The distance between human and nature
「一方面，我的作品是關於自然和人，當中意念可能與人類的起源發生衝突。人們可從生態意識中了解到大自然母親的寶貴，她是所有生命的泉源。對我來說這是重要的議題，亦是集體意識的一部分。這些作品都是簡單且帶有詩意的敘述，必須代表自己說話。」—— Émeric Chantier
oil, mosses, and tree branches are the materials commonly seen in the artwork of the French artist Émeric Chantier. They are growing out of human body parts or faces of animals and covering the surface of the sculpture, like a dense forest. They all have different facial expression; some are frightened, some are meditating. This makes me wonder, how should human positions ourselves in nature?
In the solo exhibition of Émeric Chantier in A2Z Art Gallery, there was a figure of a child sitting in a sieza (traditional formal way of sitting in Japan) position in the middle of the venue. This peaceful position illustrates the two core values of Japanese culture — courtesy and apology — while bringing out the introspective behavior as seen in human beings. In ancient Japan, sieza was seen as a vulnerable posture. Nowadays, it is still considered as a proper etiquette in a tea ceremony. Through this work, the artist instigates an emphasis of self-examination with the future of nature, that human needs to be as humble as being in a seiza position.
Chantier uses chemical substances like polyurethane along with natural materials like soil and moss to create sculptures that represent the coexistence of nature/human, animals/manmade objects. His sculptures are doors that guide viewers to an endless expedition into nature. Chantier has given a touch of Asian culture to his latest series by using imitation Jingdezhen porcelain and Old Imari (Ko-Imari) style Japanese porcelain vases to house the botanical constructs. These objects were cracked as they were unable to contain the expanding natural form. Chinese elm trees play the role of Mother Nature, they represent the boundless energy of nature that can break through the vessel created by humanity.
“On the one hand, my work is linked to the nature and the relationship that man can have with the latter, a confrontation with our origins, an ecological awareness of the preciousness of our mother nature, the source of all life, a subject that is important to me and should, in my view, be part of a collective consciousness. […] These are simple poetic narratives that must speak for themselves,” said Émeric Chantier
Porcelain vases are a symbol of human creation, industrialization, and artistic creation. In the face of the power of nature, they are doomed to be cracked and overwhelmed. Human is exploiting nature, but will nature strike back at some point by creating an unstoppable disaster? Industrialism is a catalyst to climate change, Mother Nature will, sooner or later, react to it. We are so close to nature; in fact, we are part of it. Finding a way to coexist with nature is, unquestionably, an immediate issue that we cannot neglect.