Wales is presenting its first solo exhibition by a female artist at the Venice Biennale this year. The Arts Council of Wales has selected Helen Sear to represent Cymru yn Fenis / Wales in Venice at the 56th International Art Exhibition. Curated by Ffotogallery, …the rest is smoke will feature works which connect the local landscapes of Wales to the context of the Biennale. Sear is widely regarded as one of Wales’ most significant contemporary artists, having lived and worked there since 1984. Her body of work explores the crossing of boundaries between photography and fine art, and she was joint winner of the visual art prize at the National Eisteddfod in 2011.
Sear comes from a background working in fine art, particularly film and installation work in the 1980s, as well as live performance. Having moved from fine art to photography, the artist explores ideas of vision, touch, and the representation of experience in her work. Sear combines photographic work with drawing, digital technologies and lens-based media, thus challenging the established notions of photography and documentary.
Her current pieces show a real sophistication and maturity, the result of an exemplary track record for producing conceptually rigorous work of a high quality, and …the rest is smoke is no exception. Sear’s movement within the notions of photography, video and sculpture shows fantastic discipline and command over the multi-media nature of her production process. The artist focuses largely on the co-existence of human and animal worlds, as articulated by her disregard for the boundaries within the fine art and photographic spheres of influence.
Ffotogallery will lead the exhibition, having long championed Sear’s work throughout the decades. The artist herself is delighted to have been selected, citing the opportunity to represent Wales at Venice as “an ambition of mine for several years”. She goes on to add that “the photographic image in art practice has never been so diverse or contested”. With the introduction of new digital technologies within the worlds of fine art and photography, Sear’s focus on the material presence of the image in her work marks her out as a largely significant contemporary of the art scene in Wales.
Helen Sear, …the rest is smoke, Cymru yn Fenis/Wales in Venice, La Biennale de Venezia, 9 May-22 November 2015. Previews: 6 -8 May.
To find out more, visit www.ffotogallery.org/international/wales-venice.
Additional details can be found at www.labiennale.org.
Follow us on Twitter @AestheticaMag for the latest news in contemporary art and culture.
1. Helen Sear, Pond, video still, 2011. Courtesy of the artist.