Member Spotlight l NILS-UDO

Monday, December 25, 2023 9:04 AM | Anonymous


December 25, 2023

This week we recognize Art-in-Nature artist  NILS-UDO  NILS-UDO and        his decades-long practice creating site works with natural materials, as well as his current painting practice.

A passage by the artist to describe "THE NEST," 1978 (above), including rocks, birch trees, and grasses, made in Germany:

"I smelled the earth, the stones, the freshly struck wood. I built the nest walls high and twisted the soil of the nest. From the height of the edge of the nest I looked down on the forest soil, up into the branch work of the trees and into the sky. I heard the singing of the birds and felt the breath of the wind. In the dawn I began to freeze. The nest was not finished yet. I thought, high above on the edge of the nest squatting: I build myself a house, it sinks silently past the tops of the trees on the forest soil, openly to the cold night sky and nevertheless warmly and softly, deeply into the dark earth dug." 

 click images for more info

In 1998, NILS-UDO was invited to create an outdoor site installation in the Santa Monica Mountains, in Topanga Canyon (Los Angeles County, California), off Old Topanga Canyon Road in Red Rock Canyon Park. The artist chose a cave where he assembled one of his signature nests for this iteration, made with Arundo donax, a lesser bamboo that grows along Topanga Creek. Considered an invasive species, great care was taken to remove the work after several days. Visitors to the cave were taken by surprise, then learned about his site works made around the world and became protectors of the work until it was removed. Some local residents even made a daily pilgrimage. The off-site work was included in the exhibition Art & Nature, curated by Patricia Watts for Julie Rico Gallery, Santa Monica.

"Nature becomes a platform on which the artist layers a discourse of human intervention in relation to the scale and dimensionality of landscape as well as the life forms therein. A sense of the ephemerality of life is inscribed onto the landscape in these ever-changing artworks. We see his work in documents, photos, and catalogues more often than we will see them in reality, and their ephemerality is an omnipresent theme—nature plays the central role, with the artist as intervenor, someone who sensitizes viewers to their links to nature." John Grande

NILS-UDO began as a painter in the 1960s before creating his site-specific works in nature. He continued to paint until 1980, then focused exclusively on his nature installations until 2004, when he returned to painting as well. For the last twenty years, he has made dozens of paintings from memory and photographs. And, though most of his work has been made in and with nature, the artist considers his photographs as the primary artwork. He learned photography out of necessity to document his site work.

HABITATS is an installation created in 2022 (below) in the heart of Champagne, France, at Taissy Vineyards. As part of the countdown to the Vineyard's 300th anniversary in 2029, they commissioned the artist to create a work that would highlight the links between humans and nature, and to promote biodiversity. The installation sculptures, or nests, are made with vines and branches extracted from the vineyard to give them a bocage appearance (hedged fields). Oak trunks found in the surrounding area during forest maintenance operations form the bases of the sculptures, and young pines from regeneration work carried out in the neighboring Montbré forest are used for the branches. The artist’s ultimate dream? That birds nest there. That the bees take their place in the small holes dug in the trunk to make room for them... "Let the squirrels, caterpillars, butterflies, ladybugs... follow."

NILS-UDO       (born 1937) is a German artist from Bavaria who has been creating environmental art since the 1960s, when he moved away from painting and the studio and began to work with and in nature. He began in the 1960s as a painter on traditional surfaces in Paris, but moved to his home country of Bavaria and started to plant creations, putting them in Nature's hands to develop and eventually disappear. As his work became more ephemeral, the artist introduced photography as part of his art to document and share it. Perhaps the best-known example of his work for the general public is the cover design for Peter Gabriel's OVO. The artist seeks to offer a mutualist vision wherein nature as environment is an omnipresent backdrop. In revealing the diversity in a specific environment, he establishes links between human and natural history, between nature and humanity that are always there yet seldom recognized. NILS-UDO uses natural materials, such as sticks, petals, and branches, to create site-specific installations.

Featured images (top to bottom): ©NILS-UDO,      THE NEST, 1978, rocks, Birch trees, grasses, made in Germany, photo documentation; Red Rock Nest, site-specific installation in Topanga Canyon, California, off-site work included in exhibition Art & Nature at Julie Rico Gallery, Santa Monica, California, January-February 1998, photo documentation; Small Lakeearth, 2000, water, Hazel stakes, Butterly Orchids, old leaves, made in France, photo documentation; Painting 1058, 2015, oil on canvas; Habitats, 2022, oak trees, pine trees, grapevines, at Taissy Vineyard, Campaigne, France, photo documentation; Portrait of the artist at Taissy Vineyard.

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