We Ate the Forest

We Ate the Forest

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10 am – 07 pm, Tues – Sat, 25 May – 27 July 2024
Galerie Quynh
118 Nguyễn Văn Thủ, Đa Kao, D.1, HCMC

From the organizer:

“The forest eats itself and lives forever.” – Barbara Kingsolver, The Poisonwood Bible

But what happens if we eat the forest?

What does it mean for the forest to be consumed, and what will be left in its wake among our stark realities of environmental degradation and ecological imbalance?

Nadege David’s solo exhibition, We Ate The Forest, borrows its title from the 1957 book Nous avons mangé la forêt (We have eaten the forest), which refers to the agricultural practices of Vietnam’s indigenous Mnong people and written by the late anthropologist Georges Condominas. David’s new paintings, situated in our current era of the Anthropocene, thrust us into dense, saturated forests filled with myths and tales that unfold in a world populated with animals and vegetation pulsating with vitality and energy.

Drawing inspiration from the naturalist and philosopher Alexander Von Humboldt (1769–1859) who emphasized both scientific study and emotional connection with nature, David elevates nature beyond serving as a backdrop for human activity, making it the central character in the multiple and complex narratives that play out in her fantastical scenes.

In her new work, David’s exploration transcends previous boundaries and delves into the significance of plants and other lifeforms with newfound intensity. This marks a notable departure from her earlier paintings, where she explored the sensorial experience of the human body, reinterpreting flesh through the lens of perception rather than relying solely on her scientific understanding.

An installation of tree branches emerges from the void at the entrance of the gallery opening a gateway to a mysterious forest where verdant greens hover freely, evoking the imagery of a cotton candy forest. It is within this enchanted realm that David sets nature free in the world she seeks to create. Central to her practice is the exploration of the microcosm to comprehend the macrocosm. This transformative journey reshapes her forest landscapes and unveils the outlines of elusive creatures, some resembling the iridescence of an oil spill. Verdant hues deepen, tinged with a mossy slime-like quality, while whimsical images of misshapen primates, perhaps inhabitants of a distant future, evade conventional anatomical representation yet oddly seem completely ordinary.

In The Persistent Fantasy of Substance, the contorted form of a wounded creature dominates, its back in an eerie twist; fish heads sway from tree boughs seemingly poised for flight or ascension in On the Need to Contain; and a pig is carried by the forest foliage, almost protected in I Will Eat Your Head And Your Head.

Within the surreal tableaux, the aftermath of curious events plays out in a post-Anthropocene microcosm of the impact of the biological, physical, economic, and political activities of our current world.

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