Luke Fair

Luke Fair
NSCAD University (Halifax, NS)

The 21st century urban relationship to landscape is changing. Landscape has often been something that is elsewhere in the distance. However, global warming and decolonization brings landscape to the foreground of thought. My work brings attention to the ways we look at our surroundings and normalize given environments. Drawing and painting are my tools for observation and analysis of a subject. When starting a large painting I work from sketches, photographs, and memories of wandering urban, rural, and mental environments. The source material however, is often discarded shortly after starting and a new process of wandering begins with my hand and paint. I am currently interested in the visual aesthetics of manicured landscapes and free-growing vegetation. These spaces speak symbolically of societal land ontologies which are further reflected in architecture, landscape architecture, and resource extraction methods. Manicured landscapes perpetuate colonial imagery and cultural dominance over nature.

Landscape is land shaped by ideology. Viewing land as a landscape segregates one’s analog experience of the land from the visual representation. Built environments such as look-outs or high-rises and photographic reproductions emphasize landscape as a view, creating a screen that blurs the direct experience of land. Landscape therefore is an object different than the sum of all its individual parts. Like landscape, objects are also illusionistic. Land reveals and conceals its essence to us, mitigated by a screen of projected meaning. My process seeks to look and listen to the ways the land is in flux with myself and society.

Working with landscape today is political. As a white settler on unceded indigenous territory, creating imagery of land must disassemble the canon of landscape imperialism that continues to support colonialism. In doing so, my aim is to explore my condition as a white settler living on unceded territory to deconstruct my colonial understanding of land through my artwork.

Luke was raised in Calgary, AB where his interest in landscape was first inspired by experiencing the dynamic human interventions that are encroaching on the foothills, mountains, and prairies of Southern Alberta. He completed his undergraduate degree in visual arts at the University of Victoria in 2016. Luke has shown in Victoria, Halifax, Denmark, and Finland. Luke is a Canadian settler of European descent currently residing on the unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people, K’jipuktuk, Mi’kma’ki – Halifax, NS where he is an MFA candidate at NSCAD.