Lar Cann sits in his studio

It is my understanding all painting is abstract.

At first reading this might seem a provocative remark but pause for reflection and a more balanced understanding of this semantic will be revealed. Consider the commonplace word ‘abstract’ in a situation other than painting and similes such as extract, deduct, or select are straightforward alternatives. To illustrate, the license given by the NRA to abstract water in times of drought or ‘An Abstract of the Factories Act’, the document posted in all places of employment. However superficially realistic a painting may seem, from the masters of 17th Century Dutch still-life to American photo-realism of the late 20th Century, it is the same manipulation of the formal elements of picture-making that are employed in promoting the illusion of space as in, say, Matisse's L'Escargot or the Gestural Expressionism of Jackson Pollock. Relationships of colour and tone, the use of aerial and linear perspective, treatment of surface and the like are common; it is all a matter of degree, a matter of just how much selecting goes on.

By extension, photography is equally abstract, whatever the subject and whatever the camera angle. Whether it is modern digital imagery or the old wet-film process it is still a question of illusion. The implied space is, in reality, no deeper than the paper it is printed on. A mixture of cerulean blue and titanium white has no more to do with the sky than the printed word ’table’ has with the real item of furniture. It is the context of its use that promotes belief in the parallel world of all art disciplines and the illusions of time, event and space. Of course, what is done with these formal elements simultaneously becomes the stuff of expression and emotion.

I regard my painting to be much closer to the natural world than is at first apparent. It is landscape-based, more precisely the hidden world of landscape revealed by anthropologic activity. It is heavily dependent on observation of natural colour relationships and of qualities of surface, to the point where they become the subject of the work. Reference to scale is deliberately avoided in order to allow these selected characteristics to predominate, mindful all the while the composition is defined by the edges of the picture plane.