James Cousins, Envoy, 2022
Printed billboard skins, acrylic paint. 3000 x 6000mm.
Landscape painting and tourist advertising are two visual genres with a shared interest in capturing the beauty of a place for the pleasure of its viewer, and modern technologies have enabled anyone with a device to participate in this kind of snapshot representation.
Working outside the gallery and at a large scale for the first time, James Cousins’ contribution to the sculpture trail subverts these traditions to initiate a slower engagement with image and place.
Beginning with a photograph of the surrounding site, enlarged, and printed onto a billboard skin that acts as the work’s canvas, Cousins has subsequently added layers of paint using different application techniques.
The result is a “distorting filter” that shuttles between transparency and opacity, abstraction, and figuration, the real and its representation. Obstructing easy access to the image, Cousins undermines consumption and gratification as habitual modes of perception, calling instead for a slow appraisal of the picture surface that might also direct viewers to look beyond it to the immediate environment that here, as always, exceeds and diminishes the bounds of the picture frame.