4 C-Type prints on aluminium

Battle 1 (2003), 56 x 61 cm

Battle 2 (2003), 70 x 32 cm

Campagna (2003), 48.8 x 56.5cm

Dark Day (2003), 36 x 70 cm

Back is a series of four C-type prints based on paintings that foreground landscape. Battle 1 and Battle 2 revisit Emile Jean Horace Vernet’s Napoleonic battle scenes The Battle of Valmy (1862) and The Battle of Hanau (1824) respectively. Vernet’s works used to be on display in the entrance to The National Gallery, London. They were painted after the military defeat and abdication of Napoleon, but harking back to his heyday. Campagna is derived from Nicolas Poussin’s Landscape with Travellers (late 1630s) one of his earliest landscapes depicting the countryside around Rome. Finally Dark Day reframes a corner of Pieter Breughel’s The Gloomy Day (1565) which warns of bad weather and austerity ahead.

In Back small areas of the backgrounds of the paintings have been selected and re-photographed, honing in on a small detail with edges blurred. As for the moving image work A City Hunts a Murderer (2011), Another Land (2006) and Seem (2001) largely they are devoid of human life, focusing instead on a puff of battle smoke, a ship in peril on stormy seas or a watery idyll. In each, Coutts enters into the image as though entering into a story, in a retelling of history and conflicted places.