Dusti Bongé landscape shows path toward abstraction

A Dusti Bongé landscape takes the spotlight this week in See Great Art’s partnership with the Dusti Bongé Art Foundation. Landscape has always been my favorite genre in art. I respond to nature. I “get” nature. From the Impressionists to contemporary art, landscapes move me as visual representations of nature, which moves me.

Dusti Bongé landscape, Untitled (Landscape)​, 1938, pastel on paper, 10” x 15 ½”

A few weeks ago, we shared a minimalist work by Dusti Bongé from the 1970s that reflected her memory of “Socca’s Farm,” the pine tree farm her father O.J. Swetman owned. Here we have a very different landscape, and from a very different time. 

This work is from her early days when she constantly drew and painted everything she observed, as she was developing her unique style. Here she captures a landscape that is not just purely pine trees, but is rather the lush kind of environment that you find in the woods in this region.

Dusti, in fact, loved going on hiking trails, such as the Tuxachanie trail in the DeSoto National Forest. She fully appreciated the incredibly rich visual array of colors and textures nature had to offer. The trail offered (and still does) a variety of vegetation and landscape conditions such savannas, swamps, creeks, oak trees, pine trees, pitcher plants, palmettos and even wild orchids. She drank it all in.

This drawing captures the riches of this wild landscape with its vibrant green and golden hues. Unlike the minimalism from her 1970s piece, this work of course offers a more realist representation of her surroundings. And yet, you can already see a degree of abstraction occurring. The various shades of green foliage are rendered in broad swatches. There are just a few black lines indicating actual trunks or branches or ground swells. So, even in this early work you can see that she hones in on the feeling or quality of the landscape, finding her own way of representing its vibrancy and its richness.

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