Contamination – Environmental Art

Most of my paintings and drawings deal with deep personal themes, and for the most part have a psychological context. It is not often I ste...

Most of my paintings and drawings deal with deep personal themes, and for the most part have a psychological context. It is not often I step out of my focus to explore broader social issues. But, I felt a need to tackle something with this abstract artwork that we all can relate to, pollution of the environment

The painting below can be called a type of environmental art.

Typically, environmental art deals with themes of nature, and the pollution and depletion of the natural environment. Artists such as Robert Smithson brought awareness to the environmental issue by actually making changes to the environment (Spiral Jetty). Other artists used recyclables and garbage to construct sculptures.

Although, the abstract painting below doesn’t use any of these, it is still called environmental art because of its theme.

The painting is called “Contamination” and deals with the pollution issue, but it’s main purpose is to bring environmental awareness.

There are many serious problems that we as a human race face regards to the misuse of the world that we live in. The ozone layer is disappearing rapidly, causing the polar icecaps to melt.

Just last summer, Newfoundland felt the affect of the melting of glaciers. A huge 97 square mile chunk of ice from Greenland broke away. As it drifted southerly, it broke into thousands of smaller icebergs. The bays here in this province were literally filled with icebergs of all shapes and sizes for most of last summer.

I have even completed paintings of some of these icebergs, which you may see here:

Icebergia Triptych – Abstract Realism Painting

Other ecological issues include hazardous waste dumped into oceans, toxic chemicals and garbage in landfills, and cities being overrun by smog. This is causing huge changes in the ecosystem on a global scale. Whole species are being wiped out, others becoming endangered.

The question is, what shall we as a race do about this catastrophe?

Some steps that are already being taken are recycling programs and cleaning of the smoke from factory emissions.

Contamination – Abstract Art about the Environment

Environmental Abstract Art
Oil on Canvas
By Graham Matthews

The oil painting above, entitled “Contamination” is based on that specific issue of factory emissions.

I painted this in 1997, during my art college years. The underlying sketch depicted a scene of Corner Brook, Newfoundland, with the Pulp and Paper mill in the background and the Sir Richard Squire’s Building on the right. The factory continually spews smoke into the air, and is admittedly cleaner than it once was, since the smoke now goes through a filtering process to remove hazardous materials.

But, the fact remains that the damage is already done from years of continually spewing smoke into the Corner Brook skies. Many have developed health problems from it.

We as a human race need to work together to make our world a better, cleaner place. Small things like throwing recyclables in recycling bins, and not letting our vehicles idle too much, can really make a difference.

What opinions do you have on this issue? Do you have any questions about my artwork?



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Graham Matthews: Contamination – Environmental Art
Contamination – Environmental Art
Graham Matthews
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