British artist Hamish Fulton walked in various countries since the early 1970s. He has gone on hundreds of walks covering thousands of kilometres, and these alone constitute his whole body of work. Those solitary experiences result in a range of different mediums including painted wall texts, framed photo-text works, drawings, artists books, public readings... His work can be found in many public and private collections, and has been presented on the international scene for more than fifty years.
Hamish Fulton does not seek to change nature, but rather to show that it is nature that transforms us: for him, walking is an experiential, activist, and political act. Within a humanistic approach, his engaged practice, which has broadened to include group walks, encourages us to think about our interdependent links with nature and our productivist model of society.
He does not see himself as a Land Art artist, nor as a performer or poet. “I’m often considered a sculptor or Land Art artist. This is an error perpetrated by art historians and critics. My philosohy and practice occupy the entirely opposite position to that of any form of land art or outdoor sculpture. I am an artist who specialises in walking. Land art contradicts walking art.”
For his project at the Frac, which is the first major exhibition in France dedicated to this artist for more than ten years, Hamish Fulton made a 21-day walk with 21 nights camping I June 2022in the Mercantour National Park, located east of Digne-les-Bains in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region, departing from and returning to Barcelonnette.
The works resulting from that walk are exhibited alongside a variety of artworks based on walks made between 1969 and 2023, including large wall paintings, small framed paintings, drawings, limited edition prints, and what the artist calls “walk texts on wood”.
All of this will be deployed in the monumental space of the explorations room, playing with relations of scale, offering viewers a new physical and mental experience as they move through the exhibition—penetrating the landscape, following the skyline, or facing miniature landscapes stylised by wooden elements covered in handwritten texts.
The exhibition continues 140 km away in Digne-les-Bains, where Cairn Centre d’art will present a set of works, several of which evokes the political situation in Tibet, not far from the museum-residence of writer and explorer Alexandra David-Néel, who was the first European woman to enter Lhasa, in Tibet.
At Cairn Centre d’art, Digne-les-Bains. Preview of the exhibition Hamish Fulton at Cairn Centre d’art Saturday 25 March at 12pm. Exhibition from 1 April to 2 July 2023