TRÈS LOIN À L’EST, IL Y A L’OUEST / 3*
If Caspar David Friedrich had spent time in Iceland, I wonder if he would have populated his landscapes with little men dressed in red with matching helmets, or with the Dinky-toy sized Caterpillar tractors that you find in Pétur Thomsen’s photos. Why Caspar David? Perhaps because the great Romantic painter of vast landscapes, like the artist he was, did not paint what he saw in front of him, but what he saw inside himself; which is what Pétur gives us in his photography. But hold on! Photography, did I say? Romantic? And why not? Seek God in nature, said Caspar David Friedrich. Pétur Thomsen shows us the edge of Hell. Industrial Romanticism – photos that lead us towards the sublime. But this is nature, stained, lacerated, clawed, and scratched. Nature, becoming land art, like something by Robert Smithson, or oddly attired Markus Raetz-style constructions, that tend to the abstract. But hold on! Pétur does research, he gets informed, and he studies those dams and power stations that are disfiguring the Icelandic landscape. He goes to the construction site, camps out, he has a car with caterpillar tracks, it might be –30° but he stays for a week, two weeks, three weeks, and then he comes back a month later, prowls around with his view camera on his shoulder to get the right angle, the perspective, the colour – Caspar David Friedrich revisited by Kandinsky, that’s what turns Pétur on. I don’t know if Andreas Gursky ever photographed Icelandic landscapes. I’m talking about his superb photographs, the ones before he turned to the grandiloquent stuff. Clément Rosset’s definition of grandiloquence is “transforming little stuff into big stuff and giving significance to insignificant stuff”. All this to say that Pétur Thomsen has the ability to give us works that are probably better than Gursky’s early stuff. But let’s hope that the recognition he clearly deserves doesn’t lead him off into that grandiloquence that threatens all recognized artists.
Jean-Luc Amand Fournier, curator and teacher for the ENSP
*Très loin à l’Est, il y a l’Ouest : Far to the East, There is the West.
Pétur Thomsen participates in the Backlight Photo Festival in Tampere Finland.
He exposes images from the series Imported Landscape. Here you can find more info regarding the festival.
While in Finland Pétur Thomsen tutored a workshop at the TAMK university in Tampere.
The last days of the exhibition Perspectives – On the Borders of Art and Philosophy at the Reykjavík Art Museum.
Perspectives – On the Borders of Art and Philosophy offers an unusual overview of contemporary Icelandic art. Selected by eight curators, the exhibition is representative of the breadth and diversity of styles and artistic media pursued in Iceland today. Self-reflexive engagement with the very notion of art is a common element in many of the works. The goal is to create a thought provoking exhibition and to generate a dialogue about the meaning of contemporary art. What unifies the exhibition is a unique collaborative approach to curating. All of the eight curators have advanced degrees in philosophy and address every aspect of the exhibition from philosophical standpoints.
“Frontiers of Another Nature – Pictures from Iceland” is a unique selection of emerging and established Icelandic photo-media artists.These artists repeatedly draw from the landscape and environment in their work. The catalog and exhibition will introduce ambiguous environments in which the photographers themselves investigate and build visual narratives around the expanse of land, or the loss of it. Here the landscape often performs as metaphor for desire, alienation, magnificence and awe, tradition, irony and rebellion or achievement and deficit.
The exhibition is curated by Celina Lunsford, Fotografie Forum Frankfurt, and Dr. Christiane Stahl, Alfred-Ehrhardt-Stiftung, in cooperation with Inga Lára Baldvinsdóttir, National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavík, and María Karen Sigurðardóttir, Museum for Photography, Reykjavík, as part of the arts and culture program of the Fabulous Iceland – Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2011.
Participating artists: Katrín Elvarsdóttir, Icelandic Love Corporation, Einar Falur Ingólfsson, Haraldur Jónsson, Bára Kristinsdóttir, Ingvar Högni Ragnarsson, Hrafnkell Sigurdsson, Spessi, Pétur Thomsen and others.
More information at the publishers web page Kehrer Verlag