“Whatever the chosen site for his installations, in our part of the world or in far-flung lands, whatever the scale of the work – infinitely large or infinitely small – which he constructs with infinite patience, Nils-Udo, who started out as a painter as is now one once again, has always “worked with and on nature”.
As a carver of glimpses of eternity, this sensitive, precise and meticulous artist of scenes steeped in absolute grace and power has never tired of this dialogue with nature, which he first struck up back in the 1970s following his graphic art studies in Nuremberg and the long stint he spent in Paris, which he has since built on by touring all seven continents.
Whether experimenting with immense pine trunks or bamboo, interwoven to form one of these giant nests, the shape of which fascinates him so obsessively that he erects them everywhere, or one by one arranging tiny berries, slender flowers, fine branches or delicate roots gathered during his walks, he transforms the simplest of materials into a truly poetic vision, which he hurries to capture through photography before it vanishes.
Nils-Udo’s enduring passion for nests, a fundamental form he is endlessly recreating, a symbol of his obsession over a paradise lost, a wild matrix, a shelter, is well-known. The nest represents the shelter, the start and end point of procreation.
Nils-Udo’s œuvre also displays series of arches, porches and doorways, such as in his “water houses” or those opening out onto the horizon.
These doorways are openings onto a space beyond the initial perception, towards something invisible, a depth glimpsed through beauty, the sublime and “utopia” which Nils-Udo sees “under every stone”, “on each leaf”, “behind each tree”, “in the clouds and the wind””. Chantal Colleu-Dumond, Nils-Udo, éditions Gourcuff Gradenigo
Born 1937. Lives and works in Germany.
Nils-Udo is a historic artist. Spearheading the Art in Nature movement, he created his first major installations in the early 1970s. His unique images of a nature recomposed are an authoritative benchmark in the realm of contemporary photography. In his installations commissioned all over the world, he interacts with the landscape without ever desecrating it. From Connemara to Reunion Island, Vassivière Island to Central Park, this tireless globetrotter designs each piece separately, guided by the “spirit of the places” and the materials collected on-site. The project can then begin under his watchful eye and shape nature as he sees it.
His compositions of unsettling proportions, sometimes gigantic and at other times Lilliputian, relentlessly pursue the perfect balance, that moment of infinite grace captured just before it dissipates. Once the installation is complete, photography fixes it for all eternity and becomes the work in itself.
“Sketching with flowers. Painting with clouds. Writing with water. Tracing the May wind, the path of a falling leaf. Working for a thunderstorm. Awaiting a glacier. Directing water and light.... Counting a forest and a meadow...”. Nils-Udo