Photography Exhibition Review
Into the Forest | Eva van Gorsel and Manuel Pfeiffer
M16 Artspace, Gallery 1b | UNTIL 4 SEPTEMBER 2022
Partners Eva van Gorsel and Manuel Pfeiffer are regular exhibitors at M16 Artspace. Their 2020 joint show Facets exhibited interpretations of the Australian landscape they had seen during a lengthy journey. Their works complemented each other as they revealed the same facets. Then, in 2021, they brought us Congruent-Incongruent using numerous diverse techniques and media to create varied, interesting and pleasing artworks.
Their 2022 exhibition Into the Forest aims to raise awareness of the role our forests have on our planet, our climate and our lives by showcasing the beauty of mostly regional treescapes and woodlands using imagery, sculpture and a sound installation. Along with growing numbers of people around the world, they recognise that the importance of forests cannot be underestimated.
Pfeiffer has a background in earth system sciences, graphic design and arts and shares a deep appreciation of the environment with Van Gorsel who was a principal research scientist in atmospheric sciences before turning to photography. The two artists asked themselves why it is important to show and appreciate the beauty of our natural environment and have offered an answer.
“In science we have pointed out the dangers of climate change before anyone cared to listen. With climate extremes now so extreme that they are getting hard to ignore many more people are aware that urgent action is needed. Many artists were early uptakers of that message. There is a long tradition of showing natures beauty. But many artists now also show the impact our disrespect of nature has on ecosystems. This is important work that is critically needed. But it is key that we do not get lost in despair. That is why we think it is important to show and appreciate the beauty of our natural environment. I think we are at a turning point where it becomes important to again remind us of what we can keep – if only we set our minds and actions to it.”
Van Gorsel’s works here are, perhaps, more traditional than she has shown in their previous two joint exhibitions. They are fine examples of this genre of photography, showing us numerous wonders of nature in our forests – birds, mist, and understory vegetation are just some examples. In every case, the available natural light is used beautifully – as all photographers should strive to do. Monochrome is used sparingly, but to great effect. Shallow focus is used wonderfully in others.
Pfeiffer’s contributions are equally pleasing, showing us the sights of the forests through his chosen media. A set of artworks of trees, bark and fungi using colour pencils on paper are simply lovely, with their wonderfully balanced light and peaceful hues. Others painted with acrylics on canvas, such as Dreaming Xanthorrhoeas, are equally successful.
His three pieces using wood are special features in the exhibition. A mixed media piece, The Wise, 2021, is the standout for me. Glass, a suspended small rock gently moving, wood and more combine beautifully into a piece to explore, a piece that also says much about nature.
All the artworks take us into the artists’ views of nature. They make us feel good – enabling us to see the colours, hear the sounds, smell the scents. All give us some comfort. And they make us want to be amongst the calming effects of forests and connecting directly with nature through our senses, seeking to reduce the gap that we have opened between us and the natural world. This exhibition very much invites us to reflect on how we humans have impacted the natural environment, and to ask ourselves what we as individuals must now do.