Peter Neuchs, Turi Heisselberg Pedersen — Dans la forêt


Ceramic, drawing, painting, sculpture

Peter Neuchs, Turi Heisselberg Pedersen
Dans la forêt

Past: January 26 → March 9, 2013

It is a mutual fascination with each other’s work that led to the exhibition: Into the woods (Dans la forêt), which brings the visual artist Peter Neuchs (Brazil) and the sculptor Turi Heisselberg Pedersen (Denmark) together. Looking at their work, one can identify the points they have in common: an almost impenetrable depth, a powerful link to the primitive and a delicate but intense palette. In the case of both artists, the approach to the chosen theme privileges a perception dominated by the sense and the imaginary that deforms to better translate the feelings, real or fantastic, which the idea of the forest inspires. Turi Heisselberg Pedersen concentrated on studying the vegetal in detail— bulbs, tubers and tree stumps—bringing to mind both the beauty and the immensity of nature in each of its infinitesimal creations. Thus her works brings to light the expressive richness of ceramics and evoke the ancestral and sensual relationship of man with the earth, with matter. As for Peter Neuchs, he has chosen to depict big landscapes impregnated with a strange suspense, troubling and savage nocturnal visions, whose atmosphere conjures up the film noir. Between baroque art and cinematography, Peter Neuchs also explores the complex link between civilization and nature.

Peter Neuchs : works on paper

Grandiose, disturbing and nocturnal landscapes appear in the woods of Peter Neuchs. A baroque, flamboyant night where the elements—air, earth and water—come together and dilute in watercolour; a shadowed forest in which the trees stand out against the impenetrable nature of gouache, creates a vibrant clair-obscur.

The pictorial surface, filled all over, is excessively stuffed with details, sensations, and feelings.

Into the woods

The compositional elements borrowed from baroque art — the density of the construction, foreshortenings, shapes, colours and lights give to Peter Neuchs’ work spectacular and immediate quality. His landscapes originates in the aesthetics of the Sublime, in that “agreeable kind of horror,” 1 which floods the viewer when in front of that which transcends beauty. That notion of the sublime still linked to the Romantic movement, to the wonder faced with the splendour and power of nature in the XIX° century. Analogically, it is a mass of feelings, which invades us when looking at a work by Peter Neuchs. Beyond the emotion felt in front of the artist’s technical virtuosity and the beauty of the depicted landscapes, subsist primitive feelings and reactions before these red trees so tall and powerful, circling a solitary refuge, before these burning bushes, this frozen water, these mysterious shadows of the night.

Here Peter Neuchs flirts with the “Neo-romanticism” of the one who dreams in his studio of an excessive and fine nature. But, in fact, once plunged into the troubling nocturnes, bit-by-bit their artificiality appears. Bizarre lights almost too strong or too white — spotlights? Saturated colours, too many colours for a night in the forest. The title of one of the works reveals sham, the reason for this visual density: “La unit américaine”, the title of a film by François Truffaut about the cinema and its artificiality, but which is also a reference to a cinematographic procedure, a filter, “Day for night”, that allows night scenes to be filmed in the daylight.

So these landscapes are projections, fantasies, born of the imagination of their creator, just as they are an homage to the cinema which has greatly influenced the work of Peter Neuchs in terms of framing, lighting, atmospheres and references. Artificially constructed, these landscapes are oversized — better than nature — both baroque and cinematographic, they then, become a receptacle for the representations, the visions and the dreams of the viewer.

1 Joseph Addison, Remarks on Several Parts of Italy, 1718

Turi Heisselberg Pedersen ceramic sculpture

Suddenly, one can have doubts: doubts about what one sees, doubts about what one thought one saw; perception is put to the test, feelings and impressions are intensified, proportions are modified — one panics — or to the contrary — the known offers new visions to enlarge; the object of the gaze is not only an object or a phenomenon with a name, but several existences at once. A metamorphosis has taken place; one sees the world in a new light. Contact with nature can have those effects. Either nature fills us with anguish because of its immensity and power compared to our fragile being, or else we are awe-struck, carried away, transformed in front of the rich magnificence of what escapes and surpasses us.


By throwing herself

Into the Woods with the visual artist and painter Peter Neuchs, Turi Heisselberg Pedersen started an investigation into the ambiguous relationship we have with nature. A previous series, My Garden (2011-2012), was stimulated by a study of her own garden, by the growth of vegetals and by her relationship to the earth — an even stronger than usual relationship owing to her training as a potter. In that series, the link with the container, the vase, her main reference since her beginnings, was still partially visible: on some of the “vases” twigs and leaves agglomerated. In her other works, she had completely given up the container with its rigorous symmetrical line and developed sculptures inspired by bulbs, stalks and vegetals: pieces with exaggerated or disproportional shapes. This was in order to express a vision and a tactile experience more to do with an affect than a desire to represent. Whereas the artist’s previous works were characterized by a smooth and regular surface, a slip, an engobe that united with the body of clay, in My Garden Turi Heisselberg started to use dripping glazes emphasizing the curves on which they operate. Thus she showed the will to allow nature and its laws — in particular gravity — to enter and take part in the “artistic direction”..

Into the Woods

With her new work on our relationship with nature — Into the Woods — Turi Heisselberg Pederson has gone even further: the shape of the vase has totally vanished. Sculptures have been created where the tension between the imaginary and reality is even more present. Her Trunks evoke trees as well as bodies, sensual bodies, specimens of that enchanted forest where imagination also sees something else. The svelte Tubers have left their underground hiding place and their modest dimensions in order to rear up proudly, allowing us to see almost foliated structures, which make up their surface. The artist has also created a group of Bulbs, of which some are touching with their round heaviness and others intriguing because of their compact shapes and their chiseled surface. Lines have been incised into their matte surface. They underline the bulbous volumes and remind us of primitive art (Aboriginal paintings and tribal tattoos). The colours are earthy but luminous, while the engobe put on the body of bisque fired stoneware is matte. This luminosity is due either to the process of the evaporating engobe, which leaves a granulated surface that reflects lights, or to the juxtaposition of contrasting tonal values. The confrontation with a topic both classical and eternal allows Turi Heisselberg Pedersen to reveal the richness of ceramic matter and her personal imagination; she brings to it that strong sensuality which is her hallmark. Without any borrowed exoticism, her work exalts the senses, the primal feelings of the relationship of man with the earth. In appreciating her sculptures, the entire body of the viewer is involved and not only the sense of touch.

1 Technique: the raw material for Turi Heisselberg Pedersen’s sculptures is a Hungarian clay modelled using a Japanese technique of thick coils (3-4 cm) flattened or stretched before assembling. Once finished the work is fired a first time at 1260 degrees Celsius — the bisque firing — in an electric oven before the application of an engobe and a second firing. The engobe is sprayed on in order to allow a perfectly regular application as this type of engobe doesn’t melt in the oven and no smoothening is therefore obtained during the firing.

  • Opening Saturday, January 26, 2013 8 PM → 5 PM
03 Le Marais Zoom in 03 Le Marais Zoom out

48, rue de Turenne

75003 Paris

T. 01 42 76 00 33 — F. 01 42 76 00 10

Chemin Vert

Opening hours

Tuesday – Saturday, noon – 7 PM
Other times by appointment

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Venue schedule

The artists

  • Peter Neuchs
  • Turi Heisselberg Pedersen