GOTHIC LANDSCAPEWE EXPLORE THE DRIVING FORCE BEHIND THIS SOMBER AND SOMETIMES SURREAL IMAGERY When thinking about Gothic styles certain images spring to mind. Many works are saturated with familiar, sometimes excessive horror iconography, with themes including ravens, ghoulish models, religious ciphers and so on. However, when referring to Gothic landscapes the focus shifts to haunting visages and suspended disbelief, relating more to Neosurrealism than strict macabre. This approach, while adding modern influences, draws from traditional Gothic reflections on the sublime in nature and humanity s place within it. These themes coincide with some artists’unintentional application of the style. Illustrator Darek Kocurek admits: elements for Gothic styles [often] appear, which makes my work more or less Gothic. This effect is however completely unintended, accidental almost." However accidental, Kocureks Gothic undertones are clear. He reveals the sources driving his style:  This Gothic subculture draws inspiration from the works of writers such as Poe and Lovecraft. They assumed the existence of two worlds in their works; the real world that accompanies us every day [and] the one beyond our understanding full of the incomprehensible, the mysterious and above all dark. Such are my Gothic illustrations." Artist Phil McKay also shares a similar sensibility in his work. He tells us: "Music and reading influences me a lot. helping me produce atmospheric and mysteriously surreal landscapes that are desolate." He adds: don t have to involve macabre to create a Gothic image though. My own artwork has sombre moods and atmospheres, which donhave any macabre themes at all.’ For such Gothic works to be successful, McKay believes all you need is to portray an open space, a lone figure and include a colour scheme to enhance an entirely evocative atmosphere. But to obtain commercial success producing art prints. CD and book covers, your artwork must be novel. Kocurek uses his Old Watchtower work (below left) to reinforce this opinion. Instead of throwing down the usual old castle or tower he created an original, monumental building. He explains: "The working style has to be perfectly executed but you also have to make it original. It s very important for a client seeking Gothic works to omit numerous other examples and stop at your work.”

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