Richard Konecky

Landscape Distilled 

Landscape photography is a broad genre. At one end of the spectrum one encounters the tradition of a realistically depicted landscape, for example, the monumental grandeur of Ansel Adams’ black and white images where the image is both of a particular place and an artistic rendering of light, shadow, and form. At the other end of the spectrum photographers find inspiration in nature to create images that move beyond the actual landscape to find its own compositional and emotional content sometimes divorced from a particular location. The actual landscape serves as the inspiration and starting point for a more abstract imagery of colour and undulating shapes and forms.


In the words of Paul Klee, “The intention is not to reflect the visible but to make visible.” The act of making visible, in this instance, is to delve into the reflected landscape and distil it to its very basic lines and shapes. By looking deeply, the reflected landscape becomes something else entirely. 


This is what Richard Konecky sought to achieve in his landscapes of northern Kenya. At first glance, some will strike you as richly woven tapestries, soft and flowing watercolours or sensual abstractions with a painterly quality. Others might strike you as bolder, more colourful pieces of landscape, visual shards or sound bites. These images seek to change the way the landscape is seen and to strike an emotional chord.


In his landscape photography Konecky draws on a number of sources for inspiration - the abstract geometry of Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park paintings and the pure abstraction of monochromatic line in the paintings of Franz Kline; the flowing colour of traditional Japanese woodblock printers and water colourists like Hiroshige and contemporary photographers such as Edward Burtinski or David Burdeny. He has also had a longstanding interest in and passion for macro photography and the way it changes the reality of what you see. The deeper one delves into an object, the more it becomes something else: distilled form, light, shadow and shape.


All photos were taken in northern Kenya in mid 2018. Konecky had taken his first aerial photographs during an earlier project in Iceland and was struck by the changed perspective and geometry of the landscape seen from the air. Though he had never been to Africa, when the opportunity came along to spend a week doing aerial photography by helicopter in remote northern Kenya, he jumped in wholeheartedly. Unlike many, his enthusiasm and interest in going to Kenya was not to photograph the amazing wildlife in the region or even the various tribes and their rituals. He wanted to focus on the incredibly diverse and remote, largely inaccessible landscape and to photograph it from above - desert savannahs, sand dunes, volcanic fields, lakes and lush alpine vistas, from sea level to Mt Kenya at 16,500’ elevation, from the amazing Rift Valley to the meandering rivers and dry riverbeds in the Chalbi desert, to the enormous Lake Turkana.