Charles E. Burchfield (1893-1967), Cicada Woods, 1950-59; Watercolor, charcoal, and chalk on paper, 40 1/2 x 52 inches; Museo, Fundación Colección Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid
From Barcelona: BPAC Artist-in-Residence Entry 2, June 26, 2013
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
Throughout her year as Burchfield artist-in-residence, Janelle Lynch will share her thoughts and impressions with us as we share her journey into the spirit and work of Charles Burchfield.
Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid.
Charles Burchfield spent the summer of 1950 teaching at Ohio University in Athens and University at Buffalo, and could therefore have begun Cicada Woods in either place. The artist decided to retouch this watercolour in 1959, though a photograph of it in its previous state shows substantial differences with respect to the final work as it is known today.
The watercolour, painted in the large format that is so common in his output, is intended to recall the song of the cicada, that mysterious insect whose deafening song fills the air on late summer nights. The dense forest — enigmatic and impenetrable in most of Burchfield’s works — is made even murkier in the present painting by the rhythmic brushstrokes that imitate the repetitive chant of the cicadas. Even the clouds with their upward movement could also recall the pattern of an echo.
Paloma Alarcóund vegetation in shades of brown is withering and parched, while the lake on the horizon appears to be evaporating in the July heat. The sun itself, painted bright orange, blazes intensely and powerfully, beating down on the dry landscape with its rays. Here the watercolours are applied in short, dynamic strokes that disturb the calm of the scenery and convey a feeling of unrest. Burchfield, a refined watercolourist, often used this technique to give expression to his impressions of nature on large sheets of paper.
Janelle Lynch is the 2013 Burchfield resident artist. She has garnered international recognition over the last decade for her large-format photographs of the urban and rural landscape. Widely exhibited, her work is in several public and private collections including the Burchfield Penney, George Eastman House Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Newark Museum, the Fundación Vila Casas, Barcelona, and the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo, Salta, Argentina.