Alisa Le
sol 23,Conrad Jon Godly,2013, 75x60 cm, oil on canvas
sol 23,Conrad Jon Godly,2013, 75x60 cm, oil on canvas

Taking a step back to look at these paintings almost looks real, as if I’m standing in front of the Swiss Alps. But taking a step forward, I am confronted by large thick brush strokes of wet-looking paint. I’m fascinated by these colossal mountainous paintings that seem effortlessly painted by Conrad Jon Godly. This Swiss artist has an impeccable style of bringing realism into his work by depicting textured mountain paintings with large globs and swipes of paint. Godly’s thick appliance of paint not only creates a two-dimensional painting, but a three-dimensional one as well. The bumps and grooves of the paint create textured surfaces on the canvas. From up close, the painting is merely a painting; but up close, the impressive image of a mountain appears before your eyes.
external image aa-conradjongodly.jpg


Born in Davos, Switzerland, Godly studied as a painter at the Basel School of Art from 1982 until 1986. From there, he worked for 18 years as a professional photographer and spent his career capturing the latest fashions for well-known magazines. However, he felt a need for a shift in career and decided to return to his fine art roots, painting. He left his role as a photographer in 2006 to seek solace in the mountains of Chur, Switzerland (1). During his long walks along the Swiss Alps, he took photos with his camera to study the mountainous ranges (3).
According to Godly, the mountains represent power, spirituality, and imperishable magnificence. This contrasted his previous concentration of the transient beauty of the fashion world. To capture the mountains, he employed brushed oils and turpentine into a thick impasto to create physical and perceptual depth in his work. The texture of his strokes created images that mimicked the rocks of the mountains and abstracted landscapes (1). In my interview with him, he mentioned that he works very quickly and that he usually finishes a painting within a day, including larger formats. With the thick paint he uses, the painting will never fully dry.

Onda Studies & Chinese Landscape Paintings
onda - study, Conrad Jon Godly
onda - study, Conrad Jon Godly
onda - study, Conrad Jon Godly
onda - study, Conrad Jon Godly

Travelers by Streams and Mountains, Fan Kuan
Travelers by Streams and Mountains, Fan Kuan
According to art historian and critic Yuji Yamashita, Godly’s mountain paintings are reminiscent of sansui oil paintings, a Chinese-style landscape painting, one example being Fan Kuan’s Travelers by Streams and Mountains (2). According to Godly, mountains represent power and authority. China’s natural landscape also plays an important role in shaping the Chinese mind and character. The Chinese had viewed mountains as sacred and the abode of immortals (4).
The way these artists decide to depict the subject is a common theme in styles. They both utilize the background of the surface they’re working on to illustrate subjects, such as the dimension of the ocean waves, snowy Swiss Alps, and the mountains lodged between China’s two great rivers.
Godly illustrates ocean waves using mainly two paints in his onda studies, different hues of blue for the background and a thick white oil paint. He manipulates the whites to create the crests and the blues in the background to create troughs of the waves. When looked closely, Godly uses a hint of a darker value of the background color to create even more dimension, creating shape. Godly’s use of a minimal palette is similar to that of Chinese landscape paintings, which only uses ink.
sol 1, Conrad Jon Godly
sol 1, Conrad Jon Godly
sol 4, Conrad Jon Godly
sol 4, Conrad Jon Godly
In sol 1, the background bleeds into the mountain range. Godly creates a gap between the two mountain clusters, only to have them create one larger and grander structure. In sol 4, the mountain contains very much of a slightly darker value of the background color, but it is only divided by a thin rift of white to demonstrate snow.

In F
an Kuan’s Travelers by Streams and Mountains, Kuan uses ink to bring out details of the mountains. To model the mountains, Kuan uses dots and ink wash. He outlines the shape of the
mountains and creates a gradient from within, similar to Godly’s rift of white paint in sol 4. As the gradient of the ink fades, Kuan creates space and distance by having a gap between the background, middleground, and foreground. However, Godly says he does not work under the influence of artists but has a deep love for Japanese culture.


Manetpulation of Paint

False Heroes 3, Conrad Jon Godly
False Heroes 3, Conrad Jon Godly

sol II, Conrad Jon Godly
sol II, Conrad Jon Godly
False Heroes 3 is a new painting by Godly which is quite different from his older work. Godly says he sees “painting as a process and repetition is stagnation. That’s why I started something new.”

