Critic text by Andrea García Casal

Ecological Painting: Sara F. Jorslov By Andrea García Casal, art historian and art critic

Article published on PAC, Plataforma de Arte Contemporáneo, the 1st March 2024

“I looked when He opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became like blood; […] And the sky receded as a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island was moved out of its place. […] [T]he great day of His wrath has come; and who is able to stand?”

Excerpt from Book of Revelation, 6. Saint John of Patmos. Reina-Valera Revised Bible, 1960.

Extrapolating the meaning of Book of Revelation —6— to apply it to reality may seem far-fetched at first. However, it is not necessary to authenticate even an iota of this prophetic narrative. It is not even necessary to practice the Christian faith to find high doses of realism in some passages of the book. It is enough to analyse the present time, without going into detail. One can find evident analogies between the apocalyptic sixth seal and the climate change that increasingly afflicts our planet.

While Saint John of Patmos was showing controversial issues of his historical context —at least, according to various scholars— through the metaphor of Book of Revelation, in the work there are brief descriptions of cataclysmic events that are very close to today’s natural disasters.

The artist Sara Fernández Jorslov (Palma de Mallorca, 1978), whose work is an ode to ecology, connects in a certain way with the ecphrasis of the destruction of the planet that Saint John of Patmos narrated in Book of Revelation. However, in her art she reflects the reality of climate change to raise public awareness of a logical catastrophic future —if no action is taken—, rather than falling into futuristic narratives.

The devastation of the Earth in general and of humanity is attributed to an all-powerful deity in the significant book, capable of condemning humanity to redeem its sins and to be reborn, pure. We depend on the terrestrial habitat to exist; this was clear in antiquity, as it is today, but at that time the imminent disappearance of human life, caused by the acts of the Homo sapiens species itself, was not thought of. Obviously, in Jorslov’s art, in which painting predominates, there are no black suns, blood-coloured moons, or skies that volatilize. There is no intention to cause a greater commotion with respect to palpable reality, and even less to build links with any kind of faith.

For this reason, our protagonist focuses on representing nature from an always abstract perspective, based on the importance of form, texture, and colour to allude, above all, to the Earth as a life-giving element, but also at risk. In this way, she shows views of landscapes from the sky, recreating zenithal planes focused on exhibiting the earth and water, in conjunction or distinctly. Details of continents and oceans are shown both in fullness and in senescence, accelerated by climate change. Jorslov shows us, on the one hand, the beauty of the landscape, abstracting it until it reaches its formal qualities, but keeping in mind her native location, strengthening ties with visible reality: Mallorca. She shows the landscape in a primordial state; virginal. There are hardly any suggestions of life forms, except for the occasional presence of sketched forests. The colours are neutral and warm to symbolize the earth, with greys, browns, and ochres abounding, while the colour palette is cold, especially using the colour blue, when referring to the aquatic element. The careful work with shapes and especially with textures gives rise to illusionist recreations of the rough touch of rocks, the cracks in the ground, the swirls and currents in the sea, and a long etcetera.

However, as “every mountain and island were moved out of its place,” the harshest side of Jorslov’s production is demonstrated by her depictions of catastrophic events. Natural disasters are indisputable themes of part of the works of the Mallorcan artist, for example, fires, deforestation, desertification, floods, and the rise in sea level due to melting. Extreme weather phenomena are also visible. Heatwaves are particularly important for Jorslov, as they are part of her everyday life in Mediterranean summers, making her a witness to an uncertain period of life as we know it. Her abstract compositions referring to lands burned by intense fires or icebergs breaking off from glaciers manifest Jorslov’s concern about this issue.

A complementary reading offers a message which states: even though animals, including humans, become extinct, the Earth will be there and will continue to advance; it will stand regardless of the impoverished climate, of all those devastating actions caused by Homo sapiens.Jorslov’s premise is that “there is no planet b”. There is no other place to be now and for this reason, the environment must be cared for. Understanding this, it is easy to understand that Jorslov’s aerial landscapes also refer to the notion of a map with which to guide us in the fight against climate change, because “[…] the great day of his wrath has come; and who will be able to stand?”. The wrath of anthropogenic pollution and its destructive effects.

From an alternative but complementary perspective, the painter maintains a strong commitment linked to ecology that is essential to understand her art. In fact, in her day-to-day life, the notions of recycling, sustainability, and circularity are fundamental. She also supports various animal and ecological organizations, concerned about the mistreatment of animals evident industrial livestock production and fishing. Similarly, she knows the severe consequences of these activities, as they affect the quality of the environment and degrade it; hence they are ideas so relevant to Jorslov’s life, transferring to her artistic production.

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