Invisible landscapes

The theme of "invisible landscapes" borrows its title from Italo Calvino's novel "Invisible Cities." In Calvino's story, the young Marco Polo entertains the elderly Kublai Khan by narrating stories about cities Marco Polo has visited during his vast travels. The cities' architecture and plans are often vague while the atmospheres evoke ephemeral states of mind such as desire, memory, and personal encounters. As the short chapters progress, It's not clear if the cities are real or entirely improvisational creations of Marco Polo's imagination.

The images that make up this portfolio of "invisible landscapes" spring from my mind while being informed by nature. Sometimes they begin with specific memories of particular places. Often, they're impromptu compositions. A thought — vague or conceptual — may start a sketch. Other times, it's a series of marks that lead to additional marks, then larger forms, and eventually a composition, evolving into a sense of a landscape. The pictures can be literal representations of land, water, foliage, and sky — or simply gestures that evoke landscapes.

I am curious about how the mind and thoughts find form in nature and vice versa. Jane Austen and Virginia Woolf are two authors whom I associate with an awareness of the blending of nature and the mind.  In Jane Austen's "Pride and Prejudice," landscape becomes a calling card and metaphor for the personality of an estate owner. As Elizabeth Bennet approaches the Pemberley estate, she is so overwhelmed by the landscape that she feels that she instantly knows Mr. Darcy even though he is not present at that moment. In the novels and essays of Virginia Woolf, landscapes become metaphors for states of mind; thoughts and nature are one and the same. Perhaps, when we're open and porous, our thoughts and nature do merge and partake in each other.  A mind reflects as does a pond when cast with light.


Elizabeth’s mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every remarkable spot and point of view. They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road, with some abruptness, wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; — and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!
— from "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen