La forêt est là et me regarde

Christiane Pooley

21 May > 2 July 2016

The ambiguous and complex relationships between Man and his environment is the central theme in the work of . In the latest series of paintings she is particularly captivated by the notions of territory and territoriality. Pioneers, adventurists, migrants and hikers are placed in a landscape, which is often unstable, dreamlike and cruel. The artist refers to collective imagination using the Chilean National Archives as well as her own souvenirs to question collective and personal memory of a place.

"Collectively, the paintings evoke the allegorical function of 19th century romantic landscape painting, owing Caspar David Friedrich in his pursuit of the sublime quality of landscape as a self contained emotive subject."1 Christiane Pooley uses this function to echo her questions, doubts and fears concerning the possible conflicts between different identities emerging on the same land. La forêt est là et me regarde (2013-15), shows Chilean troops during the occupation of Araucanía in the 19th century. This region of the south of Chile, where the artist grew up, is always involved in territorial conflicts, underestimated by the authorities.
Intimidations, attacks, arsons… is the common experience suffered by a rural population - an indigenous population as well as the result of immigration and miscegenation - living, working and depending on these lands for generations. "The victims find themselves at the center of a violent dynamic of a phenomenon which they are not responsible for, nor that they can solve." Nature, being pushed into the background of this image, is becoming more and more reduced to the idea of its simple possession.

To some scenes demonstrating this significant power Christiane Pooley opposes more intimate images as En el silencio de las selvas del nuevo mundo, una felicidad imaginaria (2016), or the series of Paisaje e Historia (2014-16), or We journey towards a home (2016) painted on copper, which is a medium that takes us back to her interest in the symbolic and evocative qualities of the materials. In her work she intuitively juxtaposes thin layers of landscapes, narrative fragments and abstract pieces, like a geologist inspecting different strata of the ground. The apparent tranquillity of these intimate scenes refers to the contradictory discourses on the belonging to a territory. How can we reconcile these multiple identities emerging on a same land? How can we ensure that everyone has his place and the right to exist?

The works produce a decelerating effect on the narration where different images and timeframes are mixed up, confused and intertwined, creating a space to question painting and, perhaps, a space for reflection to develop these tensions of the past which are still present today.

1: Laura Morrison, Christiane Pooley : Los Bordes del Mundo, Galería Patricia Ready, 2015

2: Marcel Oppliger Jaramillo, Los Chilenos Olvidados, RiL Editores, 2013

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