Nathalia Edenmont: Force of Nature
January 19, 2016 – May 1, 2016
Organized by the Arkansas Arts Center and Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York, New York
Nathalia Edenmont: Force of Nature is the artist’s first major American museum solo exhibition and features ten, richly colored, large-format photographs. Five of the photographs, including Eden, a self-portrait of the artist, are recent works and have never before been exhibited. Force of Nature is organized by the Arkansas Arts Center and Nancy Hoffman Gallery, New York, New York, and is presented in conjunction with the Garden Club of America Zone 9 annual meeting, which occurs in Little Rock, Arkansas, in late-April 2016.
Born in 1970 in Yalta, Ukraine, on the Crimean peninsula, Nathalia Edenmont moved to Sweden by the age of 20, realizing that life in the former Soviet Union was disintegrating and held no future for her. Sweden was a country that welcomed immigrants and to which she could easily get a visa, as the artist was orphaned at the age of 14 when both her parents had died and she had no other relatives.
At age 27, Edenmont was accepted to the Forsbergs Skola to study graphic design. At the school her artist-mentor, Per Hüttner, encouraged her to visualize her inner pictures and to try to capture them with the camera. All of Edenmont’s photographs derive from her life experience. “I only look inside my head,” the artist explains. “What I see in my mind is what I create. I do not sketch; the image is complete and sharp within me. I have absolute control over all aspects of what I do.”
Using a large-format Sinar camera with 8x10 film and many lenses, Edenmont works with a team of eight to twelve people over ten to twelve hours to compose a single “shot.” She has two camera assistants—both professional photographers—a hair stylist, and a dressmaker. It is Edenmont herself behind the camera, communicating, talking with the model, and waiting for the perfect instant to capture the model’s soul on film. Themes she explores are: time, beauty, fragility, death, metamorphosis, transformation. Beauty is the armor that surrounds the women she photographs—many of them blonde, as many Swedes are blonde; others have Edenmont’s red tresses and are representative of the artist at different ages of her life.
What each figure wears is central to the meaning of each work. The artist’s “portraits” reflect intensity, each subject stands expressionless and motionless against a pitch-black background, cloaked in flowers revealing only her neck and shoulders; light emanates from within. They are, as art critic Meghan Dailey describes, “without motion but not without emotion.” It is the “flower pile” or dress the artist composes that tells the tale, sometimes with birds or snakes, sometimes with fresh flowers or vegetables, and at other times with wilted blooms. “Since my childhood I have heard that woman’s beauty is like a flower, it passes quickly,” Edenmont says. “That is why I switch from fresh flowers to dry and very old. I see much beauty in dried flowers. I grew up as a Russian Orthodox and in the cemetery the fresh graves covered in flowers looked like my flower piles from which I compose my dresses.”
Edenmont was twice a recipient of Konstnarsnamndens Arbetsstipendium, awarded by the Culture Department, Stockholm, Sweden. Her work has been exhibited internationally, including: Alingsås konsthall, Alingsås, Sweden; Borås Konstmuseum, Borås, Sweden; Galerie Leger, Malmö, Sweden; and Wetterling Gallery, Stockholm and Gothenburg, Sweden. She also has shown at Aida Gallery, Moscow, Russia; Backfabrik, Berlin, Germany; B&D Studio Contemporanea, Milan, Italy; Gallery Eighty, Singapore; and Park Ryu Sook Gallery, Seoul, South Korea. Edenmont’s photographs are contained within numerous private and public collections, including: the Borås Konstmuseum, Borås, Sweden; Moscow House of Photography, Moscow, Russia; Whitespace, The Mordes Collection, West Palm Beach, Florida; and 21c Museum Hotel, Louisville, Kentucky.
Featured Works from the Exhibition
Tipton & Hurst
Dr. and Mrs. Charles Cole
Kara and David Dowers, for Annie Dowers