Aesthetica Art Prize:
Picturing the Landscape

Humans have been inspired by nature for millenia. The desire to represent the world around us through pictures can be traced back more than 45,000 years and to the earliest figurative cave paintings of animals. Now, in 2023, creatives are still finding new ways to document the landscape. Here are five artists from previous editions of the Aesthetica Art Prize who take various approaches to the subject matter – from aerial views to digitised renderings. They push beyond documentation, speaking instead to our fraught relationship with the environment, and questioning notions of borderlands and nationhood.

Andrea Alkalay | 2022

Andrea Alkalay has always been drawn to materials and visual forms as tools and symbols. Alkalay is looking for the poetic and political potential that arises from the act of observation; photography’s ability to manipulate our perception. She is deeply curious about the “regimes of representation” – the information with which we are presented, and the manifold ways it can be interpreted – between we see and what we know. Artificial and natural elements are combined to infuse a sense of displacement into the work and thus question our societal realities, such as patterned beliefs. | @andrealkalay

Chia Yun Wu | 2023

Trees blur. Buttercups trail yellow smudges. Clouds fog beneath a translucent film. These are the mixed-media landscapes in Borderless Place, which reveal invisible borders within the environment as a reflection of the contrast between beauty and reality. Taiwanese artist Chia Yun Wu incorporates photography and printmaking into her practice to question existence and the human condition. “When working with art, life becomes inspiration, and my life cannot be separated from the place where I was born.” The images stretch the boundaries of reality and focus on freedom and belonging. | @wuchiayunstudio

André Lichtenberg | 2022

The Impossible Utopia series was started immediately after the Brexit referendum results were announced in 2016. For this project, André Lichtenberg shot the border between the UK and Europe under the moonlight. Each seascape was captured over several photographs – the details of which come together to create the final composition. The artist created representations of the border that has defined the UK’s geopolitical landscape. Here, photography is a tool to analyse, digging into the politics of visual culture. Lichtenberg is a German / Brazilian artist based in UK. | @andrelichtenberg

Enzo Crispino | 2021

This work is a study of 19th century English Vedutism on the two greatest exponents: William Turner and John Constable. The project used Constable as a source of inspiration. The idea was for the work to be built up as a modern interpretation of the pictorial movement. Crispino inserts images of a contemporary London as a precise reference to the well-known English landscape represented by the great painters of the past. In On John Constable’s footsteps, the artist took care to pay homage to Constable’s style. Sunlight bounces off the rippling water and dappled trees. | @enzo.crispino

Alice Duncan | 2021

Black Hole was created at Lake Mungo, Australia, on the traditional lands of the Barkindji/Paakantyi, Mutthi Mutthi and Ngiyampaa people. This site represents an often overlooked natural landmark. Since the discoveries of ancient human remains in the 1960s, Lake Mungo has been the location of an ongoing and often tense dialogue between Aboriginal people and descendants of settlers. The black hole motif connects Australia’s recent past with a much deeper one that needs to be examined through the lens of colonialism. Duncan is interested in the role image-making plays in national identity. @alicelduncan

The Aesthetica Art Prize is open for entries. Submit your work to win £10,000, exhibition and more.

Image credits:

1. Black Hole (Lake Mungo), (2020). Digital c-type print, 80 x 80cm. 

2. Chia Yun Wu, Borderless Place, (2022). Mixed-media. 48cm x 72cm.

3. Andrea Alkalay, Landscape on Landscape (2020). Manual photo collage. 130cm x 90cm.

4. André Lichtenberg, Pebbles Study 2, from the series Impossible Utopia (2021) Infused dyes sublimated on aluminium.169cm x120cm.

5. Black Hole (Lake Mungo), (2020). Digital c-type print, 80 x 80cm. 

6. On John Constable’s Footsteps and A Meeting with William Turner