The Daily Tar Heel

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Friday April 23rd

Landscape painter speaks at Hanes Art Center about the American aesthetic

Marc Handelman is a man of many talents, drawing in viewers with his unique portrayal of landscape paintings.  With experience in visual art, installation, books, film and photography, the artist spoke at the Visiting Artist Lecture Series at Hanes Arts Center on Tuesday.

Handelman said many of his paintings draw on American aesthetics, many of which are rooted in 19th-century American landscape painting. His work explores how forms of rhetoric in landscape and nature appear in today’s art and politics. 

“I’ve been thinking about landscape for about 15 years,” Handelman said. “In graduate school, I was making work about how painting can speak to forms of objective violence in things like ideology, racism and imperialism. I was interested in how functions of aesthetic pleasure operate.”

Associate Professor of Art Sabine Gruffat has great respect for Handelman and was excited to have him speak at the center.  

“Handelman is a very achieved painter and is very well-respected in the arts,” Gruffat said. “He is so invested in his work, and I think his art has a very different importance to everyone.”

Gruffat said Handelman paints in a unique way — deeply absorbed, slowly and meticulously. 

“He is highly conceptual, so he does a lot of research into the idea of civilization and ruins,” Gruffat said. “He is especially interested in landscape painting.”

Gruffat said Handelman’s investment in his work will provide students at the Visiting Artist Lecture Series with the potential of obtaining a new way of thinking or a new way to see the world.

“Art has a different logic than other things,” Gruffat said. “It is a way of thinking that is very outside of pre-established norms.”

Sophomore Sophia Ong and senior Gillian Manning attended the Visiting Artist Lecture Series for one of their art classes.

“I thought it was interesting to see the different ways he would interpret the art and take the newer political messages and put them in his own work and change the meaning,” Manning said. 

Ong said Handelman spoke about landscape in art and how it's changed throughout the years, as well as how nature in art can be used to neutralize political messages. 

“I found it really cool that he took people’s advertisements and combined them into art,” Ong said. “That is something I have never seen before.” 

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