Art14: A Nordic Vision

A long overdue post about the Art14 which exhibited in London in March

Walking around the global art exhibition Art14 in Kensington’s Olympia Grand, I felt my body was in shock, or undergoing some sort of sensory overload. Stepping through the doorway from the grey London sky it was if I had fallen into a kaleidoscope of color, texture and motion. An Aladdin treasure trove of contemporary art, I picked my way past sculptures, paintings and instillations, through hundreds of stands packed with Hirst, Hockney and Rothko, until I found the sign I was looking for.

The little white plaque was neatly inscribed with Galeire Maria Lund. It hung over a clean white display space managed by the small Parisian gallery. My eyes scanned the glass sculptures that stood in the middle, and eventually settled on the photographs hanging on the far wall that I had come to see.

The images were by Swedish artist Helene Schmitz, a photographer celebrated for her nature photography and contributions to the National Geographic.

Schmitz’s work is centred upon the “aggressive side of nature”, examining the point where “nature and culture overlap”, often producing menacing and even threatening spaces. Along with winning several awards and publishing three books, Schmitz’s work has been exhibited world-wide, from Europe to the United States (and not to mention Stockholm’s subway system). Whilst being recognised for close-ups of vivid, mesmerising plants set against a black background, she tells me how the images in Art14 depict a plant that was given as a gift from Japan to America. Now out of control, the rampant foliage has engulfed trees, buildings, and in one of her images, a Salt Mill. When asked about the future Schmitz excitedly explains her next project: shot around Africa her lens is turning towards the destructive sandstorms that have engulfed whole villages in Namibia.

As I look at her photographs I appreciate how Schmitz’s work goes against the grain of Western art’s tendency to depict nature as something innocent and idyllic. Her photographs are a slightly disturbing reassessment of the capability of nature, and our true mortal insignificance.

Here are some other works which caught my eye at the colossal fair of contemporary art:

Juan Fontanive particularly caught my interest with his moving rotations of butterflies and birds in flight. (My video wouldn’t work on here but here is an example from an LA exhibition)

See better examples here:


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