First Landing
graphite pencil
70 x 140 cm, 40 x 140 cm, 56 x 140 cm
2020 – 2021

During the artist’s visit to the First Landing State Park at Cape Henry, Virginia Beach, the sea was very rough, as if telling of the day when, in 1607, English settlers first set foot on American soil. First Landing is part of a series of Sea Drawings that highlights the importance of the sea in the history of human migration, more specifically to the United States. The image of a stormy ocean evokes the drowning of thousands of refugees and slaves abducted by the colonists, while referring to concepts of departure into the unknown, danger and loss. Alternating between wide shots and close-ups, between zooming in and zooming out, the artist stages a game between abstraction and figuration that questions our perception as well as the relationships between humans and the visible world. 

The first drawing represents a wide shot of the Atlantic seen from the historic landing site. In the second drawing, an extreme close-up shot transforms the sea into an abstract image. The play between abstraction and figuration begins: the details of the wave are drawn in a realistic style, but the overall composition is reminiscent of an abstract painting. The gaze is lost, literally floating in the seawater, much like the drowning refugees and slaves. The third drawing is again a wide shot. These switches between zooming in and zooming out are reminiscent of the varying levels of attention society pays to the issue of migration and encourage us to change our perspective.