Richard Long and his journey within
Technology has found its greatest ally in contemporary solitude. Its principal manifestation may well be the ‘selfie’, a self-portrait which shows that we exist, a type of “Look! I was here!” multiplied frenetically via social networking sites with posts that frequently begin with the word ‘I’.
Richard Long has been there, done that. He has been in the Himalayas and the fields of Bolivia, in the Scottish mountains and the Sierra Nevada, and through his travels he has created a path of his own, one he has forged with his own footsteps, and explored mounds of stone which have never succumbed to inclement weather
From exploration to art.
Richard Long walked 534 miles over 18 days in the spring of 2014, from Cordoba to Santiago de Compostela. It says so, in enormous letters on a wall at the Contemporary Art Centre (CAC) in Malaga, facing a mural which is also enormous and which Long has produced with water and clay, a sea of brown trunks amid which, like an atavistic spell, a dark woodland appears and calls to the spectator like the song of a mermaid.
“Everything I do is a result of my physical capacity, including the walks, the sculptures and the murals, which I do very quickly… my body is my principal working tool,” explained the artist at the recent presentation of ‘Cold Stones’, the exhibition which will remain at the CAC Malaga until 21st August.
This is an opportunity to see the introspective yet vibrant work of a primordial artist in the development of ‘land art’, the trend which places the focus on Nature and the landscape.
In this way the stone, wood, mud and the landscape itself becomes the raw material with which Long works, but these are not just simple materials: they are elements of an experience, which the artist transfers to his works. Because Richard Long takes this link between man and the environment into his personal terrain. There are the grey granite stones forming a cross between the marble crags of Macael (Almería), and all the rocks forming the ‘Circle of Sally’. The artist explains that Sally was his grandmother, who met his traveller grandfather in Madrid and is buried in the English Cemetery in Malaga.
Dedicated to Sally
“This work is dedicated to her,” says Richard, whose links with these places on the map are also displayed in ‘Muddy Water Wall’, the other ephemeral piece produced specifically for the exhibition at the CAC. A painting, a woodland, upon a wall: 4.5 metres high by 31.4 metres long. And on the wall opposite, in enormous letters, the details of that walk, which Long did two springs ago, crossing the country from south to north.
Another walk. Another description. Another spring. Now, between the full moon and the new moon, in the Sierra Nevada. And opposite the details, another circular work: ‘Bark Circle’ (1995), a circle measuring eight metres in diameter, made with pieces of bark from cork oaks.
“I am pleased with this exhibition, because it covers different aspects of my work: the sculpture, the mural, the photography, the walks,” says Richard Long, who has exhibited at the British pavilion in the Biennials of Venice (1976) and Sao Paulo (1994), won the Turner Prize (1989) and is a Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters of France (1990).
During his career, this artist has reflected upon something primordial: how each tiny element of nature is unique. “Every stone is different and my work wants to test that idea and show off the infinite variety that exists in the universe,” he explained at the presentation of this exhibition, which is curated by the director of the CAC Malaga, Fernando Francés.
“I have never associated Richard Long with land art before,” says Francés. “There is something special about him. The experience of exploration is a journey within, and it has a Zen component which is very unusual in western art. Rather than the idea of modifying nature to give it permanence, his pieces are small interventions waiting for the wind to destroy them.”
A journey within. The only one possible, in the end.source surinenglish