The paintings by Jim Darling evoke the wanderlust in all of us. It infiltrates the part of our souls that desires exploration and new things by using a symbol synonymous with adventure: the airplane window. These paintings allow the viewer to place him or herself in the window seat, pressing their noses against the glass to see the world we walk on from all new perspectives. This is the feeling Darling captures in is works; that awe inspiring moment of lift off and soaring high above our world.
These paintings, aside from the structure of the window, do not employ hyper-realism, creating an interesting contrast between the reality of the physical plane and the wonderment of the world below. They are are not acutely defined landscapes outside the window, but rather a more impressionistic, and at times abstract wonderland. This method adds to the awe invoked by viewing these paintings and lends a necessary ambiguity to what is happening outside the window.
The window functions as an aperture, cropping the expanse of the earth into one small portal—an ever changing one at that. It allows for the viewer to recall and place themselves over their own memorable landscape in whatever country, city, or ocean they happened to have flown over.
Color usage indicates the topography to conjure rolling hills or oceans, but it remains suggestive rather than explicit. The arbitrary color use lends to the fantasy quality of these works. Warm pinks and soft blues mix and mingle with other muted and nostalgic colors to further propel the indistinctness of the space below. These colors recall memory and feeling rather than geographical logic or coordinates.
The compositions are also strategically regular in that the window—the frame within the frame—always sits central on the canvas. The shade is always drawn to the same height and there is little variation of color related to the interior space. The regularity intentionally defines the interior of any plane without partiality to one airline or another.
Even when a wing is present in the unfolding image outside the window, it is unmarked and neutral, calling a connection between the interior and the plane as a whole. The apparatus becomes secondary to the view that lies outside of it. This leaves the landscapes below as the central point of intrigue, so that the viewer’s focus remains on the earth painted outside the window, while still getting a true sense of place and perspective of being inside the plane.
These paintings call to our spiritual need to explore and experience new things. There is a timelessness attached to this feeling, but Darling has propelled this feeling into our modern age, giving it a distinct place in our lives, by using this modern form of transportation as a vessel to portray it. There is the art historical relevance in painting a landscape, but also an inherent modernity in the portrayal of an airplane in soft hues and arbitrary color. His paintings are indicative of peaceful yet awe-inspiring moments found only at a few thousand miles above the ground.