Lee Ranaldo's exhibition, Lost Highways at Galerie Jan Dhaese, in Gent, Belgium, includes works that are described by Ranaldo as quick sketches, and they appear diaristic and meditative -- uniformity exists as they were all created from the vantage point of a tour van's front seat, while traversing with his band, The Dust, for the past few years. Sketches of highway curves and iconographic landscapes offer a sense of duration with a repetition of imagery; we are faced with restlessness and stimulus together at once (on equal terms), evoking a feeling quite similar to glimpsing newness and sameness on a highway. We also feel the pull of destination. Ranaldo's sketches rely upon experience and personal reaction to landscape, movement and space; the sketches employ a systematic means of capturing elements of reality, while eliminating itinerary. Ranaldo's awareness of his surroundings and manner of drawing with graceful ambiguity leaves the highways nameless, without an absolute sense of night or day, leading to an openness of horizons, hills, and tree-lines, followed by a fast moving disappearance of vantage point.
The inspiration for Ranaldo's Lost Highway series first developed in the late 70s, stemming from an interest in capturing moving landscapes from the perspective of a car window, and this was sustained over decades touring as Sonic Youth cofounder, guitarist and vocalist. Reflecting on the influence of time-cycles and travel, Ranaldo writes, "How does one draw a moving landscape? It's like trying to draw a rushing river. My first responses were gestural, skeins of lines following the horizon, the curve of the road and the shapes of the trees, continuously overlaid upon itself, forming a kinetic image. Over time certain iconographic images developed, certain curves in the road, views through breaks in the trees that were seen over and over again, no matter where one was traveling. The road, like the river, is ever changing and ever the same."
Ranaldo's works evoke a kind of meditation that remain personal, conveying a human experience of passing time, not filtered through any sensibility outside of that sense of movement and moment.