Landscape Symbolism and the Two Paths Through Life

Presented by: Mike Levy

Date: Friday 19 August 2022
Time: 12–1pm
Location: Online via Zoom and in-person at the SCA Writer's Studio (Level 6, Michie Building)


Abstract

Early Netherlandish painters such as the Flemish artist Joachim Patinir (c. 1485-1524) created vast panoramic landscapes that were rich in symbolism. Natural landscape elements were invested with spiritual or moral meanings that merged into an emblematic vocabulary, ‘a visual language every bit as articulate as a developed literary language’ (Andrews, 1999).   

This presentation looks at the concept of the two paths through life as it is expressed through landscape imagery. It begins with a woodcut, then a painting in oil by Lorenzo Lotto. Thereafter it focuses on Patinir’s Landscape with Charon Crossing the River Styx (hereafter Charon). Falkenburg explains that towards the close of the Middle Ages the metaphor of the two paths emerged through a complex program of distinct but interrelated metaphors of the choice between the easy and the difficult paths through life. The broad, easy road leads to the seductive figure of vice, or hell; the narrow road to redemption is harder, up a steeper, rocky path, but leads to virtue, or paradise.   

Remarkably, half a millennium later, Charon was one of four masterpieces selected from the Prado Museum collection to be reinvented for a campaign on behalf of the World Wide Fund for Nature. The campaign, entitled “+1.5 degrees C Lo Cambia Todo” (1.5 degrees changes everything) formed part of the climate change summit held in Madrid in 2019. In the new version of Charon, landscape symbolism is used to convey a different message, again hinging on the metaphor of the choice between two paths. Seeing this distinction, or lack of it, in the landscape symbolism of the version of Charon for the climate summit is as significant now as it was originally 500 years ago, with the caveat that the meanings be applied to a world that is secular rather than sacred


Presenter

Mike Levy is a candidate in the PhD (Art History) program, focussing upon the world landscapes of Joachim Patinir. His supervisors are Dr Andrea Bubenik and Dr Paolo Magagnoli.


 

About Research Seminar and Workshop Series

 


School of Communication and Arts Research Seminar Series

The research seminar and workshop series occur each semester, each with a different topic and guest speaker from UQ or otherwise.

Friday, 12 August
12-1pm

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

Queering Dark Academic within a New Adult Fiction ContextShaun Stephen

Friday, 19 August
12-1pm

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

Landscape Symbolism and the Two Paths Through Life

Mike Levy

Friday, 16 September
12-1pm

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

We Are All Preppers Now: Doomsday preppers, climate activists and subcultures of imminent collapse.

Dr Tom Doig

Friday, 14 October
12-1pm

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

Questioning Criticism: Puzzles and Possibilities in the Art-form of Appreciation

Prof. Jason Jacobs

Dr Ted Nannicelli

Dr Elliot Logan

Dr Matthew Cipa

Friday, 4 November
3-5pm

SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

Discursive Disruption, Populist Communication and Democracy

Dr Elena Block

Friday, 2 December
1-2pm

Hybrid: Online via Zoom and in person at the
SCA Writer's Studio
(Level 6, Michie)

Play as research and pedagogical strategyDr Jasper van Vught (Utretcht University)

 

Venue

Online via Zoom and in-person at the SCA Writer's Studio (Level 6, Michie Building)