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If you drive, you”re going to find yourself staring through a windshield at some point, but you may not think much of the view. Especially if you”re stuck in traffic. In the rain. Artist Gregory Thielker, though, used this ordinary vantage point as inspiration for his series, Under the Unminding Sky, a series of oil paintings showing the view from the driver”s seat, over roads and intersections, under stoplights, and often with rainwater sluicing down the glass.

Route 7

<i>Route 7</i>

2006, oil on canvas

Logan Ramp

<i>Logan Ramp</i>

2005, oil on canvas

McGrath Highway

<i>McGrath Highway</i>

2006, oil on canvas

Under Mountain Road

<i>Under Mountain Road</i>

2007, oil on canvas

Low Road

<i>Low Road</i>

2006, oil on canvas

Trace

<i>Trace</i>

2008, oil on panel

Division

<i>Division</i>

2008, oil on panel

The paintings are remarkable in their photorealism blended with a more impressionistic style, creating the look of a landscape obscured by rain. The water droplets and streams are rendered with sharp precision, but farther off, the image becomes less clear, fading just as it would in real life. “Perspectives slip and compress, while shapes and colors merge into one another,” Thielker explains. This concept of blending, and of the fluid, sometimes deceptive quality of illusions, is also explored in the literal sense thanks to the medium of oil paint. Oils lend themselves beautifully to blending and layering, and the process of artmaking itself is all about creating and manipulating an image into an illusion.

Above and Below

<i>Above and Below</i>

2008, oil on panel

Through the Looking Glass

<i>Through the Looking Glass</i>

2008, oil on panel

Vortex

<i>Vortex</i>

2008, oil on canvas

Reveal

<i>Reveal</i>

2009, oil on linen

Complete Stop

<i>Complete Stop</i>

2008, oil on canvas

Revisited

<i>Revisited</i>

2010, oil on linen

Transference

<i>Transference</i>

2010, oil on linen

Until Now

<i>Until Now</i>

2010, oil on linen

Besides the technical mastery of the work, which involves not only creating a realistic-looking landscape, but distorting so that it appears as though you”re viewing it through wet glass, Thielker also uses the images to explore deeper meanings. “These paintings reflect my interest in the way that the road delineates and controls how we experience landscape,” he says. “From the roadway perspective, we not only travel from one place to another, we see landscape in a varied and complex manner. I use water on the windshield to create a shifting lens for the way we see the environment: it both highlights and obscures our viewing.” As the window that allows a driver to navigate and make it from one place to another, the views shown in the paintings take on a deeper meaning of making sense of a limited perspective.

Thielker also tackles other subjects in the same style, and you can find the rest of his work on his website.

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