The railroad paintings involve the incorporation of two usually disparate aspects into a single painting; that is, the formal and the representational. There is involvement with amalgamating these two aspects into a harmonious whole, bringing about in a viewer two realms of emotion. One emotion, extrinsic to the work, is due to that which is depicted, the reaction coming about as it would if what is depicted were actually viewed in the world. The second, an emotion intrinsic to the painting, comes from the work itself, is due to the formal aspects and not from what is pictured. Giving rise to both of these emotions simultaneously is a concern of the work.


The substance of the railroad paintings exists on three levels. One level involves the depiction of mankind as a participant in nature rather than the dominator of it. This level is influenced by the monumental landscape style of the Northern Sung Dynasty of China (12 th. Century) which places man in monumental vistas of nature. In the railroad paintings the works of man become small and insignificant within natures overwhelming forces and vastness. The influence is also noted in that only the salient elements of perceptive significance are introduced into the painting.


A second level, which is more or less purely the artistic level, involves the formal aspects and other issues intrinsic to the work itself.


Another level in the work might be called a philosophical one. The trains in the paintings are no longer inanimate objects, but have become sentient beings, have become persons, moving through an empty expanse looking for some point of reference, without which, forlornness reigns; there is a feeling that the reference is attainable and just about to be realized.






All Works © Theodore Svenningsen