The act of making a photograph is not all that different from the act performed by the surveyors. Both are essentially visual; both impose a frame around something that has no clear boundaries of its own. In some respects, making these photographs was a kind of reenactment, a way of knowing what it must have been like to lay a straight line down over a vast plain. Only, in my case, and from my vantage point in time, the intention is to reimagine what lies beneath the grid. If the square, as employed in the surveys of public lands, could function like a telescope, framing smaller and smaller sections of the plains, it can also be used as a window, equilaterally divided by the horizon, that begins with a finite section of earth and sky and restores them in the imagination to the vastness that now can only exist as an idea: the landscape contained within the perfect symmetry of the square implies infinity.
Introduction from Deal's publication, West and West: Reimagining the Great Plains
Working slowly, in oil on board, Rhodes depicts 'functional' landscapes manipulated by human activity - industry, landscaping, transport and quarrying. These terrains are distilled from imagined, observed and photographed views, with high viewpoints suggesting clarity and logic yet also unreality and disorientation. Recalling a range of art-historical precedents from early Netherlandish pictures to Indian miniatures, these paintings have an intensity and metaphoric richness that belies their apparent reserve.
Courtesy of National Galleries Scotland
"I'm just drawn to those in-between places. They are like non-places, backs of buildings, ground that's been grown over, often formed by accident. They have no history. It's as if all the movement and action has taken place within the last few hours. So much of our landscape is invisible. When we do look at it we think it's ugly, if we consider it at all!"
Interviewed by Ann Donald for The Herald, Scotland