LORENZA DIAZ: Sublime landscapes as dystopia
In the 21st century, when the continents on planet earth have largely been travelled and explored, utopias of life underneath the surface of the sea or on other planets are no longer treated as part of a potentially distant future. From a current scientific point of view, the earth is our sole available and conceivable habitat.
The increasingly used term of the Anthropocene (ancient Greek: ἄνθρωπος and καινός, ‘the man-made new’) identifies our present as a geochronological era of its own, thus acknowledging the central position of mankind and the extent of human influence on the biological, atmospheric and geological processes of the earth, and its subsequent changes. From this perspective, nature on earth has through man been transformed into one total ‘landscape’. Against this background Lorenza Diaz’s paintings can be seen as landscapes where humans no longer play a role but where we may discover alleged traces of human civilization.
The artist Lorenza Diaz creates landscapes on the border between figuration and abstraction, and envisions an imaginary, rough and hostile world. The paintings are characterised by a certain emptiness, a lack of any points of reference which would allow a temporal or geographical classification. The landscapes lack the traces of an initiator. Therefore what we see can be interpreted as both prehistoric landscapes just after the big bang and the formation of the earth, but also as a dystopia, a glimpse into the distant future, when all life has become extinct and nature has incorporated the ruins of civilization. Only in some of the paintings are there a few visible structures which may be interpreted as references to the past, as witnesses or traces of a passive decay, where there is no further narrative content to be found, there is no historicity, neither a past nor a future.
What Diaz‘s paintings have in common are the study and the representation of atmospheres, of fog, smoke or haze, which cover and thus veil, wrap or hide large parts of the landscapes. The character of the wafts
of fog and smoke vary from wet and cool vapour to cold and humid damp, to hot and toxic steams, to the mouldy stench of decay. The portrayal of fog and haze oscillates between meteorological detail and pictorial means, siting Lorenza Diaz’s paintings in the tradition of anterior depictions of nature. Painters around 1800 (Caspar David Friedrich for example) used similar methods, which on the one hand made the image identifiable as a ‘natural phenomenon’, while at the same time shifting the view towards the opaque and abstract. While Romantic and sentimental landscapes worked towards the limits and a reassessment of the aesthetic experience and capturing of nature, by contrast the paintings on display seem to present us with a relentless swan song for the exploration of nature in the medium of painting. The art of the Anthropocene might generally be obliged to complement our fundamentally humanised nature with perspectives which put into focus what escapes this radical ‘humanisation’ of everything living, that which remains inaccessible, nebulous and disparate."
Text by Mareike Spendel & Agnes Hoffmann