I was drawn to this exhibition by its intentions to loosely re-interpret a classical landscape painting in three-dimensional form. The piece itself didn’t suggest these painterly origins to me. However Cornaro also aims to explore our perception of reality, and walking inside the work to examine it from all angles engulfed me in Cornaro’s constructed reality, delivering an experience that was active and engaging.
According to the accompanying text, ‘Cornaro uses found objects imbued with symbolic potential or emotional value, which she presents in different types of display and media to reveal the subtle shifts of meaning provoked by processes of reproduction and translation.’ It was clear that objects chosen were carefully considered. They are offered for our inspection presented on plinths, but not all are easy to see; one has to balance on tip toes to catch a glimpse of some. The inclusion of rolls of fabric were unusual and intriguingly. Overall, I felt the objects themselves were perhaps less important, whereas their method of display and precise placement were not.
Cornaro intends a structured composition that ‘reinforces the illusion of perspective.’ As you move within the installation, dark plinth monoliths jut, loom, intrude and block one’s gaze. Copper reflections interrupt, subtly pulling the viewer into the installation.
This exhibition was thought provoking. It left me very aware of the relative passivity of the viewing experience of a wall-based piece of work in contrast to the more active opportunities offered by an installation.
Isabelle Cornaro, Paysage Avec Poussin, until 5th April 2015, South London Gallery
Images: Paysage avec poussin et temoins oculaires (version VI), 2014, 1155 x 670 x 280 cm