Technology drives us onwards and upwards, pushing the boundaries of what can be created and how it can be produced. The arts, too, have been opened up to a variety of new and unprecedented possibilities, but while we’re continually in awe of technological progress being made, nature will always be our constant - always our comfort and always our spring of inspiration. And among the computer generated images and flashing lights of installations, there is still art to be marvelled at that is all about nature.
Gael Nagle is a batik artist who works with 100% cotton sateen, 100% beeswax, and procion dyes. Her work blossoms with an almost unimaginable splendor of colour, which is inspired by her surroundings in the forests of Oregon. While brilliantly re-envisioning her breathtaking environment, Gael is also highly influenced by impressionist painters, and her colour palate is something to rival the great masters’. But while Renoir and Monet were demure in their works, the artist’s batiks are bold and powerful even while depicting gentle and idyllic scenes of serenity like a plum blossom-covered hillside or a garden of sunflowers.
Unpretentious and comforting, the artist’s batiks are a unique combination of classic art topics and traditional methods. Foregoing the paint, batiks are created by the applying wax to canvas and dying the canvas multiple times, colour by colour. Batik itself has a long history within various countries like India, Malaysia, Singapore and China. The majority of batik work that is most often seen are textile patterns, but Gael has infused this historical practice with a modern flair and creates nature scenes that capture the pure magic of the world around us.
It’s hard to be impressed by art depicting trees and mountains these days. Our rapidly modernising world forces the envelope to be pushed at every turn, for art to go into the provocative and abstract. We want to be shocked, and yet there’s nothing more shocking than rediscovering our simple, connected, and infinitely complex natural world. Gael’s modern batiks are alive with emotion and life; they give credence to raw materials wielded by our (her) hands, and portray the world in its best version of itself. Mesmerising, there’s no choice but to trace the folds of the tree bark with our eyes, or try to dip our fingers into the lakes she creates to see the water dance and sparkle with turquoise and pink.
Back to the basics? Not quite. Getting lost in the details of the artist’s work reveal an immense and masterful technique: patience, concentration, and still a sense of daring. The use of almost garish colours like fuscia and persimmon in the later pieces are in stark contrast both to her earlier works as well as to the composure of the batikes, but it brings out the soul of the scene, making its energy palpable. The artist creates the world we wish we could live in, and the one we sometimes believe we do. In Gael’s bold landscapes, we are home.