Wayne Thiebaud: Memory Mountains

Wayne Thiebaud, Big Rock Mountain, 2004-12, oil on canvas, 54 x 54 inches (court
Wayne Thiebaud, Big Rock Mountain, 2004-12, oil on canvas, 54 x 54 inches (courtesy of Paul Thiebaud Gallery)

John Seed interviews painter Wayne Thiebaud on the occasion of the exhibition Wayne Thiebaud: Memory Mountains at Paul Thiebaud Gallery, San Francisco, on view through December 21, 2013.

Discussing the theme of the show, Thiebaud comments; "There was the sort of opposite aspect of venerating them and having them be spiritual sources. That extreme -- from the sublime to the silly -- was something that interested me. One was the idea of humor: how I can find a seriousness in mountains -- which can be as sublime an idea as anything -- but then go all the way to a kind of silliness or ridiculousness. I find it ridiculous how we name them: oh, things like 'The Devil's Woodpile.' ... Another idea was the idea of position of mountains. We mostly see them -- and almost have to see them -- from afar, unless we are walking in them or hiking in them or driving in them. There is this tendency to see mountains pretty much in the distance and I just wondered what would happen if you tried to get them as close as possible. It seems that they are almost coming to overwhelm you: or that they seem somewhat ominous in their character."