The CRAC Languedoc-Roussillon will be presenting a one-off exhibition from 30 October 2013 until 2 February 2014 marking the return to France of British artist Hamish Fulton. The monographic exhibition, entitled En marchant ('Walking'), comprises new works, including photographs and wall paintings. It puts a new perspective on the work of this well-established 'walking artist' showcased in a number of institutional and private collections both in France and abroad and enjoyed on the international stage for over forty years.
Part of the family of 1st-generation conceptual artists, Hamish Fulton, who was born in England in 1946, has been travelling the world on foot since the 70s, immersing himself in the 'artistic walks' that for him represent solo performances. Educated at London's famous Saint Martin’s School, the artist realised very early on that art could not be confined to a workshop. As a result, and together with his friend Richard Long, he decided, at the beginning of this period, to seek the material he needed to create a work from the long walks he would take.
For him, 'walking transforms'. The intimate experiences of these hundreds of walks and the thousands of kilometres travelled are recreated in the exhibition through a series of photographs, wall paintings and sculptures. Indeed, it is on this transition from the private sphere to the public sphere that his approach is based. This conceptual artist was also one of the first, together with those of the Land Art movement, to have introduced so-called documentary photography to the field of contemporary art in the 70s. These peregrinations (which include Tibet, Nepal, Mont Blanc, Canada and Spain, to name but a few) echo others that he has done and are structured around geographical landmarks and measurement systems that he comes across. He literally penetrates the landscape, offering an increasing number of perspectives by means of this physical activity that involves his whole body. The walks are, in fact, incredibly revealing and challenge, or even thwart, our perception of the presence of art in public spaces. His body becomes a sculpture that adapts to the surrounding landscape. Be it in a natural or an urban environment, the artist interacts with it and with its inhabitants, establishing new relationships and new paths to travel on foot. The walks result in the creation of a series of highly resourceeconomic works that, despite being exhibited in a minimalist fashion, enable the spectator to allegorically relive specific moments of his travels. Walking becomes a vehicle for expression that in turn becomes a work of art: 'No walk, no work'.
Hamish Fulton completed a 23-day solo walk especially for the CRAC Languedoc- Roussillon project, during which he crossed the Pyrenees from Hendaye to Llançà, following part of the Spanish GR 11 hiking trail. The wall paintings and photographs produced as a result of this unique new experiment resonate here with other wall paintings, thus giving visitors the opportunity to follow the artist's lengthy journey along the coastlines and waterways he has followed, the roads and paths he has taken and the mountain ranges he has crossed worldwide over the years.
The expansive rooms of the CRAC Languedoc-Roussillon also help recreate the relationship of scale between the body and the natural environments that the artist played on. This gives the visitor an unprecedented physical and mental experience as they stroll around the exhibition; as we enter the landscape, we experience it through a pathway that challenges the units of time and space that we thought we understood when we entered the gallery. The exhibition continues with a selection of books and catalogues on the artist displayed upstairs, providing another opportunity to delve to the core of this work where the book rightly occupies a key role, as does text and language. Indeed, the text enables the artist to put his intimate experiences and the perspectives he offers of these spaces to one side in order to better share them with others and recreate them objectively, even universally, whilst often conveying a political or ecological message. A catalogue published for the exhibition will be available in early 2014.
Hamish Fulton lives and works in Canterbury (UK).
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