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Measuring Land and Sea

Measuring Land and Sea’ continues Oliver Jeffers investigation into the philosophical impasse at which art and science often find themselves. One is by nature subjective, while the other is defined by the pursuit of objectivity. Yet, both express two very human characteristics- feeling and reasoning.  

For this show Jeffers has combined classical landscape / seascape painting with technical measurements. He presents the viewer with two modes of representation, one artistic and one scientific. 

But rather than increase our understanding, this combination makes things less clear, by, on the one hand, providing superfluous distraction, while, on the other, highlighting the boundaries of perceived knowledge. And so, Jeffers points to two underlying obstacles of human cognition, the tendency to overthink and the inability to fully comprehend. 

In his landscapes, Jeffers complicates each scene by inserting additional information where it is not needed. Atop serene terrains, he has carefully measured and marked the angles of the gradients that occur in the image. While factual, this information is extraneous, and with it, Jeffers mirrors the muddying effect of the human inclination to overthink and overcomplicate.

Conversely, his seascapes comment on the limits of human capacity for comprehension. 

In these paintings Jeffers has superimposed numbers that mark the depth of the ocean in fathoms, a now redundant system for measuring depth. As his various depictions of ocean swell suggest, the surface of the sea is not flat but in constant motion, forever changing. Moreover, what lies beneath the surface is a notoriously uncharted frontier, hence these paintings speak of the futility of trying to measure, with potentially inadequate means, the immeasurable vastness of our universe.


20th Nov to 23rd Dec 15
11 Rathbone PlaceLondon, W1T 1HR

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