Helene Schmitz — Jardins engloutis — Carnivores



Helene Schmitz
Jardins engloutis — Carnivores

Past: October 22 → December 4, 2010

A whole section of Western art and literature attributes a “kind innocence” to nature. Thus, when it takes the shape of a garden, it is often a metaphor of Paradise Lost… In the series Hidden gardens and Carnivores, Helene Schmitz places the symbolic at the heart of her work. Yet far from the idyllic vision, she focuses on the more obscure side of nature, on its insatiable, menacing, sometimes cruel aspects, and the representations we make of it, the projections we associate with it.

With the poetry of Sunken gardens and the realist beauty of Carnivores, the artist questions these fascinating spaces where nature and culture meet and overlap. She takes us to secret, captivating universes, awakening mixed feelings of both attraction and anxiety. This ambiguity in her photographs is manifest in the formal approach through the coexistence of great sobriety and an exaltation of colour and light.

Sunken gardens
This project was born during a trip Helen Schmitz made to the Surinam jungle, following in the footsteps of an 18th century Swedish naturalist. It deals with something lost: rare traces evoking human presence are dominated, absorbed even, by wild nature. Thus, in her photographs, we contemplate locations partially concealed by vegetation giving us a feeling of witnessing something that once was.

For two years Helene Schmitz worked on the Carnivores project. The artist was fascinated by the predator botanicals, confronting given ideas about the beautiful, peaceful and passive plant as on the contrary, they attract, catch and devour their victims. Aiming to better grasp their particularities, the artist has chosen to take the carnivores out of their natural element and photograph them in a workshop under artificial lighting.

Helene Schmitz was born in Sweden in 1960. She currently lives and works in Stockholm. She graduated in History of art and Cinema and teaches Photography, focusing on her own creations in the nineties. Since then, she regularly shows her work, mainly in Scandinavia. In France, her works have been exhibited on several occasions: in Mois de la Photo (1996) the Swedish Cultural Centre showed a very moving series Living rooms about her childhood home devastated after a fire. In 2007 in Paris, the Jardin des Plantes hosted an open air exhibition of her works. This spring for Transphotographiques the Palais Rameau in Lille exhibited her series Blow Up — portraits of very large scale flowers where the personality of each specimen seems revealed. Presentations of Helene Schmitz’s work have also taken place in the USA, South America and Japan.
Part of her activity is dedicated to publishing books; the book A passion for Systems (System och passion — Linné och drömmen om Naturens Ordning, 2007) was rewarded by the Royal Swedish Library and the Swedish Publishing Prize.

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The artist