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Posts tagged LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE
The exhibit of work by Roberto Burle Marx, the legendary Brazilian landscape architect, at Rooster Gallery is called Tablecloth, after a large canvas one he painted in the 1960’s that’s been cleaned, stretched and given pride of place in the small gallery. Burle Marx is best known for designing the park Ibirapuera in Sao Paulo and for his collaborations with architect Oscar Niemeyer and planner Lucio Costa, including the grounds of several civic buildings in Brasilia. The tablecloth, along with the seven other paintings in the show, were gifts from Burle Marx to José Ramoa, a Portuguese art collector and close friend. At the opening reception the tablecloth, rendered in dizzying, overlapping patterns, made a stylish backdrop for patrons strolling back and forth with capirinhas in hand.
When you look at a painting by an architect (like one by Le Corbusier, or Michael Graves, or Zaha Hadid), you’re likely to find the same forms they employ in their architecture, but lacking their dynamism. Somehow these architects aren’t always able to capture the life of their architecture in their art; their two-dimensional works are unnaturally dulled. So I was surprised to see Burle Marx’s smaller paintings, which have a dense, sculptural sensibility altogether different from his landscape designs. You can spot similar amoeba-like geometries in both, to be sure, but the paintings boast a spatial complexity that’s different in character from his best-known garden designs, which seem to be primarily graphic. Is there more life in this great landscape architect’s paintings than in his gardens?
What makes a city a city, gives it an indelible, like-no-other-place character? It’s some kind of alchemy between landscape, location, culture and planning. In Savannah one essential element is the giant old live oak trees draped with clouds of spanish moss along the sidewalks and in the squares.
Along with ravaged socialites and fresh-faced SCAD students, these great, graceful trees are real city characters. Their enormous branches are twisted into demented, expressive shapes, as if they had been imagined by Edward Gorey. At daybreak the clouds of moss filter sunlight so that only a soft, skittish haze reaches the ground below. At dusk they sway slightly in the breeze and give off the faintest, phosphorescent glow, as if they’re sentient creatures, suffocating the trees and poisoning the air. It’s an old world, gothic feeling that’s part of the city’s allure.