Tonalist Landscapes by Ben Bauer

May 27, 2020  21:28  |  News

Tonalist Landscapes by Ben Bauer

Ben Bauer “Afternoon at Baha’i Honda State Park Florida Keys” ©

Today, perhaps more than ever, as many of us are limiting our exposure to the outdoors, we can reflect and consider our relationship with nature… as the old adage goes, “absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

On May 18th, 2020, Rehs Contemporary opened a digital exhibition of work by tonalist landscape painter Ben Bauer, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting Belwin Conservancy in Minnesota.

A love for the outdoors was instilled in Bauer from a young age. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota, he grew up in a family that enjoyed weekends in the countryside, giving him an intimate perspective of the changing of seasons; a gradual unfolding of tonal shifts over time. His experiences in those formative years were greatly influential – in addition to his family experience, school trips to places like Belwin Conservancy were significant in Bauer’s understanding of nature. It was this sincere connection to the natural world that led a young Bauer to begin drawing, initially wildlife before moving into landscapes.

As our communities have continued to develop around the world, we have sacrificed so much – our air, our water, and our land, not to mention the wildlife that relies on each. Bauer is acutely aware of how quickly our ecosystems can be damaged or completely destroyed, and how easily that loss can be justified under the guise of economic progress. A primary objective, through his artwork, is the preservation of these landscapes, whether it is a prairie restoration or the creation of land stewardship trust to protect existing farmland from development. It is this profound awareness of the land that allows Bauer’s paintings to capture a strong sense of place and atmosphere; as he says, “that is the role of the painter, bringing us there.”

Tonalist Landscapes by Ben Bauer

Ben Bauer “Moonrise in Lowry, MN” ©

While Bauer has gone on to explore an array of locations through his work, views of the Midwest resonate strongest, from snow-blanketed hillsides to luscious nocturne farmlands. He notes, “farmers are some of the hardest working and most devoted people… that sincere devotion to making a living is very inspiring, and using their livelihood is a great way to pay reverence to that.” Bauer simply has this way of invigorating a rather unremarkable subject matter; the cool tones and use of contrast create an excitable, yet peaceful aura to the work, while somehow conveying a crispness in the air – a serene chill.

But it is more than just creating something interesting to look at… his work has a way of elevating the ordinary into something truly meaningful. They sit as a stark reminder of what we lose when we measure progress in the number of skyscrapers on the horizon, and not how blue the sky is or how clean our water is.

Bauer hopes his viewers will consider the impact they have on the natural world, and the ways in which they can create positive change for the future.


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