Martin Asbæk Gallery is proud to present Natural Fantastic, British visual artist Helen Sear’s second solo exhibition at the gallery. From the unfurling of the first bracken leaves on the forest floor to the falling of a giant pine Sear reanimates processes of growth and decay through multiple exposures and layers incorporating close observation and a performative approach to the act of image making. Helen Sear borrows the title from French surrealist Roger Caillois. Unlike other social theorists, Caillois indicated a poetic capacity inherent to nature, rather than the disenchanted, this-wordly perspective still dominant today. It is this sense of magic that Sear seeks to re-present in her work.
In the series Flatbed Rococo Sear has scanned wild ferns and plants growing along the pathways of the forest near her home. In addition to their depiction in early 19th century photography, ferns are imprinted as fossils dating from over 55 million years, marking their evolutionary success.
Using a humble flatbed scanner as both camera and loom she works with the visible glitches that mark the process of scanning as if they were tangible threads, to weave both time and depth into new images of this prehistoric plant. Reminiscent of raw silk, the combination of machine and hand produces a trompe l’oeil effect, referencing the asymmetrical decorative scrolls of the Rococo style and celebrating the life force of this ancient plant.
Helen Sear (b. 1955) studied Fine Art at Reading University and the Slade School, University College, London. Her work first came to prominence in the British Council’s exhibition De-Composition: Constructed Photography in Britain from 1991-1998, which toured extensively throughout Latin America and Eastern Europe. She represented Wales with a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2015 and her work has recently been purchased by The British Government Art Collection and the Hyman Collection. Other collections include British Council, National Museum of Wales, Al Dabbah Group Art Collection, Manfred Heiting Collection Museum of Fine Art Houston Texas and the DZ Bank Frankfur,t Germany.
She has been invited to make a solo presentation for the 19th edition of Fotographia Europa 2024 in Reggio Emilia, Italy, as part of the exhibition Nature Loves to Hide.
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