The painter and sculptor Alan Crump had an unusual vision of the South African landscape. He chose, for example, to paint scenes that were unlikely as landscape subject matter: excavations, digs, quarries, mine-workings, railway cuttings, slimes dams, and dumps. His landscapes have “many layers, inner and outer skins.” Often they are landscapes that have been “scarred” by human activity: the cutting and delving of machines into the earth, the transformation of the surface of the land into holes, quarries, tunnels, or mines.
Interestingly, although the evidence of human activity in these landscapes is, perhaps, the chief subject of the paintings, his landscapes almost never include human figures.
Crump cared profoundly about what we are doing to our planet, so much of it destructive in small and large ways. But he took great pleasure in the earth’s sheer beauty, both on its surface and below. We experience this pleasure simply by looking at his paintings: they explore the visual richness of his subject in beautiful and luminous colours, textures, and patterns. They appear to intensify and push those colours, patterns and textures, far beyond the ordinary.
He painted mainly in watercolour. But, for watercolours, they were unusual in two ways: they were firstly very large; and second, the colour was intense, the paint layered and dense.