John Nash: Autumn Landscape


It was the time of year, the time of day, for a small insistent sadness to pass into the texture of things. Dusk, silence, iron chill. Something lonely in the bone.
Don DeLillo, White Noise

John Nash has always been lost in the shadow of his much more famous and revered brother Paul Nash. I prefer John’s work myself. As impressive as Paul Nash’s World War 1 paintings are, he kind of lost his way in the subsequent decades, plagued by ill-health, depression and money worries,  while ill-advisedly dabbling in surrealism.  John never deviated. He just painted the English countryside, the one he’d fought in World War 1 to preserve, and all his paintings are full of thoughtful melancholy and and a muted elegiac quality, as if he doubted that all which had been sacrificed to preserve would endure against the dread march of “progress.” I feel much the same way about the state of things today. While back up north recently, I visited many places I knew well, but they’ve been changed almost beyond recognition, and many that haven’t have been fenced off and ringed with CCTV cameras and health and safety notices. As Orwell warned, “the streamlined men are coming”, and the bastards are unstoppable, so while I may be romanticising the past I will do it while I still can.


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