“Luz Severino: Dentro del bosque” [Luz Severino: In the Forest] opened on October 4 and is on view until November 24, 2019, at the Clément Foundation [Fondation Clément, La Nef] in Martinique. The curator for this exhibition is Sophie Ravion d’Ingianni. [Also see previous post Luz Severino: Dentro del bosque.] Here is a translation of Dominique Brebion’s critical essay—see the original (in French) at AICA Caraïbe du Sud.
Luz Severino’s “Dentro del bosque” takes us back to the issue the evolution of the relationship between the artist and nature.
At first, nature is the subject of art. Artists observe and contemplate it. They are inspired by it and they represent it. The pictorial genre of the landscape becomes very popular.
In the sixties, nature became support and material for art: artists worked with and within the landscape. Land art, Earthworks, and Arte Povera were in vogue. A large number of artists, European and American, chose to work in the landscape to find a new space of creation and to create works with nature. These works, however, reflect no concerns, do not engage in ecological matters, but rather, nature becomes a place of creation and production.
Then the artist seeks a new relationship with the natural world and seeks to transcend creation in and with the landscape. Defined by Paul Ardenne, the “ecological” art seeks to raise public awareness of environmental issues, global warming, and the effects of our entry into the new era of the “Anthropocene.” Adapted to the requirements of sustainable development, visual artists who are ecologically conscious adopt unusual forms: working in and with nature, recycling practices and ephemeral interventions, as well as collaborative and poetic creations. These are all various forms of visual creation whose purpose is the defense of ecology, the environment, and sustainable development. Any form adopted by the work claiming this current (whether it be a painting, a photograph, a sculpture, an installation, a video, or a public intervention) aims at this objective: to bring awareness to the public about environmental problems.
“The eco-work is successful when the work, which can not be embodied in traditional visual forms, triggers in the spectators the desire to act, to participate, to clean up, de-pollute, to help.” (Quoted from Paul Ardenne, Un art écologique: Création plasticienne et anthropocène, 2018.)
Luz Severino is at the edge of the first and last category. Certainly, her works seek to denounce the impact of humanity on the planet and, in particular, on nature. “For many generations, man has been destroying his environment—which has nurtured him since the dawn of time—but nature is the symbol of life. As the ancient Native American or African phrase, quoted by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in Terre des hommes, aptly states: ‘We do not inherit the land of our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.’” (Quoted from Severino, Dentro del bosque catalog).
But we remain in the pleasure of aesthetic contemplation. Luz does not dive into a swamp like Joseph Beuys, in 1970, in “Action on Rannoch Moor.” She does not coordinate the planting of 7000 oaks like Beuys in Basel in 1982. She does not plant or harvest in New York like Agnes Denes, in Wheatfield in 1982. She re-transcribes her convictions on the canvas or in volumes.
She denounces the destruction of nature and celebrates its capacity for resilience through the association of various plastic practices. She combines painting, embroidery, sewing, direct scarification in the material using a tipped cutter, stencil printing, scraping, [and the] insertion of sewn and embroidered fabric strips in hybrid creations.
From her works, whether installations or paintings, there emerges the same impression of density and verticality as an echo of the title of the exhibition, Dentro del bosque.
How can we not think of Frans Krajcberg’s burnt wood installations, for example “Sculpture 59” or the beautiful work, “Sans titre” [Untitled] of the Yves Rocher collection?
It is the repetition of vertical lines—painted lines or strips of old torn and sewn fabrics—that gives this feeling of immersion in the heart of a forest revisited by the artist, in a process of stylization of forms and texturizing canvas. From a distance, then up close, the painting reveals the different techniques assembled by the artist in her patient constructing process. Indeed, in her practice, Luz Severino develops a relationship with time. The canvas is gradually structured by the application of stencils, scarification with cutters, embroidery and sewing, collage. The chromatic changes indicate the nycthemeral [day/night] or seasonal cycles. Neither quite the same nor quite different at the heart of a coherent series, each piece works as a note in the general symphony.
Luz Severino adds her original score to the concert of Caribbean visual artists who denounce the wounds that man inflicts on nature.
Tony Capellán (Dominican Republic) and his installations with plastic waste rejected by the sea on the banks of the Dominican Republic as “Mar invadido” (2015); “Eye” by Deborah C. Anzinger (Jamaica), a real advocate for the same attention and consideration for human rights as for environmental rights. “Eye” (2018) combines biomorphic forms in ceramic and a living plant, aloe vera, to call attention to the fragility of the environment.
“Redecode: A tropical theme is a great way to create a fresh, peaceful, relaxing atmosphere,” by Joiri Minaya (Dominican Republic) protests against the commodification and domestication of nature. This is a pixelated version of the exotic “El Dorado” wallpaper designed in 1848 by Zuber & Company, the oldest active wallpaper company, founded in 1797. Codes hidden in the pixels of the mural invite an interactive experience with the work by redirecting us to documents.
Less radical, the seductive and harmonious works of Luz Severino communicate the hope that the beauty of nature will endure and will be reborn.
[Translated by Ivette Romero. Read the original text (in French) at https://aica-sc.net/2019/10/06/luz-severino-dentro-del-bosque/?]
For more information on the exhibition, see http://www.fondation-clement.org/decouvrir-les-expositions/luz-severino-dentro-del-bosque
Also see catalog at https://fr.calameo.com/read/003222559137fd374d78d