Boston-based artist Cobi Moules’s paintings of landscapes, created from his own travels across the United States, honor the traditions of the Great American Landscape as envisioned by the Hudson River School painters while at the same time recognizing some diminishment of those landscapes brought about by modern accessibility. Moules’s landscapes are no less gorgeous than those of his Hudson River forebears, but they are no longer the wild, unexplored frontiers of the nineteenth century. These landscapes, like the busy national parks and recreation areas they depict, are heavily populated — by the artist himself — each scene full of climbing, frolicking, adventurous self-portraits in identical dress.
By placing multiples of himself in his landscapes, Moules manages to address both the irreverence of boy-scout troop hikes and the intense inner solitude of the only child at play in a landscape populated only by the characters in his head. While his group self-portraits are always playful, always at ease with one another and the landscape, we can’t help but remember that he is, in fact, alone in the landscape.
“I see a number of ideological links between their [Hudson River School] works and a specific current American Christian culture that was an integral part of my formative years; particularly in regards to ideas of purity and the honor of sacrificing one’s selfhood for the glory of God. As a queer and transgender person, I seek to renegotiate my relationship with this upbringing and the act of being told I am ‘unnatural’ through such a pointed Christian lens.”
Listen as Cobi discusses his artwork in the studio:
Images courtesy of Cobi Moules.