Contemporary Observatory of Landscape in Art

The project Contemporary Observatory of Landscape in Art (OCPAP), belonging to the Art and Design Nucleus (NAD) of i2ADS, aims to focus the artistic production developed in the territory of the Iberian Peninsula, between 2000 and 2011, on the theme of landscape.

Nowadays, the definition of the concept of landscape reveals itself as a complex task. One can recognize that landscape, as a concept, was born with painting, just as suggested by Maderuelo (2005). Between the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries it was firstly adopted as a background and then, progressively, it became a genre with its own identity and autonomy. About five centuries later, in the XXI century, landscape definitely invaded numerous fields of knowledge. Different sciences, such as geography, botany, ecology, anthropology or other domains as architecture, urbanism, or economy, just to quote a few examples, adopted landscape to their own fields of knowledge.

This project has the main purpose of creating a contemporary observatory of landscape in painting, sculpture and photography, meaning the creation of an extensive and reliable database on the subject, where it is intended to include everything that was and is being made in these artistic domains and in the Iberian territory.

The idea of an Observatory relates, first of all, with the observation of Javier Maderuelo that we can find in El Paisaje (2006): “Landscape is a construction, a mental elaboration that men realize through the cultural phenomena. Landscape, understood as a cultural phenomenon, is the creation which varies from culture to culture (…).” Thus understood as “cultural construction”, landscape is not a definitive and limited concept, but an embracing and variable one, whose difficulties of a rigorous definition have to do with the different perspectives of the disciplines that study it, as well as with the cultural and individual differences of who’s observing it. A contemporary observatory of landscape in art intents to lodge in a broader sense the cultural specificity of different approaches and visions on the subject, creating new data that can encourage the current and future research and a consequent intervention on the Iberia territory and in contemporaneity.

A contemporary observatory of landscape is, most exactly, what its definition holds and constitutes: a center of information (data, views, perspectives, atmospheres) whose subject goes from the most faithful representation of what you see (the landscape in situ) to the plain and expressive recreation in a clear presentation of the author’s subjectivity (creator and/or researcher). In this last sense, the one of the subjectivity of landscape, we refer to “Art and Nature” (“Arte e Natureza”) from FBAUL (ed.) (2009) where Isabel Sabino, Joana Gomes or Juan Carlos Guadix describe cases in contemporary art where subjective interpretations of landscape are suggested. Thence, Joana Gomes tells us, in “Color and Light as Agents of Landscape/Atmospheric Mutation” that “the liberation of landscape summons up in its representation when the artist is faithful to his own vision and feelings and, therefore, he never falls short of the power that involves nature”. This project starts, then, from the evidence that there is, nowadays, a return to the subject of landscape, both in its scientific approach as in an artistic one. In the bibliography for this project, we will observe that a larger number of publications have the date of the 2000-2010 decade. Also, the 1st European Landscape Convention occurred in Florence in 2000, just as a bigger number of Conferences and communications on landscape are verifiable since that date.

The idea of approaching landscape through more specific artistic objects (painting, sculpture and photography) has its foundation on the principle of landscape as a “cultural construction”, in other words, as a construction of a determined group of individuals that capture from it, by representation and observation, an aesthetical sense that confers value to the place, proper or of origin, of landscape (within the consciousness of preserving it there, in its place), respecting it as much as possible by transporting to the objects of representation the creative aspirations or what from or to the landscape we aim. This has correspondence, in consciousness, to a constructive as well as positive process of creation of value that can prepare future research.

This project, then, aims to question the mode(s) of “how to say the landscape” but also “what it is said about landscape”. In the end, to inventory in the sense of a rigorous perception of what exists and, on the other hand, to investigate in the sense of absolute consciousness of what can be art from the paradigm of landscape and, in that way, the possibility of a new approach to contemporary art.

Project Coordinator(s) António Quadros Ferreira
Start - End Date 2013-01 / 2015-01