13.11.18 – 25.01.19
Hong Kong – 11 October 2018 – Puerta Roja is proud to announce Nature Paintings, a major solo exhibition by Chilean artist Fernando Prats, debuting the artist’s Paintings of Birds series in Hong Kong for the very first time. Since representing Chile at the 54th Venice Biennale, Prats has reached international acclaim for devising a brand new and deeply personal pictorial system. Far removed from the instruments of the painter, his process results in unconventional and unpredictable images generated by nature.
Prats records natural actions on smoked surfaces, ranging from movements of animals, to powerful waves, seismographic vibrations and even imprints of geysers shooting water from the ground (an intervention possible thanks to the Guggenheim Fellowship). French theorist Paul Ardenne describes Prats’ work as pioneering “a new way of painting,” exposing not only the invisible beauty of nature but also the violent and destructive reality of the fluctuating environment.
“We are excited to bring Fernando Prats to Hong Kong this November to debut his mesmerising series, Paintings of Birds” says Adriana Alvarez-Nichol, Puerta Roja Founder and Director.“I believe Fernando represents Puerta Roja’s philosophy, by marrying a profoundly intellectual and conceptual discourse with a very poetic and robust aesthetic. I feel that these works are especially pertinent to Asia given the deeply rooted Taoist beliefs in relation to the destructive and creative balance of nature, as well as an understanding of the invisible connections in our universe. Prats’ body of work is relevant now more than ever as we continue to be faced with serious environmental issues. We believe it is important to use art as a vehicle to address such matters and we hope that the work of Fernando Prats will unravel a new perspective on the relationship between human society and the ecosystem.”
In his renowned Paintings of Birds series, the artist’s hand gives way to the free and fleeting beating of the bird’s wings making a rhythmic and majestic imprint on the smoked surface. The motion of the bird is frozen in time through a process in-between abstraction and sequence photography, capturing a linear pattern of movement that is both controlled and random. The artist builds a structure around the canvas, allowing the birds to fly freely between a net and the flat surface of the support. While the marks themselves are produced erratically in a matter of minutes, the conditions in which the imprints are created are carefully orchestrated by the artist – a constant motif demonstrated in his many series of works and arduous creative expeditions. The exhibition will also include action paintings produced with wild Andean Condors that today are an endangered species.
Although Prats has been based in Barcelona since 1990, his work is deeply connected to the telluric conditions of Chile. At the 54th Venice Biennale, he presented three projects documenting his expeditions and ventures across the country, including the Antarctic and areas affected by earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, reflecting his focus on the study of environmental conditions.
Commenting on his debut in Hong Kong, Fernando Prats says “An important aspect of my work is the direct link to the territory. There is a symbolic relationship between my native Chile and Asia, and particularly Hong Kong, which arises from the ruggedness of the mountainous landscape and the forces of the sea, as well as from the impact of natural catastrophes and their correlation with the contemplation of time. Presenting my work for the first time at Puerta Roja in Hong Kong provides a continuity to my work, which reflects my understanding of nature as an active source of energy in constant movement.”
The artist will be live-painting a new work from his Paintings of Birds series at the Hong Kong Art Gallery Association’s upcoming symposium Looking Up: Remapping Hong Kong’s Art Scene in the Era of New Connectivity and Ruptures, to be held on 16 November 2018 at Asia Society. In the spirit of Puerta Roja’s commitment to its Hong Kong roots and in recognition of Prats’ focus on raising awareness of human connection to the environment, the resulting work will be donated to The Nature Conservancy and auctioned by Sotheby’s at The Nature Conservancy Gala Dinner, taking place in March 2019.
By conducting a live painting in Hong Kong, Prats highlights the power and beauty of Hong Kong’s captive birds, hoping to make an imprint of the now waning Chinese tradition of song-bird keeping and Buddhist animal release. As these practices continue to decline through successful education, animal rights and environmental protection initiatives, the artist’s imprint will reference a past where birds were treasured as companions, giving way to a new and better appreciation of these animals in their natural environment. When commenting on his live action paintings, the artist states “The imprint of the birds is captured with the sensitivity of the smoke, turning the action into a receptacle of live energy. When you create a painting with the beating of the birds’ wings, what you see is the design of flight, a symbol, and an act of de-composition, where the birds’ action becomes a trace of memory, a record and a form of language.”
“We are honoured to have Puerta Roja supporting The Nature Conservancy with other leading galleries and artists taking part in The Nature Conservancy’s 2019 Gala Dinner for our conservation efforts in Asia Pacific to build a sustainable future for all. Covering more than a third of the world’s surface, the Asia Pacific region is home to some of the planet’s most unique ecosystems and endangered wildlife. However, a warming climate, a growing population, and our need for natural resources are threatening our environment as never before. We deeply appreciate that Fernando Prats is supporting our fund-raising initiative with his art that highlights the connection to the beauty and power of nature” says Moses Tsang, Global Board Member and Co-Chair of the Asia-Pacific Council of Directors of The Nature Conservancy.
Nature Paintings by Fernando Prats will be on view at Puerta Roja in Hong Kong from 14 November 2018 to 25 January 2019