Inspirations Nature: Photographs by Antonio Gaudencio / Ceramic sculpture by Daniel
The heavily dramatized landscapes of Antonio Gaudencio draw in the eye of the viewer to scan highlands bathed in light, scoured by retreating glaciers, and emptied of their ancient forests by man and his livestock over millennia.
An approach to landscape photography not unlike that of Romantic painters such as Thomas Cole, founder of the Hudson River School, and Albert Bierstadt, a prominent member of the same group. Nature is in the foreground, geological formations set the stage, and a play of darkness from brewing storms guide the viewer to grassy meadows, a mountain stream, or a rocky plain striated by forces of erosion.
A reaction to the Enlightenment and its rebarbative rationalization of nature, and in some respects a welcome alternative to the realities of industrialization and urban sprawl, Romanticism placed man in and often at the mercy of nature. The North American west of the mid-nineteenth century was still relatively untouched by Western rational thought; hence, nature was to be viewed in its full splendor. This is very different from the stark landscape of the Scottish Highlands, where, in ‘La route,’ Gaudencio has captured an automobile plotting its way through an immense landscape in which man played a significant role in its destruction. Bereft of its ancient forests, only grass remains, and life has been reduced to a very thin layer. Man is in what he has left of nature, passing through his beautiful wasteland on a strip of tarmac encased in steel on four wheels.
And yet man is perceivably very small and fragile, as often portrayed by the Romantics, atop the rock in ‘Solitude’. Rock that has formed over billions of years prevail in Gaudencio’s worlds. ‘Minéralité’ and ‘La silhouette’ place in the forefront sediments possibly containing evidence of the life they once harbored millions of years ago. Compressed and regurgitated by tectonic actions, Gaudencio has captured a fleeting moment in geologic history, reviving tensions between what may be perceived by us as geological permanence and the ephemerality of our kind.
It is difficult to escape our current global rationalization of nature as was once possible for members of the Hudson River School, and to flee from the rapidly industrializing east to the pristine North American west. We have globalized, and there is no cranny that has been left untouched by our corporate projections. National parks of today offer nooks to be plundered and developed by future administrations. Quite different from the panorama scrutinized by Bierstadt’s brush, Gaudencio’s lens may frame a landscape that fell victim to our evolution and constant abuse, and yet similarly holds an intrinsic reminder of our own insignificance
and fragility. Hence, we find respite amongst mountain springs and eroded rock, even if they convey only a fraction of the splendor captured by Hudson River School. And we are soothed by the notion that nature, in the grand scheme, will never be completely fathomed or annihilated by one of her most destructive great apes. The structure will be reclaimed, nature will rebound.
Cavey Galerie Rastoll
16 Rue Sainte Anastase, 75003 Paris
10 March -25 April 2020