[ Versión en español ]
Alzueta Gallery Barcelona - Sèneca
March 8 - April 9, 2023
JOHN JOSEPH MITCHELL
JAMES P MORSE
As a way of inaugurating a new series of curated group exhibitions, Alzueta Gallery is pleased to present New Landscapes, a group show about the timeless concept of ‘landscape’, its interpretation and re-presentation. This exhibition has been conceived with the intention of establishing conversations between ﬁve of the gallery’s own represented artists and eight international artists invited to the main exhibition space in Sèneca Street during the month of March.
As a noun, a landscape is: 1. a picture, sketch, engraving or other artistic representation of a group of elements such as meadows, forests, mountains, etc.; 2. the branch of painting, photography, etc., that deals with this type of imagery; 3. a view, perspective or panorama of a landscape or tract of land, whether natural or created by man.
‘Landscape‘ itself, in one of those words that is hard to explain. One of those words that mean so many things that, ironically, words feel short to describe them and do justice to all that they encompass. It may be this mysticism and small but provocative challenge of representation the reason why portraying landscapes has been one of the most stable art subjects of all time. No matter when we are in history, no matter where we are, someone has always tried to depict a landscape. Now, curating this exhibition, we realize that the key to this phenomenon of imagery is right there, in those ‘someone(s)‘.
The focus point of New Landscapes is not, as incredible as it may sound, the landscape, but the one who has digested and portrayed it. Especially at a time when the collective imaginary is more collective than ever thanks to new technologies, it is particularly interesting and precious that each artist generates his own idea of what a landscape is, receiving and reinterpreting the idea we all have of the concept. We could say that, in essence, New Landscapes almost verges on the idea of portraiture through the representation of landscape.
Questions about time, memory, empathy and loneliness are the basis of Barbara Alegre (Spain, 1976)‘s work, one of her means to ﬁnd answers are landscapes; looking for analogies between cinematography and everyday life through representations of spaces makes the work of Hugo Alonso (Spain, 1981) corroborate this portrait-landscape theory is repeated both in art history as well as on movie screens.
‘I use the nature that surrounds us to create works in which I can confront my inner conﬂicts,’ says Raffael Bader (Germany, 1987) when talking about his work. Vinna Begin (Indonesia, 1971) describes her landscape works as portraits of experiences. Juan Narowé’s (Brazil, 1993) compositions blur the line between subject and landscape, pushing the personification of the background to the limit. Lachlan Hinwood (United States, 1995) is not far from this concept and his locations are the result of a meditative practice on the transcendental relationship with the landscapes around us.
Jon Koko’s (Sweden, 1988) dreamlike landscapes are not just mechanical representations, they are memories. The mountains and meadows of Guim Tió (Spain, 1987) are ﬂashbacks of things that, in truth, never happened. The mind of Gabrielle Graessle (Switzerland, 1956) functions as a ﬁlter between what she sees, what she feels, and what she ends up representing. This ﬁltering effect is repeated in the work of Xevi Solà (Spain, 1969), whose reinterpretation is splashed with colors as is to be expected from a master of chromaticism.That painting landscapes is not, in fact, just painting landscapes, is the reason why Rob Lyon (UK, 1982) has been painting the surroundings of the South Downs for almost a decade but no two works are ever carbon copies of each other.
The practice of John Joseph Mitchell (United States, 1989) elicits the emotional range of visual experience. James Morse (United States, 1982) uses earth imagery as a language to explore the emotions that arise when contemplating our existence. Larissa Lockshin (Canada, 1992) consistently cultivates a spatial awareness in the viewer through materials and their relationship to the body, going a step further and sowing this doubt as to whether our landscapes have ever been objective in the viewer’s mind. Blanca Guerrero (Spain, 1990) directly accepts that all representation is recreation and tries to perpetuate what she felt when the sun touched her skin or how many layers of fog there were that day on that walk.
In the historical moment in which the landscape goes from being a ‘background’ to being the main element of works, we overlook the fact that nature’s famous ability to understand and reﬂect human existence was not something casual. Painting landscapes was painting portraits; painting landscapes was always an excuse.
No landscape in New Landscapes is really just a landscape. There is no representation, only interpretation. This is not a collection of landscapes but self-portraits, conscious or unconscious is a different, and long, story. This almost accidental quality of nature to awaken an involuntary introspection is a small treasure that, from Alzueta Gallery, we wanted to bring to the forefront and give it the importance that this event deserves.
History is full of accidental self-portraits hidden behind mountains, lakes, plains and skies.