Artist
Irene Kopelman
See images of Work

77 Colors of a Volcanic Landscape
Graphite on paper
30 x 30 cm

A few centuries ago, art and science were not such different and separate fields as we know them today. They had many points of correlations and coexistence. This project intertwines a variety of such points; on one hand the tradition that comes from drawing and examining nature through travel accounts, on the other hand and closely related to it, the study of colour which was carried in the area of science, in order to communicate and describe its discoveries.
2016

77 Colors of a Volcanic Landscape
Oil on canvas
200 x 200 x 2 cm
2016

A few centuries ago, art and science were not such different and separate fields as we know them today. They had many points of correlations and coexistence. This project intertwines a variety of such points; on one hand the tradition that comes from drawing and examining nature through travel accounts, on the other hand and closely related to it, the study of colour which was carried in the area of science, in order to communicate and describe its discoveries.

50 Meters Distance or More
Watercolor on paper
2010

Over the course of 26 days, Kopelman documented the stark Antarctic landscape all the while braving the cold, rain and snow. The spatial constraints of the boat, its constant movement and the harsh climactic conditions came to form integral parts of the work. Her observations of the Antarctic territories were recorded in a series of pencil drawings and small watercolors, exhibited in several glass display cases similar to those found in museums of natural science for showing fossils and rare specimens.

During the journey, Kopelman was compelled by how naturally the landscape of Antarctica lent itself to painting; the light and shadows, the subtle gamut of whites and blues, everything appeared as if it had been captured on canvas. Upon her return to the studio, she produced several large-scale oil paintings that represent a central part of the exhibition. These works, as with much of her work, come into dialogue with the tradition of Romantic landscape painting, attempting to locate some essence or feeling beyond the domain of the seen.

Following in the footsteps of the traveling artists and naturalists of the 18th and 19th centuries, Kopelman produces a record of a little documented territory for others to observe, enfolding her particular experience. Although the discovery of Antarctica was contemporaneous to the invention of modern photography, Kopelman’s apprehension of the landscape is mediated not only by photos she has seen, but also by entire pictorial traditions from the scientific renderings of the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt to the expressionist landscapes of Monet.

50 Meters Distance or More
Oil on canvas
200 x 415.5 x 5 cm
2010

Over the course of 26 days, Kopelman documented the stark Antarctic landscape all the while braving the cold, rain and snow. The spatial constraints of the boat, its constant movement and the harsh climactic conditions came to form integral parts of the work. Her observations of the Antarctic territories were recorded in a series of pencil drawings and small watercolors, exhibited in several glass display cases similar to those found in museums of natural science for showing fossils and rare specimens.

During the journey, Kopelman was compelled by how naturally the landscape of Antarctica lent itself to painting; the light and shadows, the subtle gamut of whites and blues, everything appeared as if it had been captured on canvas. Upon her return to the studio, she produced several large-scale oil paintings that represent a central part of the exhibition. These works, as with much of her work, come into dialogue with the tradition of Romantic landscape painting, attempting to locate some essence or feeling beyond the domain of the seen.

Following in the footsteps of the traveling artists and naturalists of the 18th and 19th centuries, Kopelman produces a record of a little documented territory for others to observe, enfolding her particular experience. Although the discovery of Antarctica was contemporaneous to the invention of modern photography, Kopelman’s apprehension of the landscape is mediated not only by photos she has seen, but also by entire pictorial traditions from the scientific renderings of the German naturalist Alexander von Humboldt to the expressionist landscapes of Monet.

Lianas
Graphite on paper
21 x 29 cm
2012

Lianas form an interesting presence in the tropical forest, they are literally everywhere. Once you begin to better understand this ecosystem, you realize that these lianas are very complex and not necessarily a gentle presence to their surroundings. On my first trip into the rain forest I thought that lianas were responsible for the “visual mess” of this landscape.

Forest Windows
Gouache on paper
18 x 24 cm
2012

The Manu Learning Center. I am here. What does it mean to write these words? It’s beautiful here, and terrifying at the same time. Does this experience, affective and impossible to describe, belong to nature exclusively? Or should I ask: What is nature’s exclusive appeal, inasmuch as I’m always drawn to these landscapes, even beyond my desire to draw?

