Intense moments of perception with the subtleties and grandeur of nature—and they are often one and the same—are among the most potent and lasting archetypes of Beauty and Transcendence which we, citizens of the post-industrial world, still experience. These moments—a small flower blossoming, a spider web, a chrysalis, the arousal from sleep of hidden faunae, a call from an unseen and unknown animal in the distance, the scent of coming rain, among countless others—offer an inexhaustible source of inspiration.
Forests & Boutonnières is a large-scale project that looks for new social possibilities between spectators and artworks. I will base the project on the essence of the primeval forest and the sharpness with which the urban shaman must confront it. It will draw on the tension between human and natural history. The works will explore ideological projections onto landscape and how they shape our experience of the beautiful and transcendent. As do all artworks grounded in reference to nature, the rebirth of shadowy zones, forgotten tales, and vestigial histories will impact the process and the images which result. One counterpoint is inevitable. Human history is cyclical; peace and war, oppression and freedom, the reign of collective and individual values, reign of worldly and spiritual ideals—these recurrences find their parallels in the cycles of nature across seasons as well as millennia.
The project will honor Monet’s Nymphéas, a large-scale oval installation at Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris while keeping a contemporary perspective and approach. The project consists of different works around the subject of the primeval forest and the city jungle, but one piece in particular will consist of four large-scale paintings measuring 2 meters high (6.5 feet). Two of the canvases will measure 3 meters wide (9.8 feet) and two others will be assembled to form a 9 meter wide painting (29.5 feet). They will form an octagon in which the spectator will be immersed.
Tohaku Hasegawa is one of most important Japanese painters ever, and the most important painter of the country during the Azuchi-Momoyama period, along with Kanō Eitoku, with whom he developed an important artistic rivalry. He was the founder of the so-called Hasegawa School of painting, which kept its importance for over two centuries.
The “Pine Trees” screen (Shorin-zu-byobu) is Tohaku’s most important work, and one of the most famous Japanese paintings inside and outside Japan, where it has been declared a National Treasure. The influence of Sesshu Toyo and his “splashed ink” technique is obvious in this screen, considered one of the first paintings of the history to depict only trees as subject matter – only a small part of the top of a mountain is slightly visible at the far right of the left screen.
Although the work is already beautiful at first glance, to appreciate it in its entirety we should understand the Japanese concept of Ma, a word that has no equivalent in Western languages. It refers to a negative space, a space that is substance. In the words of the Taoist philosopher Lao Tzu, “Walls and doors form the house, but the empty space within them is the essence of the house”. In the Shorin-zu-byobu, the pine trees form the landscape. The empty space is the landscape.
In a not-so-secluded, but unforgiving room on the fourth floor of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, three of David Claerbout’s videos formed a claustrophobic horseshoe of exuberance and brutality – Eugenia Bell
I have visited a strange and beautiful place, a land containing creatures and locations that are fantastical but somehow familiar. A negative world. A landscape unknown. So close, but as yet undiscovered.
While some people may think that most of their local landscapes have been discovered and photographed ad-nauseum, I have sought out the landscapes of my imagination. However, these are not photoshop creations but real places. Illuminating the dark spaces beneath rocks and trees by viewing them in negative I have unearthed a landscape previously unknown to me. What you see in them is only limited by your imagination. This journey is ongoing.
Edward Chell’s work explores a matrix of connected ideas centred on taxonomies and extinction, thresholds and boundaries, borders and hinterlands. For instance, his recent project Soft Estate investigated the aesthetics and ecology of motorway landscapes in relation to the 18th Century Picturesque. Chell uses such sites to foreground colliding narratives through painting and a wide range of media.