The photographs presented in this solo show proceed from Gérard Dalla Santa's research into landscape that is anchored in two traditions: that of documentary photography and that of outdoor landscape painting (Corot, Courbet, Pissarro and Cézanne…) that considered the topography as well as the historical and collective dimension of landscape. Temporal markers punctuate the work of Gérard Dalla Santa, who captures, in the present tense of photography, the intersection between the time of landscape and the time of its representation. In his recent landscapes of river banks, the artist employs the picturesque and the banal to reveal a newfound lyricism, allowing living beings - human and animal - to enter the field on equal terms with nature.
Dalla Santa's work echoes the writings of English historian Simon Schama, whose seminal and exceptional publication 'Landscape and Memory' (Vintage books, 1995) draws upon science, geography, politics, literature, religion, art, architecture and mythology to weave a narrative of the 'necessary union' throughout history between civilization and nature. Avoiding the usual duel of conquering mankind vs. passive nature, Schama, seeks instead to reveal what binds them. To paraphrase Schama's introductory text:
"If...our entire landscape tradition is the process of a shared culture, it is by the same token a tradition built from a rich deposit of myths, memories and obsessions. The cults which we are told to seek in other native cultures - of the primitive forest, of the river of life, of the sacred mountain- are in fact alive and well and all about us if only we know where to look for them.... Instead of being yet another explanation of what we have lost, (this book) is an exploration of what we may yet find."
For Gérard Dalla Santa, these images do not evoke a nostalgia for things past but are instead a proposal for the repairing of a damaged world.