Edouard Manet’s technique strays away from traditional painting by using the paints not only as a medium, but as the subject. As seen in The Bullfight, Manet uses paint in its rawest form, appropriate for a bullfight which is barbaric like the raw paint. His works look as if he squeezed a tube of paint out directly onto the canvas and maneuvered it around on the canvas with a brush or spatula. In fact, Manet used a technique called alla prima or wet-on-wet where layers of wet paint are applied and previously administered layers of wet paint (5). The paints on his works do not look fully mixed as there are still some traces of raw paint left. The paint in the mixture
isn’t smoothed out and evenly
The Bullfight, Edouard Manet
The Bullfight, Edouard Manet

distributed; it is rough and aggressive. In my interview with Mr. Godly himself, he says he works with oil paint wet-on-wet.
From observation, Godly first applies a layer of wet gray blue paint in sol II. Then, he applies black paint to create the ridges of a mountain. While the paint is wet, Godly uses a brush to allow for the black paint to bleed into the gay blue paint. In false heroes 3, the traces of unmixed paint and lingering reds and browns are also seen Godly’s bull. The strokes of paint and incomplete mixed paints are obvious in both Manet’s and Godly’s works. The reason why Godly uses this technique may be for aesthetics or purely to be minimal. There is something so satisfying in creating an image with a couple simple swipes of paint‒and you’re done! Here, Manet is stepping away from traditional art styles and the French Salon with loose handling of paint.

Simply Colors and Dreamlike Paint Strokes

credo IV, Conrad Jon Godly
credo IV, Conrad Jon Godly

Norham Castle Sunrise, J.M.W. Turner
Norham Castle Sunrise, J.M.W. Turner
Turner, an English Romanticist landscape painter, was known for elevating landscape painting. Turner focused more on the color than the details of the actual topography. As years went by, Turner paid less and less attention to detail and used oil paint in a translucent manner, similar to the effect of watercolor (6). Instead, he became fascinated with natural and atmospheric elements and paid attention to the effects of light and color (7).
In Godly’s earlier works, he uses wispy paint strokes to imitate the clouds in the sky. His earlier works remind me of Turner’s blurry marks in Norham Castle Sunrise. Both use soft and translucent colors to almost depict a dream. Both works feel weightless as there are no harsh brushstrokes nor thick appliances of paint. They’re able to render a scene using simple airy brush strokes that bleed and fade into each other seamlessly.

Paint on Paint on Paint

Queen of Hearts, Willem de Kooning
Queen of Hearts, Willem de Kooning

spes 7, Conrad Jon Godly
spes 7, Conrad Jon Godly

Willem de Kooning, known for abstract expressionism and action painting, pioneered a technique in which he created encrusted surfaces of paint from building and scraping paint off his canvases, most notably in Woman. The gritty texture of the work and mix of granular materials into inexpensive commercial paints are what makes up a de Kooning. He manipulates paints of vastly different consistencies, applying them with a combination of brushes, palette knives, and scrapers to produce textures to accentuate the details of the subject (8). Although I do not have a cross section of a work from Godly, I can imagine the technique and multiple applications of paint going into his works. Godly definitely creates his own textures from using large amounts of paint and spreading it across the canvas, like de Kooning.




(1) __http://www.cubebreaker.com/mountain-paintings-conrad-jon-godly/__
(2) __https://www.shibunkaku.co.jp/english/art/conrad_jon_godly/__
(3) __http://www.missmoss.co.za/2014/05/21/conrad-jon-godly/__
(4) __https://www.khanacademy.org

/humanities/ap-art-history/south-east-se-asia/china-art/a/neo-confucianism-fan-kuan-travelers-by-streams-and-mountains__
(5) __http://www.artble.com/artists/edouard_manet__
(6) __http://www.artble.com/artists/joseph_mallord_william_turner__
(7) __https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/becoming-modern/romanticism/england-constable-turner/a/who-is-jmw-turner__
(8) __https://hirshhorn.si.edu/collection/conservation/#detail=/bio/willem-de-kooning-methods-materials/__