intimacy of the landscape

The notion of intimacy is very often associated with internal feelings, either closeness with another person or the atmosphere of interior spaces closed to the views of others. So by varying this concept can one not find intimacy in landscape? Though the scale may be different can one show this feeling of symbiosis within certain landscapes? How does one translate this two-way relationship which both creates intimate feelings within a landscape and finds an echo in their contemplation? Trying to define this relationship necessitates research into the meaning of these two words.

LANDSCAPE: external space, rural or urban, vast or more contained, the frame of which reveals the reality of a place primarily open to the view of all. Shapes, light, colours, matter, and the placing of elements amongst one another are all generated by uncontrollable evolutions of nature (composition of the soil, influence of the sun and moon, cycles of vegetation) as much as by human intervention (habitat, urbanisation, forestry, cultivation). Even if much of the landscape is composed of privately claimed areas, it is in essence, to different degrees, in its globality a public domain.

INTIMACY: that which touches the closest, which concerns the individual alone and the relationships which he maintains with people, objects or the places which are closest to him. Implies ideas of protection, of secrecy, and in human relationships the familiarity and profound confidence which can lead to sharing of identities. It defines that which is familiar, linked to the past, protected from external intrusions, and certainly not revealed to the public. The intimate belongs to the private domain, to the individual.

The two words juxtaposed therefore reveal (in their current usage) opposite, antinomic, paradoxical meanings. Trying to reduce this equation is a signi-ficant challenge. The collective framework of a workshop where the diver- sity of sensibilities, of education and culture, and of approaches and styles are expressed may not provide a coherent approach to the task, but will certainly reveal the multiplicity of ways it may be explored. To launch the process of reflection and creation around this concept one must go even further in the exploration of the possible interpretations of the landscape/ intimacy concept.

Interior landscapes are the images of a landscape which one carries inside and the exterior reality reveals. They do not respond automatically or strictly to the commonly implied definition of the representation of a landscape: neither in the nature of the objects represented, nor the distance, scale or angle of vision shown.

Landscapes of intimacy whether immense, closed, open or protected refer us to feelings of intimacy, and through identification and osmosis with these landscapes lead us to feel part of them. These landscapes, however, are only a support, a neutral screen on which our sensitive reactions are projected. The perceptions we have are ours exclusively. They are inspired by our own history, our sensibilities, and by the particular way each of us selectively partitions the space around us and chooses our own viewpoint. This landscape reveals and catalyses sensations and emotions. It exists only for the potential emotional or aesthetic value which it holds. It is the eyes of the viewer which gives it shape, which suggests that without viewers it does not exist.

Intimate landscapes are places where and with which one has durable, attentive and sensitive relationships. They can also be a theatre of the past, linking to history and thus becoming part of memory. This special relationship continues with time and is protected by its exclusive and secret character, generating a complex plethora of sensations. It is experienced very personally and is difficult to transmit outside of the mediation of a sensitive and poetic language.

In 1984 the first series of Interiors was presented to the public. Critics related it immediately to the category of landscapes, although still life may have been more appropriate, evoking the idea that between the two could be intimacy of interior landscape. On my side I spoke of portrait or self-portrait giving reference to the history of my work. In art every question is sure never to be conclusively answered. The question of intimacy in landscape does not escape that fate.



Fontvieille, 12 july 2002


text jean-marc tingaud

translation evie pace & joern stegen

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