with land art
Although many of us won’t be flying over Leysin, Switzerland any time soon, French artist Guillaume Legros, who’s better known as Saype, has painted a hopeful new work on a grassy hillside that’s best seen from the air. Across 3,000-square meters, “BEYOND CRISIS” shows a little girl with a hand-drawn farandole circling around her. She peers across the mountainous region toward the horizon.
The expansive piece is Saype’s encouraging response to the ongoing threat of COVID-19 worldwide. “During these times of pandemic, a majority of the world population is confined. Although we are all affected, we live different challenges or struggles and I choose to paint this fresco entitled ‘BEYOND CRISIS’ close to home to share with you an optimistic message and a breath of fresh air,” the self-taught artist wrote on Instagram.
Saype explores themes of humanity through existential philosophies, he said in a statement, by inviting “us to wonder about our deep nature, our spirit, our place on earth and in the society.” The artist began working on grassy landscapes in 2015 as a way to merge his penchant for land art and graffiti, which since has inspired an artistic movement. For his massive projects, Saype uses paint derived from natural materials like coal and chalk.
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Jon Foreman arranges his seashell coils and stone gradients knowing that they’ll be washed away by the tide or kicked over by passersby. The artist’s ephemeral land art is hypnotic and entrancing in its precision, arranged in perfectly concentric circles and exacting compositions depressed in the sand. His large-scale pieces transform blank beaches and forest expanses into artworks that evidence both environmental diversity and continuity.
Based in Wales, the artist began creating his nature-based work while in college. Since then, his land art has ranged from minimal stone sculptures to sweeping sand mandalas, and each project has its own entrancing motif. “Repeat processes are always very therapeutic and this is a good example of that, getting lost in the process is an important part of land art,” Foreman recently wrote on Instagram.
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Take a seat on one of Tanya Preminger’s grass-covered artworks, and you won’t be able to right the balance. The Isreal-based artist created immovable slants and indentations embedded in the land that seem like they should tip depending upon the amount of weight settled on either side. For each sloping piece, Preminger employed an excavator to dig a hole and pour the soil into a nearby pile. She then used a shovel, rake, and lengthy ruler to sculpt the slanted earth, covering it with sod at the end.
After seeing a footprint left in a bit of sand, Preminger wanted to express the relationship between give and take that’s inherent in nature. “In physics, an action is equal to its reaction,” she tells Colossal. “The project expresses in material form the philosophical law of balance between opposing sides of one essence.”
The artist produced the first oval impression in 1989 in the fields of the kibbutz Givat Brenner. When organizers of the Chemin d’Art asked her to recreate her original work for their 2008 festival in France, she designed “Round Balance,” altering her oval to a circle “to give a more universal meaning.” (via Design You Trust)
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REWILD: A Short Film by Splash and Burn and ESCIF Chronicles Rainforest Restoration Efforts in Sumatra
To draw attention to the ecological devastation wrought by palm oil farming in Southeast Asia, the Splash and Burn project (previously) creates and documents large and small-scale art activations. The initiative’s most recent endeavor, titled REWILD and executed with Spanish artist ESCIF, involved carving a rewind symbol into a palm oil plantation in Sumatra, Indonesia, and creating a short film documenting the effort. ESCIF explains, “the idea of going back, of rewinding, is an invitation to reconnect with ourselves; to recover awareness and respect for the earth, which is the ecosystem of which we are a part.”
The land art intervention took place on an acquired plantation within a new forest restoration site made possible by the Sumatran Orangutan Society. After clearing the palms, diverse vegetation has been re-planted. In a release about the project, Splash and Burn explains that the restoration site is located on the borders of the Leuser Ecosystem, one of the most biodiverse places on earth. Sumatra’s forests—and the wildlife populations within—have shrunk by 40% in the past two decades, replaced by palm oil, paper pulp, and rubber plantations. Though not commonly known in the U.S. as a cooking oil, palm oil is the most widely consumed oil on the planet, found in everything from chocolate and instant noodles to lipstick and laundry detergent.
You can watch the trailer of REWILD below. It features an abstract soundscape by Indonesian composer Nursalim Yadi Anugerah. If you are interested in contributing, head to moretrees.info, and follow Splash and Burn (comprised of Ernest Zacharevic and Charlotte Pyatt) on Instagram.
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Light Installations by Javier Riera Project Concentric Circles and Geometric Cubes onto Mountains and Trees
Spanish artist Javier Riera designs and photographs light projections that fit perfectly onto specifically shaped trees and their branches. The geometric forms are inspired by the particular landscape, and are used to reveal what Riera perceives to be latent dimensions or energies embedded in the natural environment. “His hopes the photographs deepen the connection between nature and the audience, allowing the viewer to find a greater appreciation for the multitude of layers that compose the nature world.
“[I am interested in] those moments in which the outside (the landscape) begins to be perceived as something very intimate, while our internal world begins to be perceived with some distance,” says Riera to Colossal. “It is almost as if it becomes external to us, and for that reason it is clarified.”
Although the visual aspect of a location is important to Riera’s design, a large part of his process is researching the landscape’s history, including the people that inhabit or visit it. This information allows him to develop an original pattern or structure for the projection, while also remembering the place more holistically as the work develops. Riera will have work in the upcoming Umbria Light Festival in Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain from February 21-23, 2019. You can see more of his projected light works on his website and Instagram.
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When traveling, it is a given that I will visit at least one museum dedicated to art. Most often it is someplace new—either an institution that has previously escaped my radar, or one that belongs to a city I have not yet explored. Although I enjoy viewing institutional collections, I am perhaps most drawn to works installed outdoors, especially if they require a bit of extra effort to reach. Phaidon has taken the burden out of researching secluded works and well-known urban installations by compiling some of the best into a new compendium titled Destination Art.
The book is a follow-up to their publication Destination Architecture (2017), and includes 500 artworks installed around the globe in 60 countries and 300 cities. The guide is a great resource for planning your next art pilgrimage to a far off corner of the Earth, or simply narrowing down a piece or two that have been hiding in your own backyard. The global guide is focused on site-specific modern and contemporary works from 340 artists ranging from Yayoi Kusama’s city-based collaboration with Coca-Cola in Matsumoto, Nagano in Japan to Louise Bourgeois’s “Crouching Spider” (2003) situated on a reflective pool outside the Château La Coste in Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, France. You can buy the book, which includes a wide range of murals, sculptures, sound installations, land art, and more, on Bookshop or Phaidon.
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Editor's Picks: History
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.