Love Song for the End of the World
In the latest cycle of paintings, Niebuhr turns his eye outward beyond his familiar cityscapes and specific landscapes and turns it to the broader planet.
These latest works on paper are in part a response to a kind of helplessness at the
forces at work in the world.
Taking his initial cue from a video clip of a glacier the size of Manhattan breaking off in Western Greenland and falling into the sea, Niebuhr has produced landscapes, skyscapes and seascapes in oils on paper which describe a kind of twilight zone; an in-between place and space between nightfall and night, between land and sea, between land and sky. A closer engagement with the work reveal another chord which talks of loss and the inevitable letting go of life as we know it.
Niebuhr relies on a range of titles which are chosen as the works are completed to evoke the space. Titles such as "when the land goes under the water" or " the day the night came" are overlaid onto traditional landscapes to set up a lens through with the works are to be viewed.
The love song is from one person to the Earth. From a species to its home, from a child to its parent. It holds the sadness of parting, the recognition of a trajectory which has us colliding headlong with oblivion. It also speaks of the steadiness of a gaze looking onto the inevitable parting of humans from their home , a home which we are successfully erasing ourselves from.
Of these latest works Niebuhr has this to say, “These works are not an attempt to create an activism around environmental issues per se, but rather a poet's lament at the loss of a relationship. It's the parents lament at the passage of time, the child's accountability with aging. They are neither literal warnings, admonishments or necessarily calls to action. These works are not trying to be evocations of a post apocalyptic landscape but rather they are an attempt to describe the tender bond that exists between things (in this case mankind and her home) at the moment of realization that an ending is inevitable. And as this terrible beauty is born, as the waters rise, it does so with a sorrow that is given us to witness."