Art Basel

Art Basel

The concept of nature already implies its man-made origin. Before a concept is given a name and, through this process, becomes an entity, it remains only a nebulous idea for the human mind. According to Hans Blumenberg, the concept of nature already includes a forming and accentuation of the original structure of the world. We see the significant forming of our relationship to the natural world from the view point of artists also in the selection of the works presented here: the effectual power of the image and the concept of nature employing the example of 'tree' is distributed over several significant contributions.

Thus Paul Morrison's Copses not only captivate us aesthetically, but play with the idea of refuge in a thicket. Or even with the symbol of innocence, when the Roman soldiers in Asterix, in the struggle of the chieftains, take on the form of a copse as the symbol of inconspicuousness and innocence.

The important early Trees series of etchings by Georg Baselitz communicates the complexity of the subject in a unique way, not only as an encyclopaedic representation of the motif in all it variants of technical realization in the medium of etching. Characteristic for Baselitz’ artistic stance, according to Siegfried Gohr, "is an intertwining of stance, motif and painting that responds to the situation of the artist in modernity neither with historicist imitations nor by adapting and vanishing into industrial aesthetics, but rather by bringing the institution 'painter' itself to speak in order to create energies with the aid of the resulting resistance that refounds painting in a qualitatively new sense". In the Trees series, Baselitz brings this discursiveness and unwieldiness to full bloom in the graphic medium using dry-point technique, aquatinta, acidic etching and plates made of various metals: copper, brass and zinc.

The form of the tree familiar to humankind is then portrayed with high individuality in the variation of drawing, line-work and the energy of the tool employed. With this we can look upon our own perception, how the inversion of the motif leads to a receptive achievement that makes precisely this multidimensionality experienceable, liberating it from any character as a mere portrayal.

The coloured etching, Finding Balance, by Shara Hughes, made at the beginning of this year, 2020, liberates the guiding function of art in our time in another way. With titles such as Social Distancing and Unknown Future, and also Finding Balance, the artist spans an arc of interaction between the viewer and the image, the viewer and the etching. If, on the one hand, with the means of drawing, form and colour, she employs the surface for an artistic shaping of space into the meaningful formulation of gestalt and ground, on the other hand, in each case she holds the balance of intuition and designation profitably open for a sensuous experience of seeing and thinking on the part of the individual viewer.

What role does society or the human individual play across the entity of nature? The political individual in Katharina Sieverding's work, or the unapologetically institutionalized and intellectual one with Jonathan Meese. Morrison amplifies the artificiality of nature. How to join together again, when the experience of nature is at several removes?

Art Basel

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