Consciously shaping the spirit of nature with Art
Nature is the art of God (Dante Alighieri). Is there a better way to connect two such sublime concepts such as art and nature?
Whether you are religious, agnostic or atheist, it is about understanding that only a superior force, you can call it God or the Universe, is able to produce a piece of work as perfect as Nature.
Therefore it´s not anything new or a kind of fashion that man finds in the natural environment a perfect source of inspiration to express himself and give the world art in its purest form.
Some people pay tribute to art through a careful observation of what perhaps nature itself wants to communicate to us.
If this happens, it is almost impossible to establish where the artist’s work ends and when the natural elements themselves speak directly to us.
The Role of Nature in Art through History
The relationship between art and nature is like a beautiful love story: knowing each other was enough to make them always go hand in hand. Thus, this binomial has shaped artistic practices and art theories throughout history.
In the Upper Palaeolithic, man not only represented it, but also endowed it with symbolism and fantasy. Imagine how fascinating it is to enter the mind of an artist from over 40,000 years ago, capturing his vision of the natural world, using caves as canvases.
From a classical point of view, in ancient Greece art sought to imitate nature as the most perfect creation. While in Romanticism, it was praised for its sublime appearance. In Impressionism, the emphasis was on the light and on its most ephemeral side.
In its unconsciousness, however, humanity has abused our best ally and provider, exploiting its resources to the point of devastation. And what was the reason? Satisfying the demands of an increasingly consumerist life with a short expiration date.
All this has led to the rise of collective movements pursuing a respectful approach to the natural environment, including the artistic field.
Thus, a vision favouring understanding and direct interaction with nature arises in a dialogue between equals. In the 70´s, nature went from being only content to transforming into the action field itself.
Nowadays, many contemporary artists turn to protest as a way to condemn irresponsible human intervention in nature. Others, as in my case, choose to tell the stories that natural elements themselves tell me, from olive tree trunks, junipers and other unique pieces of wood coming to me, revealing their secrets in the form of sculptures and works full of life.
Examples of art with the 5 natural elements
Evoking the theory of the Five Elements from the traditional Chinese philosophy (which I told you about in my post about Fengshui), I would like to show you some simple art examples inspired by this classification on the constitution of all things.
Wood: Modelling without Limits
The noblest material of all. Nothing like being guided by its natural forms and learning how to listen to it in order to discover the history and the face it wants to show us.
Wood carving is one of the most widespread practices throughout the world since ancient times. There are no limits when representing concrete or abstract objects on it.
Wood sculptures express both the artist’s emotions and the wisdom and experiences protected by the material itself.
For example, I have recently discovered the pleasure of working with epoxy resin in symbiosis with wood, therefore witnessing creations full of magic.
Fire: Creating with an Iron Hand
One of the options is playing and creating works of art with iron, steel or any metal moulded by heat. This is the spirit of fire.
When we talk nowadays about art or sculptures in iron or another metal, we usually link it with modernity.
However, its existence dates to very ancient periods, ranging from jewellery and ornamental objects to architectural elements.
When joining metal with other materials such as wood, art works of great character and harmony are born. Personally, I am devoted to this glorious combination.
Water: Eternal Source of Inspiration
The symbolic power of this element, source of life, turns it into endless inspiration. Artists and designers feed from its stream of beauty and life force.
Although fountains would be the most typical artistic representation encompassing this element, it is not the only one when using the most incredible and original forms.
Water can also be reflected in paintings playing the most prominent role. And in sculpture, its undulating shape and movement can be emulated in static materials, thus defying the senses.
Earth: Land Art or the Art of the Earth
In the 60´s and 70´s an artistic style emerged named Arte de la Tierra, Lant or Land Art. Faithful to its simple and straightforward name, this conceptual art trend returns to its origins.
Using nature itself as a material (wood, earth, stones, branches, water, wind, etc.), the work is generated in its own space, creating an interesting fusion between sculpture and landscape architecture.
Many of the works remain outside, at the mercy of changes and erosion caused by the environment.
Although this could lead to its disappearance, the documented record of the work remains and, if it is the case, also the experience of the artist and the spectators.
Air: Breathing Art in Freedom
The luxury of exhibiting or enjoying art in the open air is not exclusive to Land Art. Any artistic manifestation (sculpture, painting, photography, dance, theatre, etc.) choosing to display its message and essence in the open air will inevitably transmit to us a rebellious spirit refusing to be guarded by rigid structures.
Works and exhibitions in forests, parks or in the middle of the city make us partners by being integrated into our environment and not within walls. Ultimately, art becomes more universal.
Are you Attracted by Art with Nature as the main Element?
I would love to read your comments and know if you are also passionate about creating or enjoying art with nature as its beloved muse.
I obviously declare my unconditional love to it.
If you are interested in knowing how I create art with exclusive pieces of unique wood, iron, and other natural elements, I will be more than happy to talk with you.
Written by: Itzel Navarro