Archives for nature

Artists Roger Ballen and Hans Lemmen Unleash Our Primal Instincts

A MACABRE repertoire of half-human beasties is unleashed at Le Musée de la chasse et de la nature in Paris this spring.  Collaborating miles apart, South African photographer Roger Ballen and Netherlands-based illustrator  Hans Lemmen create Unleashed, an unsettling combination of re-appropriated imagery which unearths Modern Man’s animalistic tendencies.

Ballen’s photographic scraps merge with Lemmen’s drawings to create a contemporary cave painting alongside animistic sculptures of the artists with their pets. Individual works by each artist are also on display including a video which documents their project. The show endeavours to convey the creative process of each artist and how their art thrives from the fusion of their differing practices. The collaboration has been an exciting challenge, as Lemmen explains, “This is the hardest thing I‘ve ever faced in my career. Until the last moment, I did not know if it would be possible to combine photographs and drawings.”

Roger Ballen, Hans Lemmen, Photography, Drawing, Roger Ballen/Hans Lemmen, Entanglement 2016. Courtesy of Roger Ballen and Hans Lemmen Private Collection

Ballen, a master of psychodramas creates highly original sets in unknown locations near Johannesburg in which marginalised individuals improvise their strange narratives and where animals mingle. His scenarios allude to human survival but man’s inability to escape from nature. Ballen explains, “I think that my works seek the animal at the heart of the human mind, the point where a man turns into an animal … ”

Ballen’s nebulous forms free repressed characters from wires and cables, as if releasing them from the constraints of modernity.

Roger Ballen, Hans Lemmen, Photography, Drawing, Le Musée de la chasse et de la natureHans Lemmen/Roger Ballen, Unicorn 2016. Courtesy of Roger Ballen and Hans Lemmen Private Collection

Lemmen’s graphics and sculptures are fictional works which explore the domains between animals and people. He is fascinated by pre-historic times when our ancestors lived in empathy with, not against, nature. Lemmen alludes to our primeval instincts,

“We are simply animals. We are animals with, of course, a more developed brain.”

Occasionally his work displays a curious role reversal in which Man appears to become a sacrificial offering, and animals are invited to take charge.

Roger Ballen, Hans Lemmen, Photography, Drawing, Le Musée de la chasse et de la natureHans Lemmen, Untitled 2014. Courtesy of Hans Lemmen Private Collection

The show parades a grave and male-dominated world but also a few surprises, like this grisly cytoplasm ingesting human remains.

Roger Ballen, Hans Lemmen, Photography, Drawing, Le Musée de la chasse et de la natureRoger Ballen/Hans Lemmen, Oh No! 2016. Courtesy of Roger Ballen and Hans Lemmen Private Collection

by Miranda Charalambous

Unleashed: Roger Ballen and Hans Lemmen, which is co-produced by the Bonnefantenmuseum in Maastricht, until June 4 2017 at Le Musee de la Chasse et de la Nature, 62, rue des Archives 75003, Paris

Tel: 01 53 01 92 40

Front page image: Roger Ballen/Hans Lemmen, Oh No! 2016, Photograph, Courtesy of Roger Ballen and Hans Lemmen Private Collection

Paul Nash Retrospective Opens At Tate Britain, London

A RETROSPECTIVE of the work of the work of Paul Nash, one of the greatest war artists and landscape painters of the 20th century, opens at Tate Britain in London. Nash played a significant role in the discourse between British art and International Modernism and was a key figure in the development of British surrealism. The exhibition, which takes its title from the artist’s name displays paintings, sculpture and collage, including his collaborative work with British surrealist, Eileen Agar, paintings from the International Surrealist Exhibition of 1936 and works by the avant-garde artists of Unit One, of which Nash was a member.

Nash was fascinated by the mystical power of the landscape, moonlight and trees, themes with which he maintained a strong affinity. The exhibition begins with his early illustrative work inspired by Pre-Raphaelite poetry and a fantastical seascape of sand dunes and pyramids. Nature assumes unearthly forms such as the tall elms at his family’s garden in Iver Heath which Nash described as “ … three heads fused in cascades of dense leaves spreading out like the crown of a vast fountain.”

Paul Nash, Tate Gallery, art, paintingEquivalents for the Megaliths 1935 by Paul Nash. Courtesy of the Tate Gallery

Drawn to ancient landmarks, Nash painted the chalky hills of Wittenham Clumps and the prehistoric stones at Avebury, the latter of which inspired his abstract depictions of megaliths.

In wartime, his trees ceased to be places of refuge and tranquillity, as in his early work. With their branches hacked off by artillery fire, his trees became disfigured stalks that scar the landscape. Letters home to his wife, Margaret reveal that in the aftermath of battle, Nash sought comfort in the regeneration of nature, “Nearly all the battered trees have come out and the birds sing all day in spite of shells and shrapnel.”

Paul Nash, Tate Gallery, art, paintingSpring in the Trenches, Ridge Wood, 1917-1918 by Paul Nash.
Imperial War Museum, London, Courtesy of the Tate Gallery

During the Second World War, Nash decided to convey war differently and nature became a metaphor for destruction. In his famous work, Totes Meer, an owl surveys the skeletal remains of aircraft wreckage under a watery moon. The artist remarked, “…it is not water or even ice, it is something static and dead. It is metal piled up, wreckage.”

Paul Nash, Tate Gallery, art, paintingTotes Meer (Dead Sea) 1940-1941 by Paul Nash. Presented by the War Artists Advisory
Committee 1946, Courtesy of the Tate Gallery.

by Miranda Charalambous

The exhibition, Paul Nash opens from October 26, 2016 to March 5, 2017 at Tate Britain, London SW1P 4RG
Tel: +44 (0)20 7887 8888

Email: visiting.britain@tate.org.uk

Front page image: The Rye Marshes 1932 by Paul Nash. Ferens Art Gallery, Courtesy of the Tate Gallery