Pay Nothing Until April – Edward Ruscha


Later in his career, Ruscha started to explore landscapes that were alien to his Los Angeles home, and from the 1980s he began to work on a series of paintings where he presented landscape views superimposed by text. Here, snow-capped blue mountains sit against a yellow sky, while the incongruous phrase “Pay nothing until April” is overlaid in the foreground. The piece was created by spraying the canvas with an initial layer of paint, before building it up further with mid-sized brushstrokes. He said of the project, “it’s not a celebration of nature. I’m not trying to show beauty. It’s more like I’m painting ideas of ideas of mountains. […] Mountains like this were only ever a dream to me.”

The relationship between the text and the mountain landscape seems mysterious or inharmonious. In this way, Ruscha invites the viewer to consider both the everyday phrase and the background more closely as they try to ascertain the connection between the two. The phrase “pay nothing until April” echoes the language of advertising, where customers are encouraged to commit to a product now but not pay for it until a later date. The painting is about the size of a shop-window travel poster and the combination of words and image may conjure an advertisement for a ski holiday or airline flight. The font, which is clean and modern, was designed by Ruscha and is intended to indicate what he described as a “no-style”. The painting points to a view of the world, which is detached and distant, and compels the viewer to accept that logical connections can’t be pre-supposed.

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ARTIST: Edward Ruscha USA
MEDIUM: Acrylic paint on canvas
DIMENSIONS: 1527 × 1525 × 40 mm