Nature isn’t all about green leaves and sandy beaches 😉
One of the beauties of running a blog such as DS is the possibility of regularly viewing the work of creative photographers (you know who you are 😉 ). This obviously percolates through my mind and makes me more aware of scenes that I might not have otherwise noticed.
Last Sunday, my wife and I visited the Carmignac Foundation on the island of Porquerolles, a couple of hours away from home. One of the works of art on display, a large outdoors panel reminiscent of drive-in cinemas – was set in what must once have been a very posh tennis court, given the total isolation in the forest and vast area around the court lines.
Instantly the walls caught my attention, reminding me of the archetypal wabi-sabi enclosure of Kyoto’s Ryōan-ji Zen gardens. Very different initial intentions, but nature painted the same meaning on both.
After a little while of contemplation, a rhythmic pattern of crack and painterly streaks caught my attention, interrupting the time-infused patina of the walls with more deliberate traces of erosion and possibly attempts at stopping it, those presumed attempts -or are they seepage? – themselves now subject to aging of their own.
I see hints of Zao Wou Ki in them, whose undecipherable abstracts I can never make sense of but always have a great impact on me.
But it was Nancee’s recent, brilliant abstract series that triggered my desire to photograph the lot rather than just one or two. Blame her for me inflicting this one upon you today 😉
As soon as the project emerged in my mind, so did a series of worries. Not all leaks were as inspiring as others. Not all showed great composition. Not all were really strongly visible. And, worst of all, not all were lit in the same way. The sun hit some directly, while others remained in the shadows.
Seeing the potential in those, I considered returning on an overcast day, with a tripod, to capture a more perfectly executed and more evenly lit series. But two important factors turned me against that perfectionist idea.
First, inspiration and instinct are how I photograph. Call those moments serendipitous encounters or an eye attuned to the unusual, but the energy related to them would vanish should I return with a mission.
Secondly, rain, wind, sand, shadow and sun are what created the patterns. Photographing them in controlled lighting would be denying that. I might as well photograph paintings in a studio. As they were, in their natural setting, their lighting no doubt influenced my composition, with shadows mirroring the streaks and sunlight (or lack thereof) altering the feel of the patina.
So here they are, au naturel, bathing in the conditions that created them, and photographed through the lens of a brain probably influenced by the paintings seen indoors moments before and the creative contributors to DS.
That is the purpose of art. Not only to hang on private walls for the privilege of a happy few, even less so to rot in some vault or dungeon in the hope of appreciation (a striking contradiction in terms), but to influence the mind of future creators. It’s why young painters who have now become canon once traveled the world to see the work of one another in search of ideas and technique.
Visiting the Carmignac Foundation is a fantastic experience. Barefoot indoors, to sense the various textures, and in a wonderful natural setting outdoors. Most of the works there focus on the Island, the foundation, and perception itself. I’m almost tempted to send them a series of small prints of those images for consideration.
They will probably laugh me out of the room. But, hey, that’s art as well. The hope of appealing and speaking to others is what drove many artists to continue in spite of hardship and painful anonymity. Likely refusal takes nothing away from the satisfaction of making those images.
I’ve never really been tempted by the idea of an exhibition. But after seeing the art on display there, there’s a sense of this series fitting in, at least in concept. The quality of the work, in the company of Lichtenstein, Rodin and other heavyweights, is something else entirely 😉
I look forward to your comments. In the meantime, thanks for the mental nudge, Nancee 😉
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