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Press release, January 2009

Press release, January 2009

Dans l'univers de Beckmann et N'Thépé - Ecole supérieure des arts et de la communication (ESAC), Pau
Mount Isa - Image/Imatge, Orthez
January 16 - March 7 2009

On a trip to the north of Australia, the country she originates from, Heidi Wood discovered the city of Mount Isa. Struck by the rudimentary nature of the local habitat, she documented it in a series of photographs. Mount Isa is a rich mining town founded less than a century ago and situated in the northwest of the state of Queensland. The city developed around a prosperous industry into a vast, featureless urban sprawl. The images render the phenomenon through a selection of intermittent constructions between ultramarine sky and red ochre ground. Each photograph is associated with a collage of home decorator adhesive, which follows the characteristic outlines of mining buildings, in a contrasting, even garish combination of two surface effects that are almost antinomical. On one side is the horizontal, minimal, geometric, functional and banal residential architecture of pale corrugated iron and on the other, the residual signal of the mine in a sort of kitsch picture. The elements of the diptych fuse to produce an archetypal image of the city.

In Paris, following a professional encounter with an architecture agency, Heidi Wood discovered with interest the work of Beckmann and N'Thépé. In a body of sketches and collages, she undertook a study into the visual identity that emerges from their different projects. These were distilled into three abstract forms in three colors that she placed on a background in a vast wall painting.

In Orthez, the exhibition Mount Isa takes the form of a series of diptychs, enhanced by wall paintings also inspired by the analysis and synthesis of a specific urban landscape.

In Pau, the exhibition Dans l'univers de Beckmann et N'Thépé (In the World of Beckmann and N'Thépé) is organized around this large wall painting of three motifs, shown alongside a selection of works that document her progressive filtering of information.

In both cases, it is essentially the working method that is on show. More than a definitive result, the artwork is more a service provided. The artist operates by suggesting an image (in the sense of brand image). In a given situation, an environment or an activity, Heidi Wood comes up with a range of motifs around which the visual identity of that thing is condensed. More than an illusionist representation of the object of her study, the artwork imposes itself as a suggestion of signs (we could say of signals) that offers one possible take on the visible.

For a decade, Heidi Wood's work has explored the relationships that our environment upholds with the history of forms and in particular, those of modernity. In the great tradition of painting, she reveals what lurks behind appearances.

Philippe Coubetergues
Translated from French