The art of ZenBy Louisa Buck
'Landscape' seems almost too tame a term to describe Christian Ward's eye-grabbingly vivid paintings where Technicolor mountains, caverns and grottoes shimmer with rainbows, cascade with multicoloured waterfalls and are wreathed in iridescent mist.
The influences of this 25-year-old graduate of the Royal Academy Schools range from Sixties psychedelic graphic design to ancient Chinese paintings, as well as the latest Japanese animation techniques. Yet for all their phantasmagoric otherworldliness - one critic described them as a cross between Fantasia and The Land That Time Forgot - they are always based on the direct experience of a real place.
'It's always about a primary experience and then coming back and not doing a topography, but making something surprising and revealing about the landscape,' he says. 'Contemplation is a very big part of the process.'
In the past, Ward's wanderings have taken him from the mountains of Scotland and across America into the Arizona desert, but his most recent paintings - and the ones that caught Charles Saatchi's eye - have their starting point in Yakushima, an island off the southern coast of Japan. This World Heritage Site with its virgin, swampy jungle and rocky mountains plunging into the ocean, is not only scenically spectacular, but also has a personal signi-cance. Ward's mother is Japanese and her family originally came from this area; two years ago Ward returned to the landscape that he had last visited as a child.
'It's where all my ancestors are from, so I'm dealing with those ghosts,' he says. 'Although I have no direct memories, there are strange little aspects that seemed very familiar.' Yet he's keen to emphasise that, 'these paintings are as much a mental island, an unknowable space that I can do what I want in, but which in the end does what it wants.' Read the entire article hereSource: