Artlyst recently attended Parafin London, which is currently presenting an exhibition of new work by the Chilean artist Fernando Casasempere. The show is the artist’s first exhibition in London since his monumental field of ceramic and steel flowers, Out of Sync, was installed at Somerset House in 2012. That piece has now been permanently installed in the Atacama Desert in Chile.
Image: Fernando Casasempere, A Death. Installation view, Parafin, 2015. Photo: P A Black © Artlyst 2015.
The acclaimed sculptor works with ceramics, exploring ideas of landscape and the environment. Conceptually the artist’s use of earth/clay and his concern with nature and ecological issues connects him to artists associated with the Land or Earth Art movement, such as Robert Smithson and Richard Long. Yet the artist brings with his practice a relationship with pre-existing ceramic works and architectural concerns.
Image: Fernando Casasempere, Stack 1, 2015. Stoneware, porcelain and mixed media. 89 × 63 × 51 cm. Photo: P A Black © Artlyst 2015.
But the artist is also profoundly inspired by the Pre-Columbian art and architecture of Latin America. Casasempere is inspired by the the Chilean landscape but also the processes by which that landscape has been exploited. In particular, the artist has worked with copper tailings, industrial waste materials produced by copper mining to make work that explores ideas around ecology and geology and to introduce extraordinarily rich colours and textures. Casasempere’s work is akin to an intervention between natural processes and the human exploitation of ecological and environmental materials – adding a temporal element to the artist’s work; the geology and time juxtaposed with intervention and time.
Image: Fernando Casasempere, Collective Memory 1, 2014. Stoneware and porcelain. 69 × 60× 70 cm. P A Black © Artlyst 2015.
Casasempere’s work calls into question the relationship between art and the environment, between culture and the earth itself from which the sculptures are made. Although his work is predominantly abstract, much of it can be read topographically, almost as a document of the landscape from which the materials have been sourced.
Image: Fernando Casasempere, Construction, 2015. Porcelain and mixed media. 150 × 37 × 94 cm approx. Photo: P A Black © Artlyst 2015.
Casasempere presents several groups of new work at the gallery. A series of works incorporate many tiny white forms recalling bleached vertebrae and suggest dessication and desolation but also purity, and are inspired by recent travels in the Atacama, one of the driest places on the planet. In some of these works the small individual forms are combined to create seemingly weightless ‘cloud’ structures. In other works many hundreds of the forms fill white clay boxes, suggestive of graves or burial chambers.
About the artist:
Fernando Casasempere’s work has been exhibited internationally since the 1980s. Recent solo exhibitions include Out of Sync, Somerset House, London (2012), Falla Ideologico, Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Santiago (2012) and Bricks and Mortar, New Art Centre, Roche Court, Salisbury (2011). Casasempere’s work is in international collections including the Victoria & Albert Museum, London and the Museu Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago. The artist lives and works in London.
Photos: P A Black © Artlyst 2015.
Fernando Casasempere: A Death – Parafin Gallery – until 30 January 2016.