Through drawing on memory of place rather than photographic reference, Glenn Payan is able to craft wholly original visions of familiar landscapes, re-imagining them for their essential qualities. As a rock-climber and mountaineer in his 20’s he would spend time sketching out the peaks he planned to scale, mapping out the routes and rock holds as a form of documentation for other climbers. This indirect approach to art has led Payan to an established painting career, something he hadn’t set out to achieve but has since become the source of his passion, allowing him to remain close to the mountains without risking his neck.
Payan’s paintings are entirely devoid of human figures, their presence implied solely by the colour-saturated houses that populate the landscape – each with their own inviting personality while sharing structural similarities. These elongated houses, perhaps the most recognizable aspect of Payan’s work, were developed as an instructional tool for teaching his high school students how to illustrate with vanishing point perspective. The enthusiastic response to his joyful aesthetic have permitted him to devote all his energy to painting full-time, even resulting in the distinction of his art being chosen to grace the banners that line Vancouver’s iconic gallery row on Granville street.
The insulated little worlds that Glenn creates are fascinating for their capacity to reduce and caricaturize our human existence into a cheerful brand of homogeneous modesty. His paintings have an incredibly descriptive brand of surreal simplicity in which human presence is miniaturized – dwarfed by the majesty of a mountain in the distance and vastly outnumbered by the countless individually painted trees. Filtered through memory and emotion, Payan’s examination of spatial elements that strongly resonated with him at times result in a sense of operatic grandeur through his ability to render vast panoramas in his own unique detail.
Glenn Payans new show Roads Travelled opens at the Ian Tan Gallery October 5 and runs until the 24th.