Art is a catalyst for more art. Starting from the idea that no one creates in a vacuum, but rather that artists inspire and actively influence each other, germinating new ideas and techniques, we invited three fine art photographers to talk about the work of another artist that was seminal to their own artistic journey. Read further to discover the kindred spirits of Marco Barbon (Galerie Clémentine de la Ferronière, FR), Weronika Gęsicka (Jednostka, PL) and Alexander Mourant (Seen Fifteen, UK).
Marco Barbon (Italy, b. 1972)
The work of Italian painter Giorgio de Chirico – particularly his early paintings - have influenced me immensely, probably more than any photographer’s work. The painting L’énigme de l’arrivée et de l’après-midi (1912) is one of my personal favourites. It perfectly captures De Chirico’s aesthetic: an architectural composition bathed in Mediterranean light.
This painting instils a strong sense of enigma, dream, wonder and nostalgia within me. A mysterious silence engulfs the scene, and time seems to have come to a standstill: everything is suspended in an eternal instant. De Chirico achieves to express these feelings not only through a keen use of light, shadow and colour, but mainly through a subtle evocation of the hors-champ.
Many of my photographic works are deeply inspired by Methaphysical art, and particularly my series Metafisica (2007), L’enigme d’une heure (2007) and Nostalgie d’un été (2010) are clearly an homage to De Chirico’s work. Yet it is particularly in Nostalgie d’un été #01 (2010) one can easily notice many similarities with L’énigme de l’arrivée et de l’après-midi, even if at the moment I took this photograph I was not fully aware of all these analogies.
Nostalgie d’un été #01, 2010 © Marco Barbon
L’énigme de l’arrivée et de l’après-midi, 1912 © Giorgio De Chirico / Fondazione Giorgio e Isa de Chirico
Weronika Gęsicka (Poland, b. 1984)
I think every artist encountered the work of Marcel Duchamp at one time or another. I got to know his works more closely during my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts. This was a time of discovery for me, I remember being fascinated by many artists and art movements. However, it was only years later that I was able to recognise how my creativity and perception of the world had been shaped in that period, particularly by Duchamp.
A remarkable yet controversial artist, Duchamp experimented and shocked the audience with the boldness of his ideas. Painting, sculpture, music, film – he approached every medium with a completely new perspective. I was always intrigued by the readymade – a concept that has significantly changed our understanding of what we define as art. He showed that everything can be art – simply by selecting a commonplace object, the artist can transform it into an artwork. In Bicycle Wheel – the first readymade – he juxtaposed a bicycle wheel and a chair, an unexpected combination of two mundane objects that we normally do not associate together or with one another. The result is an ambiguous object that lends itself to multiple interpretations.
Duchamp’s readymades have informed my own interest in everyday objects, particularly the idea that, once taken out of context, an object has the potential to open up multiple interpretations. In my latest project, I took this idea of placing an ordinary object into an artistic context by selecting commonplace objects and subjecting them to various modifications. While they are not typical readymades, this is a concept that is very close to my practice.
Untitled #1 from the series Collection, 2017 © Weronika Gęsicka
Bicycle Wheel by Marcel Duchamp © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris / Estate of Marcel Duchamp
credit: The Sidney and Harriet Janis Collection
Alexander Mourant (UK, b. 1994)
I have always been drawn to Yves Klein’s studies of blue. I admire how he sought to eradicate conventional representation in order to create a deeper psychological exploration of the immaterial. As an artist of great conceptual foresight, Klein felt nothing he could paint would ever imbue the viewer, or himself, with the immensity of lived experience.
Having famously mastered judo in Japan, Klein turned his attention to the limitless sky. After a period of contemplation, he began plastering white canvases with a pure and mystical blue – Klein Blue. The immaterial plane of blue became the only representation he would ever need, a space for the mind to inhabit and roam freely.
I found the idea of an obsessive relationship with a singular colour fascinating both formally and conceptually. My photographs, like Klein’s paintings, radiate from the same highly evocative phenomenon of blue. The Aomori images emerge from the void like a landscape in the mist. Through this process of mysticism, photography is no longer an anchor point in the past but becomes a metaphor for perpetual presence.
Ultimately, Klein was an alchemist. Using only one element – the entity of blue, he drew infinite fields of narrative, metaphor and discourse. There are distinct aesthetic and conceptual relationships that can be established between Yves Klein and my practice. However, if there is one profound connection it is not based on his use of the colour blue, but on the importance he assigned to conceptual ideas. Klein was ferocious in thought and action, through his art he claimed the sky.
Forest II, from the series Aomori, 2017 © Alexander Mourant
Untitled blue monochrome (IKB 82) by Yves Klein © 2018 Artists Rights Society, New York/ADAGP, Paris
credit line: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York Gift, Andrew Powie Fuller and Geraldine Spreckels Fuller Collection 1999
Top image: Fair, Unseen Amsterdam 2017 © Olympia Contopidis