AXEL ANTASPhotographs, drawings
"Antas pursues the notion of manipulating the landscape through his new body of work, which was produced during a residency in the Catalan Pyrenees. He has created structures for birds to live in, placing these fragile bird boxes en masse amongst the harsh landscape or standing alone on a mountain top. What we view is the image; the image after this act, the image devoid of action. We are left to view the bird boxes standing in the landscape, in a solitary environment devoid of any other sign of life. The photographs take on a melancholic quality: empty, perched on cliff tops reaching into the sky, the structures attempt majesty but fail in their fragility. The lack of inhabitants and the poetic stillness of the images emphasise the gap between the surroundings and ourselves, representing man´s failed attempt to converge with the landscape.1
The drawings at first seem like painstaking reproductions of beautiful generic landscapes yet on further inspection they contain details of human intervention this time not necessarily by Antas himself. This unseen presence that is, as in the Photographs absent from our, the viewers periphery echoes through all Antas´ work. Measuring poles, furniture, detritus, remains of rope hanging from branches all resonate a similar message to the photographic images:- A disparity between how we attempt to view and interact within nature.
His most recent drawings of viewing platforms, which depict places of natural beauty, point most directly to what Antas explores in his practice. These manmade structures within the landscape that allow one to pause, delight if not question the surrounding beauty both underline the lack of unity with the landscape and our insensitivity to ones surroundings. Thus creating spectacle out of the natural world, highlighting the awkward, absurd relationship of mankind to his environment
There is a certain slowness that is required when viewing these works. This slowing down is both a requirement of the viewer and for the artist as we can see in his process. Carefully constructing the bird boxes and painstakingly drawing these large scale pieces Antas allows himself and the viewer to unravel their position with his subject matter.
"This exhibition of Antas´ work has a sublime quality and a romantic undercurrent, harking back to Romanticism. The works appear to be suspended in a moment that is devoid of life and action whilst a melancholic and poetic beauty resonates throughout.2
1 + 2 Nicola Hood (Director Spacex, Exeter, UK)