‘Burnt Village With Northern Lights’ is a monumental romantic landscape painting by Ged Quinn. Rendered in fluid layers of oil on linen, the painting is part of a new group of paintings that embody a decisive shift in the artist’s practice towards a more expressive and poetic style. Pairing large-scale landscapes with smaller portraits and intimate pastoral scenes, this body of work presents a monodrama centred on the feelings of an isolated wanderer. Inspired by English Romantic poet William Wordsworth and German lyric poet Wilhelm Müller’s ‘Winter Journey’, these paintings present nature as a mysterious, anthropomorphic teacher that engages the protagonist in a dialogue of self-discovery.
In this body of work we follow the wanderer through a majestic and ethereal landscape, a snowy village and a coal burner’s hut. While making footprints in the snow, he moves in a hypnotic daze and dreams of spring in winter. ‘Burnt Village With Northern Lights’ presents an imaginary scene that relates to a rare series of watercolours by Albrecht Dürer and the landscape around Nuremberg, Germany. In the background a mountain range soars towards a pale sky, granting the painting a dreamlike quality and revealing the influence of Carl Jung’s partly autobiographical ‘confrontations with the subconscious’ in his book, ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’ (1962). Combining references to the beauty of nature with suggestions of an unsettled psyche, the painting reflects the perspective of Quinn’s protagonist, exhausted by the extremes of nature.