They continuously act in such a way as to place profit before the endangerment of the earths delicate balance and the survival of future generations. I believe my role painting the landscape serves as a bridge to reconnect individuals and in a broader sense, society to our endangered landscape, to draw attention to the beauty that surrounds us, to identify our place and interdependence in nature, communicate and find balance. For artists to paint in nature today, though perhaps seen as “traditional” or “retro”, is actually an avant-garde act that is rapidly growing in a resurgent movement. It is a bold statement that flies in the face of pop culture and our societies conditioning of instant gratification and the illusion of separation from nature. By emphasizing the Sacred Landscape in art, we acknowledge our connection to and dependence on Nature and the precarious position of our relationship with Her and perhaps, point a way back to honoring Her.