November 2005 – Trip to South Georgia, by Loulou Picasso

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3 January 2014

November 2005 – Trip to South Georgia, by Loulou Picasso

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of Tara Expeditions, artists who embarked aboard Tara during scientific expeditions are currently exhibiting their work at the agnès b. headquarters in Paris, from December 16th 2013 to January 10th 2014. Open Monday to Saturday, 10am to 7pm,  agnès b., 17 rue Dieu, 75010 Paris, metro République. Free admission

Loulou Picasso talks about the work he did during his trip aboard the schooner:

I arrived from Paris with photographer Francis Latreille. After spending a day in Santiago, Chile,
we met up with Tara in Port Stanley, in the Falklands. I had never traveled on the high seas before. It was a fascinating and impressive experience. Being on board with the sailors and English scientists, the movements of Tara in a rough sea, huge albatrosses circling the boat, the first iceberg – everything was new.

During the first 5 days sailing from the mainland to the northern coast of South Georgia, I spent my days in the petit carré, which I had transformed into a rudimentary workshop. I photographed  everything that I saw, everything that happened. I transformed all these images into short animations that I sent every evening for the Internet site. At first, keeping this illustrated blog was my main artistic activity.

Once in sight of the coast, I was surprised by the steep slopes of mountains, very high peaks rising abruptly from the sea, gray or green hills streaked with snow, and noisy beaches populated by countless animals.

During the trip, in the library aboard, I leafed through books about Shackleton’s expedition and the many vicissitudes of his trip to South Georgia. I was filled with admiration and anxiety. And during the difficult moments of navigation, when all other activities were impossible, I reread “The Adventures of Arthur Gordon Pym” by Edgar Allan Poe. A large part of the novel takes place in these latitudes. I had in mind this romantic vision of the landscape when I began to represent the coast unfolding before me. A more literary, descriptive approach.

I began to paint on deck when we were at anchor, while the rest of the crew wandered the beaches. I spent hours, numb with cold, drawing what appeared in front of me. A viewpoint far from  contemplation – not turning around, but being within the landscape. Painting a territory –  experienced, penetrated, traversed by the eye. Then presenting the paintings as a long scroll, a ribbon, a long walk.

At other times, I accompanied Francis during his photographic outings. We walked for hours along the beaches and in the hills overlooking the sea. Sometimes we had to run to escape the fury of the seals,  nearly grazing the sea elephants. How amazing to be alone among tens of thousands of king penguins. How strange to find these animals at the end of a street, behind a door in the ghost towns that the whaling stations have become. It’s a unique experience just being there at this time.

The exhibition “Tara’s 10 years: visions of 20 artists” is extremely rewarding. One can compare alternative approaches, different sensibilities, and glimpse other possibilities for travel.

Loulou Picasso