Around After Monet 2017 and 2018
In continuation of my series Let Lost Be Your Guide, (2006-), in which I work withlong shutter times and am moving with the camera, I revisited paintings by Auguste Renoir and Claude Monet at Ordrupgaard, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie, and discovered that one can often see in their landscapes that the light, the sun and the shadows had moved during the depiction of the motif. This was possible because the picture had been created over time and neither subject nor painter had stood quite still while he painted it.
The models had not remained motionless; a person on a swing was moving, and the painter had remained true to what he sensed/experience over time, that is, while he was painting the picture, which as a rule became plain air. Thus the mobility in life itself was captured so that it vibrates in the paintings. Life came along into the dead canvas and with it light.
But as opposed to the painters, I work with a camera, which is either mechanical and therefore neither senses nor experiences. Often the camera depicts a brief fraction of a second in a central perspectival light impression. Is it then possible to get protracted time and life into my photographs? That is, to create pictures in which change takes place, pictures that show that we are always in a state of change and in motion? That the world and we ourselves are different every day, indeed every moment? That what we see can be seen in many ways. . That is the recurrent theme in my processes and in my attempts to create pictures. How can I create photography-based pictures that have extent in space and time?
In Paris I saw a series of Monet’s Cathedral Paintings. Even after the enormous commercialisation that the art of Monet and the other Impressionists have undergone, these are strong, beautiful and luminous artworks, enticing and fascinating. One feels that they were painted directly from what the artist had seen and sensed, but in fact Monet used photographs to support his memory and continued the work in his studio. Moreover he was engaged in a number of, sometimes, many, paintings at the same time in order to capture the swiftly changing light and the accompanying changes of colour. One wonders how he could paint those paintings from a photograph? How could a photograph support the recollection of something sensed and coloristically so complex?
An Impressionist painter can sense and paint the light between what he/she paints and him/herself. The camera can’t do that. It can only depict what is in front of the lens and it captures only that which has a certain sharpness of depth. But the camera can take a number of pictures in succession. One can choose new camera angles and shutter speeds and one can work with speeds that are so slow that movements are inscribed and the colours become deep …
I decided to visit Monet’s garden in Giverny and create photographic compositions in the Master’s garden. I stayed there for several days and photographed both in the flower garden and in the water garden as well as photographing the trees that sway in the wind along the banks of the Seine, where many of the Impressionists painted. Time has changed the area a good deal, and perhaps it is other trees that grow here now. Perhaps it is more or less overgrown. Monet’s garden had been almost overgrown and was on the verge of disappearing, but has been reconstructed on the basis of old shopping lists for plants, photographs, paintings and sketches.
The following year, namely in, 2018, I visited the island of Naroshima in Japan, where outside the Chichu Art Museum I came upon another Monet garden. One early morning I met its gardener, who told me that he let himself be inspired by a new Monet painting each year and used it as a model when he planted flowers.
My photographs are thus pictures of interpretations of Monet’s garden, constructed on the basis of paintings that Monet once painted of his own garden and perhaps also using photographs of them as a reminder. This is After Monet, After Monet,After Monet…