Pablo La Padula
March 1–May 21, 2021
A trained biologist, Pablo La Padula positions his art practice as a means of understanding the world beyond scientific mandates. He spurns the conventional method of classifying objects and prefers instead to learn from nature directly, without preconceptions, in an attempt to adopt the perspective of his prehistoric ancestors. In 2019, he visited Saint-Tropez for the first time as part of an artistic residency. Taking on the role of naturalist, the artist ventured deep into the Maritime Alps to experience for himself what the first explorations of the virgin forests might have felt like, tapping into the sensations and reactions that primitive human beings may have had. Through this process, he collected objects and captured images to create a kind of alternative cartography of the territory.
These materials form the basis of the exhibition “Before the Landscape,” which also includes a selection of works on paper that La Padula produces by exposing the surfaces to smoke from a candle flame. Hanging side by side in the central gallery space are two untitled polyptychs from 2019: one of twelve monochrome drawings, arranged in three rows of four, and another of five paintings, tinted with the addition of blue and green pigments. For another untitled piece from 2019, the artist treats small rocks found in Saint Tropez with the same smoke-and-pigment technique to create “stone objects.” These are mounted in clear boxes on individual pedestals. La Padula combines some of these “stone objects” with other marine and plant species on a light-box table for his installation Mediterranean Cabinet, 2019–2021. The effect is a raw encounter with the wild beauty of nature, styled as its own science.