I Wish I Could Climb: Proceeding in Landscape
by Greta Scarpa, Curator and Art Consultant
The sense of adventure and that of conquest are naturally sit side by side to one of the most desired natural, wild landscape and an old human challenge: The Mountain. As an antipode to every adventure, home is the emotional location and the anchor to every expedition. Lucia Kempkes' research combines outdoor fantasies and domestic reality through materials merging objects like carpets, outdoor equipment, paper, and graphite into an environment in-between the desire for adventure and resting at home. This body of works pushes the limits of drawing by taking space in the form of installations, in new materials and scale. Additionally, it integrates digital aesthetics as a possibility of a contemporary depiction of landscape. In this regard, we need to evaluate the crucial necessity of the digital aesthetics entering the classic idea of landscape, precisely because the Cartesian depict of space is today in crisis. The contemporary society requests of us a multi-layered mind, sight, perceptions and actions, the exact way we behave with our technological devices: We live simultaneously in different open windows. Lucia Kempkes, thanks to drawing as a symbol of an analogic approach, is capable to give us back a cross-section of a society still looking for an identity able to balance the desire of conquering with that of resting and rethinking its way of living. The subjects are depicted in chiaroscuro, free from colors as if they were seen with a sort of detachment. The artist is not emotionally engaged with them and she is not seeking a contemplative or sublimated experience by the observer. On the contrary, we are in front of an analogical display showing a veduta of any mountain. Even during her trip on the Atlas Mountain in Morocco in spring 2019, the artist has never looked at the mountains in order to copy them. She was rather concentrated on the floor in front of her, which is the perspective we have during our climb, while we desire the panorama at the peak. This position brought Kempkes to conceive a big installation piece that takes the public right into a steep climb, detailed in rocks and surface. The wool and carpet grid fabric elements are here deconstructed; we have just portions of them serving as grafts. In the past the wool (in form of carpets) was present to itself entirely, representing a domestic habitat and acting as a counterweight to the explorative desire. But now, these elements are like positive, regenerating and restorative bacteria. Lucia Kempkes' uses the mountains as a metaphor to talk about the human being and his outputs. The act of climbing - a multiple meanings word - is a spontaneous instinct in humans, something that connects us to our ancestors, space, geography, careers, richness, and so on. The process is to contemplate, to explore, to conquer and finally to exploit, the aim is to go forward and repeat. All this is placed in the nation-state context, as an imperative of modern Europe. The artist asks herself what is the shifting meaning between nature and humans, and what are the social and political consequences of these radical changes. Landscapes have always been a classic element in the history of art and Lucia Kempkes' research navigates the possibility of a new depiction of the genre in contemporary art, while investigating which cultural and identity space nature has in our lives.