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Veiled Forest

Holly King
Veiled Forest, 1997
chromogenic print
159 x 189.1 cm framed
Purchased 1998

Since 1985, Holly King has produced several cycles of work that explore various approaches to landscape. They are astonishing in their variety, and beguiling in their beauty and strength. Yet King restricts herself to one territory: that of the imagination, where what truly counts is the gaze brought to bear upon things and the feelings to which they give rise.

King’s method has remained the same from the outset: she builds, then photographs, deceptively simple models whose components feature different types of landscape. When enlarged, these light-bathed miniatures become grandiose scenes. Her photography borrows elements from painting, sculpture, and drawing – as well as objects both fabricated and natural – and integrates them into pictures with multiple resonances. By enlarging the images (following the example of landscape painting), King takes advantage of photography’s capacity to transform humble objects, in the process revealing wholly surprising aspects of these materials and composing surprisingly realistic scenes where nature and artifice coexist.

Whether it is the dreamlike spaces inspired by mythology (1985–89), The Gardens cycle (1990–92) with its human scale and imagery, the moods projected in Imprisoned in the Viewless Winds (1995), or the vaguely defined territories of The Forest of Enchantment (1997), each of King’s suites works through variations on a theme. CMCP has built up a significant body of work by drawing on each of these projects. As a result, each phase of the artist’s output is represented by several defining works that bring out the richness of each cycle and of the narrative strategies employed.

The Veiled Forest is one of King’s most recent works. In these photographs, the gaze focuses on the centre of things and circumscribes an eminently photographic space where the depth of field cuts up the image into undefined or sharply delineated zones. This produces an ambiguous space that simultaneously reveals and conceals itself, and where the gaze is constantly coming up against veils that stand between it and the colours of a mysterious forest that is at once unsettling and alluring.