The Arborealists: The art of trees & Kirsten Reynolds: Dark ages
The Arborealists: The Art of Trees 2017
curated by Philippa Beale
12 December 2017-13 January 2018
The appearance of the Arborealists in 2013 is an extraordinary phenomenon within the pervading orthodoxy in an art world that values post modernist objects, film and popular culture. Where events, interventions and installations engage the viewer, what can ‘tree painters’ (the Arborealists are for the most part painters), offer a public that is understandably titillated by Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst. Nevertheless, the incredible success of the David Hockney exhibition at the Tate proves that the general public are still interested in artists who reveal nature.
In recent years, many artists have discovered that trees have become one of their most penetrating of influences. The story of their existence and survival is intrinsic to our history and culture, they are even a part of our political landscape. They are a metaphor for our own survival. They live in tribes and families, in forests and groves. As ‘specimens’, they also can stand alone, not out of choice but like brave, solitary people who stand up to be counted, like ‘the one just man’ who does not remain silent when evil is done.
Trees represent the holy, the exemplary, the beautiful and the strength required of mankind. Cut down a tree and it reveals its whole history in the rings of its trunk, all its scars, struggles and suffering. The attacks of axe, saw and storms leave scars but as every forester knows, the hardest woods have the narrowest rings and it is in the most infertile places that the strongest and most indestructible trees grow. Trees permeate our history providing inspiration for religions, literature, poetry, visual art and architecture.
Vaux en Couhé, France, May 2017
Excerpt from the exhibition catalogue.
Kirsten Reynolds: Dark Ages
12 December 2017- 13 January 2018
Kirsten Reynolds is an English artist whose current work uses photography, painting, printmaking and sound / light installation to re-interpret classical themes relating to landscape, nature and the environment. Preferring to work off the beaten track, Reynolds chooses significant locations to make nocturnal light drawings that capture dynamic traces of the artist’s movements in response to each specific landscape. Whilst this technique has been much used over the years in science and the arts, Reynolds has developed a unique approach and her background in music and sound art makes her intuitive physical response to the chosen location both compelling and powerful.
‘The photographs she takes record her explorations of place and time through drawing. She weaves skeins of light before the lens, sometimes white, sometimes coloured. Her trajectory leaves traces whose shapes shift from transparent, through opaque, to sinuous, web-fine lines with the tensile strength of steel. Sometimes the landscape is barely discernible, just a dense tactile space, at other times the forms drift over recognisable terrain like mist that is impossibly articulated, or a bolt of fine silk, each fold of which is impossibly crystalline, or a transparent titanium sculpture. They look like an extraordinary natural event: the aurora borealis, or freak electrical activity.’ Simone Witney, Hastings Independent Press, 2017
‘The drawing process has a lot in common with making music; and I’d say drumming in particular. There is only one chance in each frame to get it right, although there is no pre-defined idea of what is ‘right’. It’s almost like visual improvising with the landscape. The environment is very influential, and intuition and experimentation are important every time. Each location needs to present a new challenge as repetition and predictability within the process results in images that lack dynamism.’ Kirsten Reynolds, 2017
Reynolds has exhibited worldwide from the Hayward Gallery in London for Sonic Boom; The Art of Sound, the first international exhibition of Sound Art, to the Sydney Festival with Power Plant, in which five artists present over thirty site-specific sound and light installations botanic gardens and public parks. Power Plant has won critical acclaim at major arts festivals around the world from the Hong Kong Arts Festival 2011 to the Auckland Arts Festival 2017.
Artist Richard Wilson says of Reynolds’ work:
‘This is not ephemeral art, this is light, action and location all suspended in time as a gestural moment of magic.‘