Collection

Jaime, Alejandro

Paisaje expandido / paisaje contenido IV (2016)
Expanded Landscape / Contained Landscape IV

Oil on Photographic Print
height: 52cm
width: 80cm
Mixed Media

2-2017

This artwork is an oil on photographic print and is the fourth in a series of four pieces. Alejandro Jaime’s work explores transitory or fast-deteriorating landscapes and multifarious man-made structures. He examines the calamitous interaction and effect of man on such areas which when occupied by indigenous populations can include places that are sacrosanct. The artist deliberately obfuscates the boundaries between industrial and sacred places to highlight the dire consequences of mining. The pyramid Jaime paints onto the photograph is a direct reference to monumental, sacred architecture. The photograph, by contrast, makes a link to the cultural and industrial processes of modernity.

As such, Paisaje Expandido/Paisaje Contenido strongly relates to the themes already espoused by ESCALA in relation to human rights particularly in respect of the native inhabitants of Latin America and crucially the ruination of the environment. It is deeply evocative of the damage that man has done to the landscape by exploiting the earth’s resources in South America. The artwork portrays the exhaustion of natural mineral resources produced by open deep mine excavation. It features a photograph of the Chuquicamata mine in northern Chile, in operation for over a century and currently owned and operated by a Chilean state enterprise. It is reputed to be the largest open pit copper mine in the world by excavated volume.

The enormity of the destruction on the surrounding geography can be illustrated in scale by careful scrutiny of the artwork. The centre of the picture features a diminutive vehicle (presumably a works truck) traveling along one of the narrow roads carved into the sides of the mine. The artist has responded to the environmental disfigurement of a large triangular vacant hole in the ground caused by extensive removal of ore in copper mining. He has upturned this image of the void and represented it in the shape of a pyramid, which the artist has painted onto a printed photograph using oil paint. The use of oil paint references the tradition of landscape painting produced by traveller artists and explorers which were idealised scenes of nature.(1) The rust-coloured palette used to create the pyramidal form that Jaime inserts into the scene mirrors and imitates the colour of copper, which is symbolic of the ore extracted from this mine. He has implanted this pyramid into the depression. This act of filling in the void effectively blocks the cavity, perhaps symbolising the impossibility of further excavation. By this innovative stroke, Jaime turns a gaping gash in the earth which could be perceived as a “negative landscape” or “Expanded Landscape” into a “positive landscape” or “Contained Landscape."

(1) Katherine Manthorne ed., Traveler Artists: Landscapes of Latin America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection (New York: Colección Cisneros, 2015).

(Text taken from the exhibition catalogue for Gone to Ground, 2019)

Davies, Sue, 2019

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