Rise and Fall is an immersive installation of recent works by Teresita Fernández.
For the artist’s second Hong Kong exhibition, Fernández will debut 24 solid graphite and pencil landscapes as an immersive installation. The relief panels, depicting the rise and fall of the tide and shifting horizon lines, are densely arranged on graphite-colored walls where Fernández has extended the blue-hued images by drawing directly on the wall surface. The result is a site-specific installation with thousands of blue horizon lines that rise and fall, surrounding the viewer. The title of the show, Rise and Fall, is also a reference to how this term is used to describe the rhythm and swinging pendulum of power and social movements throughout history.
Fernández has long questioned the traditional genre of landscape through abstracted interpretations of the land where history and materials mined from the ground are layered, becoming what she refers to as “stacked landscapes” that suggest being in more than one place at one time. Fernández often uses materials physically extracted from the topography they depict, creating experiential environments that disorient and complicate the idea of place by asking viewers to locate themselves both physically, historically, and metaphorically within the works. Large-scale projects such as her monumental Fata Morgana (2015) in New York City’s Madison Square Park, composed of a mirrored canopy that reflected and refracted the tens of thousands of pedestrians who traveled daily beneath the suspended artwork, demonstrate her unique approach to the genre. Fernández explains: “I’m interested in the idea that you are an extension of the landscape, that you are a part of it and it is a part of you. You look at the landscape, but it also looks back at you.”
Graphite has been elemental in Fernández’s practice. Her research on the history and origin of pencils led her to a graphite mine in Borrowdale, England, where the material was first discovered and mined in the 16th century. This rural site of subterranean raw graphite is the source from which pencils were historically first made, which crystallized the concept for Fernández of a drawing that is both dimensional material, actual place, and drawn image. Through her meticulous reconsideration of place and perception, both personal and cultural, Fernández leverages natural materials such as graphite to create works that reflect their own origins. This method of artmaking invites an expansive understanding of landscape, as well as the greater cultural and historic implications of depicting the natural world.
The work in Rise and Fall expands upon this premise, using raw graphite and pencil to create luminous scenes. The mountainous horizon separating water and sky is a reference to island geography, such as that of Hong Kong. The articulation of the landscape in this series appears dipped in a metallic liquid, an effect of the unadulterated graphite used by Fernández that is reminiscent of artist Robert Smithson’s Pour works, whom Fernández has cited as reference. In those works, Smithson used viscous materials like glue or concrete to cascade over a landscape, treating the earth itself as a canvas. Rise and Fall can thus be read within this art historical context as both landscape painting and land art, an amplifying of the term “landscape” that Fernández continues to explore.