What is Landscape?

Giogio Agamben (text extract from ‘What is Landscape?’ 2019, translated from the Italian)

Luke Elwes’ paintings do not paint the river, but are made of the river. Their form is that of the contingent, of the point of indiscernibility between what simply is and the one (here, the painter) for whom it is. What interests Elwes is the recording of the moment in which something emerges and immediately sinks into the past, […] “the shifting patterns on the water, the fall of light on a given day, and the incidental life that passes across one’s visual field. Beneath all this, there is also the delicate registering of material erasures, the disappearances and the brief resurgences, the momentary recollection of this place’s silent (sinking) past” (Elwes 2018). The Ganges River painting series, in particular, captures a landscape that “not only continues to escape, but transgresses and confuses the sacred and the profane, the everyday and the unheard of, the mythical and the real” (Agamben 2019).