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4000+ - vertical landscapes

The name of the exhibition: "4000+ - vertical landscapes" refers to the paintings' vantage points, which are all more than 4000 meters above sea level. They are mountain landscapes in level with the summits. At these heights the air is thin and the atmosphere clear and dark. The haze has been strongly reduced, which makes it difficult to judge distances and thereby, dimensions. Also, there are no people in the pictures, or vegetation, which might give an indication of the scales of the massifs. Our judgement in this area is suspended and it is no longer possible to sum up what has been sensed.

For a long time I have wanted to use the mountain landscape as an image of the pure, the virginal. A kind of last bastion of non-cultivated landscapes, which might simultaneously instil a sublime feeling. And I hope that some of those thoughts shine through the finished paintings. Kant describes 'the sublime' as a feeling which can only be reached when we, the human being, face the formless, the immeasurable, that which cannot be synthesised in our senses. That is the feeling, which I think the pure, rough mountain landscapes are able to call upon. The sublime, however, does not only emerge out of the formlessness, because nothing is clearer than those strongly illuminated sunlit mountains, which apparently reveal all. The sublime emerges on the very basis of the exaggerated clarity, which makes everything seem equally far away.

So, the pictures are not only meant as mere descriptions of landscapes, but more as an image of a condition, an image of clarity and purity, where the deep blue sky meets the blinding whiteness of the snow. The contrast between the snow and the sky is further deepened by the deliberate hyper real saturation of the paintings, where the white and blue tints are present in very pure mixtures. Likewise I try to remove the immediately recognisable from the individual mountain, and concentrate more on the separate elements of which the mountains consist: Ice, snow and rough rock. In principle then, the constellation of the elements might have had many other manifestations without this having affected the basic idea of the paintings.

The series also contains another, and more personal experiment: I wanted to see what was left if the conceptual and the narrative were not the prevalent in the paintings. Where it was not just a question of illustrating an idea as precisely as possible, but where the picturesque was the leading element: If it did not work as a painting there would be nothing left. I am trying to remove the conceptual safety net, which, in my case, has at times meant that the painting was finished in the very moment it worked conceptually, but not necessarily pictorially.

The sublime feeling, which may be expressed in the meeting with rough massifs, can only be passed on in the painting if it appeals to the senses. Here, it is not enough that we are able to make a purely intellectual reading, as, for instance, is the case in the entirely conceptual work. The mountain landscape is an obvious place for picturesque research because of its complexity, wealth of detail and monumental grandeur.

Bjørn Pierri Enevoldsen, october 2000

(translated by Helle Cavling)


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