Tag Archives: Nature

Oh deer

I discovered this photo at an exhibition of work by Korean artist Ahae, The show, which is supported by the Louvre takes place in a purpose-made tardis-like building, reminiscent of a bird-watching hut. You can find it in the Jardin de Tuileries.

The epicentre of the exhibition is an oval room which takes inspiration from the nearby l’Orangerie museum’s display of Monet Water lilies, which is appropriate as the colours and patterns in Ahae’s photos instantly remind you of Impressionist brush-strokes. This is interesting as although we normally associate photography with its capture of reality, this exhibition reminds us that the image taken by a lens is just as subjective as a painting, especially with today’s technologically powerful camera equipment. It must be added though, that although Ahae uses state-of-the-art telescopic lenses, he stays away from manipulation of lighting and software such as Photoshop.

But real or hyper-real, these photographs are beautiful, they sweep you away to another place, to an enchanted garden. Soothing music and a relatively quiet gallery make the whole experience, as they say in France ‘zen’.

Large print format is often used to create the effect that you are actually looking through Ahae’s window. In the field he sees from his house, he observes nature in action; magpies picking on a baby deer, a flock of herron in flight, the shimmering rising sun. The initial impact was so overwhelming, I’m definitely going back for another look.

However, the incredible moments Ahae captures were not down to luck, Ahae took two million photos over a period of three years, and the result is far from repetitive, there is so much to see.

100 words on Ahae

Born in Kyoto, Japan in 1941, where Ahae’s family were located during Japanese colonial rule. At the end of WW2 he returned to his homeland in South Korea where he has spent most of his life.

He holds a black belt in Taekwondo, is highly trained in Judo, and has developed his own martial art. He started his own business at 35, inventing innovative products, holding over 1,000 patents and trademarks.

He has always worked to make sure his business activity does not harm the environment and is now focused on organic farming. He took up photography in the 1970s.

Photo © 2011 Ahae Press, Inc. All rights reserved.

AHAE, ‘Through my window’ at the Jardin des Tuileriesuntil August 19th Free entry

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Blooming marvellous

Vincent Van Gogh – Almond Blossom 1890

I spent last weekend in Amsterdam, one of my first stops being the Van Gogh Museum. It was a great place with so much to love but this painting made the biggest impression on me, and many others judging by the amount of products bearing its image in the gift shop.

My love of the painting reflected how happy and relaxed I felt that day. I was in one of those sickening ‘everything is beautiful’ moods, which completely overrides rain, crowds and 7am train journeys. Actually, even if I’d been in a rubbish mood I’m sure this picture would’ve snapped me out of it. The calming colours and the fragile blossom’s promise of spring takes you to a lovely, lovely place.

For me it was the bottom of the garden in my childhood where a small apple tree grew. During this time all that mattered was how many different insects I could find in the rockery and how long I could stay outside and play.

Although Van Gogh worked directly from nature and was teased for it by his peers including Gauguin, he was also enchanted by another world; Japan. Van Gogh’s studies of nature were explicitly influenced by Japanese landscapes. The museum shows the direct studies of Japanese prints that Van Gogh made. He also followed the Japanese ethic of representing the sensations that nature brought out in him, rather than focusing on technical accuracy. The ’frogs-eye view’ was an important aspect of this; looking up at nature as if a small creature. This painting is a perfect example of this.

The museum’s labelling gives you a lot of insight into the kind of life that Van Gogh led. He wasn’t the happiest man, which was a strong contrast to my chirpy mood that day. I knew that he was obviously a little extreme, cutting your ear off is never a good sign, but the museum gives a thorough chronology of his state of mind, for example details of the time he spent under medical supervision and the resulting works.

It’s amazing that this painting could come from such a troubled mind. It is easy to assume that an anxious psyche would create images of evil, however Van Gogh instead concentrated his energy on beauty. This tree was one of Van Gogh’s final paintings as he died soon after as a result of shooting himself in the chest. His mental health had been deteriorating for some time with the intensity of his paintings strengthening as his sanity weakened, he was even beginning to receive critical acclaim.

Apparently the painting represented a ray of light in his otherwise turbulent life. The happy moment was the arrival of his nephew, who had been named Vincent after him. The tree was painted in his honour; perhaps this explains the blossom representing new life.

Often, when I’m in an uncomfortable situation, to use a recent example, at the dentist having a filling, I think of a peaceful place to trick myself into being more relaxed. Normally it’s a beautiful beach in Sardinia, but now this will be replaced with Van Gogh’s blossoming almond tree.

Image courtesy of the Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)
Post also appears on Artsharks

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