Doug West: Mapping New Mexico — A 360-Degree View
The eloquent western writer Willa Cather once said, “The plain was there, under one’s feet, but what one saw when one looked about was that brilliant blue world of stinging air and moving cloud . . . the sky, the sky!” She could have been describing the paintings of Doug West, often featuring great expanses of dramatic signature skies above uncluttered landscapes, an eagle’s eye view of the Land of Enchantment.
West traveled some 1,500 miles earlier this year to photograph the most spectacular scenes New Mexico has to offer in a continuation of his love affair with a land he never tires of exploring. Using those photos as an inspiring visual prompt, West retreated to his Baja, California, studio where, as he says, “the magic happens.” The result is twelve large-scale oil paintings that epitomize New Mexico’s unique and compelling character, qualities he’s focused on in fine detail for over four decades since moving to Santa Fe in 1974.
New works such as Opus in C and Solace are outstanding examples of West’s ability to marry graphic design elements with fine-art painterly skills, shaping each composition into a majestic retelling of southwestern geography. In Opus, note how the artist’s placement of elements in diagonals across the canvas draw the eye rhythmically and evoke a sensation of motion within the landscape, while Solace adeptly portrays the feeling of solitude as a stately Spanish Bayonet stands sentinel above a lonely sweep of White Sands National Monument. West maps not only New Mexico’s topography, but the essence of what it is to be present beneath those grand skies, to stand before those endless panoramas.
One of Doug West’s paintings is featured by the U.S. Postal Service on a stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of New Mexico statehood and his work has been acquired by such prestigious institutions as the Smithsonian. His paintings, serigraphs, and monographs are held in numerous private and public collections worldwide.
New Mexico 360°, West’s upcoming one-man exhibition, opens October 9th and runs through October 24th.