Forest Windows
Installation view
2012

Esto es una papa
Graphite on paper
Serie of 18 dibujos. 21 x 30 cm
2011

This project was something I thought of over the course of many years when a Peruvian friend—speaking about my work in a tangential and associative manner—told me about a man in Peru the people call “the Potato King”; he is an elderly man who has spent his entire life cultivating the largest possible variety of potatoes.

He began to relate my work to the story of the potatoes because of the way in which they represent an infinite number of forms—and my evident concern with them—as well as the kinds of forms that at times seem more related to geological forms than to what one might imagine a ‘potato’ to be. The only thing that I could find out about the Potato King, Leonardo Timoteo Salcedo, was from an article in a newspaper where he vaguely indicated his place of residency.

Esto es una papa
Watercolor on paper
21 x 30
2011

This project was something I thought of over the course of many years when a Peruvian friend—speaking about my work in a tangential and associative manner—told me about a man in Peru the people call “the Potato King”; he is an elderly man who has spent his entire life cultivating the largest possible variety of potatoes.

He began to relate my work to the story of the potatoes because of the way in which they represent an infinite number of forms—and my evident concern with them—as well as the kinds of forms that at times seem more related to geological forms than to what one might imagine a ‘potato’ to be. The only thing that I could find out about the Potato King, Leonardo Timoteo Salcedo, was from an article in a newspaper where he vaguely indicated his place of residency.

Looking at Trees
Watercolor on paper
57.5 x 76.5 cm
2008

Again, Kopelman sets her eyes on the glaciers, as she did for her first show at LABOR, 50 meters away or more (2010), but this time she does so trying to grasp them in their relationship to avalanches. If her first encounter, in 2010, was a direct confrontation with the landscape and a reflection on the attempt on its representation, this time the relationship with the glaciers is filtered through the link that the artist has established with the scientists she traveled with, and through the understanding of their methods and hence of these ecosystems.

The origin of the landscape as something beautiful, worthy of representation, could be dated back to in the sixteenth century, with the paintings of Joaquim Patinir. Its subsequent exaltation takes place in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when artists dare to leave their ateliers to go, finally, to encounter the outside and around them, drawing ‘natural’.

Radiolarians
Ink on Japanese paper
30 x 40 cm
2012

Paintings based on a collection of micro fossils brought back from the Antarctic plate following Robert Scott’s ill fated Terra Nova expedition of 1910, and now held at the Natural History Museum in London.

The Levy's Flight
Drawings and ceramic pieces
Dimensions variable
2009

The Levy’s Flight is an installation which took form alter a research visit to the ‘Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park’ in October 2008. During the visit I realized a series of drawings, sketches for a series of sculptures and a huge number of photographs. Back in the studio, the material underwent a series of conceptual filters till it reached the form in which was presented at the Montehermoso.All the pieces had as departing point elements of that landscape.

Bio

Cordoba, Argentina, 1974.
Lives and works in Amsterdam.

Irene Kopelman reads her practice within the notion of models.The artist uses the term models as the instance of materialization between the thinking process and the word. Her work is inspired by this concept, which is used by most of the disciplines of knowledge. Many areas of studies generate models with the aim of granting access to and subsequently organizing the world (for instance models of the planets in astronomy, chemical models in order to represent the atoms, archeological models to represent lost civilizations and even abstract, but not formal, models as it would be in the case of mathematical or economical models).

Kopelman hopes to make evident that it is impossible to enclose the complexity of things in departmentally tight categories: During the 19th century, a scientific project needed to force things into categories in order to visualize the rules to which they respond and organize the world in a logical system. This was a fundamental process to schematize how we look at things and simplify it to the extreme, thus overlooking any singularities.

The artist wishes to explore the link in between two sources, the direct contact with the landscape and the mediated contact with it via the museum collections. She is keen to search for a way to put together these elements, working towards a generation of a narrative, which will emerge when all these components coexist. This dynamic of difference and repetition is the central axis of my work.

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Exhibitions
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