RIGA - When Jean-Luc-Godard spoke of the image as "sheer joy," it's doubtful that he was referring to pretty panoramic shots of landscapes. But there is something truly exhilarating about the images that make up the new "Terra Borealis" exhibition (Nordic land in Latin) by Andy Horner, the Finnish-British photographer.
Horner spent some six years working on a series of photographs of Scandinavian landscapes for a book entitled "Terra Borealis," some of the best of which are now being shown at the exhibition.
The pictures are quite simply breathtaking. They take in the entire territory of Scandinavia in all its extremities, from "the endless Taiga of northeastern Finland to Denmark's lush beech forests. From the icy roof of Norway to the volcanic moonscapes of Iceland. From the low reefs of the Baltic to the seabird cliffs of the Atlantic. From the desolate plains of Lapland to Greenland's icebergs."
Horner, who now lives in the Aland Islands, is clearly in love with his subject, and to his credit he eschews picture postcard kitsch. His images are deliberately painterly: painstakingly framed and with great attention to composition. This is his tender tribute to the national romantic painters of the 19th century.
Some of the pictures are hauntingly beautiful. Horner captures the essential drama of the immense Scandinavian landscape in his attention to detail, and his treatment of the landscape as an epic narrative. You can only gaze at the images in a sort of dumbfounded wonder and timidly think to yourself: "Hmm, I wonder how much a ticket costs there."
This is nature at its most enigmatic. It's little wonder that it is so deep-rooted in Scandinavian culture. It would simply be impossible not to be affected by landscapes as amazing as these.
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