dive into Inigo Taylor’s latest photographic work

No depiction of nature in all its infinite variety of forms and moods, whether landscape painting, poetic description, or photographic record of the open countryside, exists without a hidden allusion to myth. of the pastoral ideal.

Among the earliest poets of antiquity, Virgil was the ultimate inspiration of landscape and man’s deep-rooted nostalgia for Arcadian bliss, an idyllic natural setting, and a primitive state of calm and contentment. His elegant sketches of landscapes of the Aeneid have been sedimented in the collective memory through the centuries.

Girgenti

A central text of the Roman education system since Augustus, it has been studied, memorized, and its exquisite phrasing engraved on the walls of Pompeii. He sowed the seed of a universal desire for the most enchanting dream that has ever given comfort to mankind: the myth of a golden age in which man lived on the fruits of the earth, peacefully, piously and in primitive harmony with nature.

As I try to avoid this classic view as I enter the sphere of Inigo Taylor’s latest photographic work, my mind returns to that other world with its Virgilian landscape and fullness of life. It’s not really there in front of me, loud and clear, but I sense in his photographs an irresistible thirst for an age of innocence that’s all but been left behind.

Miġra l-FerħaMiġra l-Ferħa

There is a frustration in what I see, an almost desperate need to capture the last remnants of a pristine landscape, vulnerable and a victim of cruel and neglectful exploitation by local inhabitants. It is a kneeling landscape, it seems to say, but although it is delighted, it continues to be generous and benevolent and to delight us.

No stern warnings are contained, on the other hand, in these images, no moral elevation or timely reminders of how things could be.

Yet these photos, taken in the present day of intense materialism, convey a sense of latent tragedy. This is all the more poignant as the underlying catastrophe is not conveyed by the presence of booming construction sites, structures of armed cranes breaking the horizon or clattering machines gnawing at the green shoulders, nor symbolized by clouds. dark clouds bursting with rain or a brewing thunderstorm. beyond the peripheral rocks.

St. Paul IslandSt. Paul Island

On the contrary, these landscapes are bathed in the luminous mist of a blazing summer afternoon or saturated with a springtime serenity. Traces of man’s passage are there, in the form of tire tracks or signage, but the images are mostly devoid of his physical presence. This makes them all the more powerful and fragile at the same time.

There is just one charming detail in the collection of images of the Maltese countryside that undoubtedly foreshadows impending change.

Wied il-QlejjaWied il-Qlejja

In a photograph that captures a sunny day in Wied il-Qlejja, a lone surveyor works with his theodolite, pointing his instrument towards the valley, a somewhat ominous harbinger of darker things to come, while the photographer, in turn, points his lens towards the little earthling in the distance. There is no judgment in this look back from the observer. Rather the opposite; the distant view, taken from a high vantage point on Mosta Bridge, has the quality of the eye of God in the sky, far above, loving and forgiving. All this surrounding natural beauty is a gift to man, but can it be trusted?

“The photos in this collection bear witness to the photographer’s enormous respect for the landscape he depicts; reverence even »

One of the most admirable qualities of these photographs is their spontaneity. One may be surprised by the apparent arbitrariness of what is depicted here, as if the artist were content to stare at what was in front of him as he sat down to lunch or rest en route to another location.

Yet these recordings of real places and real moments contain pure, charming, sometimes humorous, and always far-reaching visual information.

The inspiration is the work of Robert Adams and the exhibition held in New York in 1975, titled New topographies: photographs of a landscape modified by man. He continues to be true to Goethe’s statement: “I shall never rest until I know that all my ideas derive, not from hearsay or tradition, but from my actual living contact with things themselves- same.”

Yet for all his stylistic anonymity and lack of artistic flourishes, his avoidance of classical standards of beauty and composition, I couldn’t help but draw connections between Taylor’s work and other cult paintings. well known in the history of Western art. The little man collecting snails in the foreground of a beautiful seascape bordered by cliffs and shrubbery reminded me of Brueghel’s account in The Fall of Icarus, contrasting the cyclical nature of the seasons and the linear trajectory of hubristic ambitions of man.

Wied il-MielaħWied il-Mielaħ

In another photograph, taken at noon in the height of summer in Wied il-Mielaħ, an insightful play of perspective places a random horse placidly and precariously atop a drystone wall, a layering reminiscent of Mannerist horses by Giulio Romano painted above the doors of the Palazzo Del Te in Mantua.

Primarily, the photos in this collection are containers of the enormous respect the photographer has for the landscape they represent; reverence even. But this is not fortuitous.

These images were created when Taylor was expecting to become a father. The valleys he captures are symbols of the return of the seasons, of the cycle of life and, in particular, of the moment when, as with the arrival of spring, life begins to stir within the earth, bringing with it a promise of the future. It is no coincidence that all his photographs are bathed in a serene light.

Wied QirdaWied Qirda

Despite the man’s disruptive and clumsy intervention, they promise that redemption is still possible. Because if the work of Virgil and the poets of Antiquity already evoked a golden age, is it not possible that nature continues to build a way of restoring an eternal balance between nature and the interventions of nature? ‘man ?

maltese, everlastingcurated by Justine Balzan Demajo and hosted by Studio 87, Ta’ Liesse Hill, Valletta, is ongoing until March 25. Check the event’s Facebook page for opening hours.

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