Lines of Nature, 2021


archival pigment print

40.00 x 60.00 in

101.6 x 152.4 cm

Edition of 5

signed on reverse


About The Work

In this new body of aerial photographs, Zoe Wetherall shows not just the “lines of nature,” but their juxtaposition with the lines of man, and where the two come together. Her photographs capture sites where man-made objects intersect with nature, sometimes so slightly as to barely be visible; at other times the geometric composition is verdant, but entirely manufactured, like a zen garden that has been lightly raked into lines and circles.

Wetherall’s arid abstract landscapes, many taken in the Yarra Valley in Victoria, Australia include barely discernible animals and vegetation, and geographic and topographic and features. Zoe Wetherall’s photos are taken just above us, a bird’s eye view. All the photographs, in fact, were taken from the basket of a hot air balloon. From a few hundred feet Wetherall photographs straight downward, excluding the horizon, sky, or any visual reference point. She records the structured geometry of natural and man-made forms and uses her camera to reveal the beauty in the subtle patterns hidden in architecture and landscape.

While one would be tempted to liken them to another photographer’s work, like Edward Burtynsky's, they have a painterly aspect that aesthetically shares much in common with the color field painters and minimalists of the 1970s. The lack of a visible horizon flattens the perspective and depth and accentuates the subtle textures, geometric patterns and hues. The muted palette and many tiny intersecting and bisecting lines in “Yellow Grass” is reminiscent of Sol Le Witt’s compositions. And the swaths of color in Wetherall’s photos harken back to Mark Rothko’s color field paintings—except Wetherall’s photos actually encompass a literal “field.”

Working from a hot air ballon, Wetherall is given a set of decisions she can make before and during shooting, but also many limitations. She cannot redo a shot or go back, and while she can get closer vertically the control is very narrow. “Animals Feeding” was taken with the ballon very low, and as Wetherall tells it the shot could soon have been called “Animals Running.” Given her fore-planned set of parameters, Wetherall sets sail in the balloon specifically looking for patterns, texture, lines, shapes and colors, and a mixture of nature and man-made landscape. In “Runway” horizontal striations of green and burnt umber are interspersed with patchy dots containing tiny solid gray rectangles, and divided by rough ashen strips. And, while this picture is 100% photographic and non-manipulated, it could easily be placed amongst Gerhart Richter’s squeegee paintings and fit right in. The fact that the ashen strips are actual physical runways and the patchy dots with rectangles are probably outbuildings is a bonus.

Courtesy of Front Room Gallery

About Zoe Wetherall

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