Absence is Presence : deserted pictures

26 August 2021

There are many figurative works in which Human is not present. Natural or urban landscapes, views of interior or exterior architecture, we can no longer count the images in which human being is largely absent. However, absence can be a way of being present, and Man can be guessed, notably through the point of view of the artist who becomes a demiurge.

Here we present a selection of works that question perception in several ways, for whereas it is true that the world only exists through the senses, humans can recreate worlds in their minds. These uninhabitable worlds summoned by the intellect are not, however, inaccessible, and are among those in which one can immerse in Art. These "art worlds" which populate the works, if they are deserted, carry with them the negative trace of a human presence which inhabits the places by its absence, and it happens moreover that human absence constitutes alone the aesthetic interest that animates these worlds.

Joachim Van der Vlugt is a contemporary Dutch painter whose painting is strongly influenced by the classical painting of the Dutch masters. A real confrontation between abstraction and figuration, his natural landscapes seem to be images of dreams. Using a classic oil painting technique, he creates effects of transparency and superimposes natural elements and abstract geometric forms. The hybrid natures of these images already confer an aura of unreality to his works, an impression supported by the absence of any human presence. However, humanity can be seen behind the great sensitivity that emerges from these works.

Admist in thunder, Joachim van der Vlugt

Human absence is notably made presence by the artist's gesture but also by the objects that appear in the more figurative-looking works. Indeed, in the same way that it is possible to see the Demiurge in all things of nature, Man appears through all his constructions. Thus, the works of the German painter Emanuel Schulze, insofar as they stage architectural elements, inevitably summon the human being, yet absent from the environments he represents, even despite the obvious inhospitality of the latter.

Vorort, Emanuel Schulze

Finally, human absence occupies a very special presence in places that humans have deserted. The Englishwoman Gina Soden has decided to devote her career to all these abandoned places, each deserted room of which is inhabited by the memory of a time when it was the scene of human lives. True palimpsests, these places tell the story of humans, which can be guessed by their absence.

 Villa Verde, Gina Soden