Comte once described his works as “gentle reminders of reality,” as he uses them to draw attention to climate change. His nearly sacred-looking works of art strive to capture the sublimity of what threatens to disappear soon or has already vanished. In the process Comte primarily tries to instigate an
awareness of the impacts of our actions on our environment, while inspiring us to lead simpler, more sustainable lives. Only if we change ourselves, our lifestyles, and our consumer behavior will we gain the
opportunity to slow the progress of environmental destruction.
Glacier Terminus. Glacier Terminus (2019, ink, pigment, acrylic on iron metal panel, 246 x 2500 x 7.5 cm) stretches along a 25-meter-long, 2.5-meter high wall in the artist’s studio. The work is made up of 21 iron plates treated with forty to sixty layers of ink, acrylic paint, salt dust, and oxidized carbon in a monthslong process. The source of inspiration is the vanishing face of the 14th of July glacier in northwestern Spitsbergen, which Comte has visited several times in the past.
Black Light I-II, White Light I-III. The floor installation features impressive photographs of the Swiss glaciers Val Roseg, Aletsch, and Morteratsch (2017, pigment print on cotton paper, wood container, resin, tempered glass, mineral material, 15 x 250 x 180 cm, edition of two). Printed on very thin, delicate cotton, the large photographs are stretched on specially made frames with a mirrored back wall and black glazing. The photographs show the breathtaking beauty of nature’s drama and, at the same time, humankind’s harsh treatment of high mountain landscapes.
Erosion [wood](2019, Japanese ink on wood, variable dimensions). Another floor installation made of eleven wooden beams between one and four meters long and treated with black Japanese ink, Erosion is the counterpart of the ink prints in the gallery show. They refer to the large amount of driftwood in alpine rivers, which results from the processes of erosion in mountainous regions.
Single Stone (Requiem). Comte presented the installation (2017, black granite, 40 x 40 x 40 cm, edition of two) for the first time at the MAXXI Museum in Rome. The gradually vanishing texture of a glacier is projected onto a large piece of granite placed in the center of a large, dark room, until finally all
that is left is the denuded, gray stone. Sound recordings of breaking, cracking glacial ice fill the space with a claustrophobic, disturbing atmosphere.
Salt and Dust and Stoneworks. Besides the large, three-dimensional installations, Comte also presents two smaller series of works. The different-sized paintings from the series Salt and Dust (2018, mineral pigments, rock salt, coal on rice paper [fermented type] mounted on wooden board, 33 x 33 x 4 cm and 280 x 170 x 8 cm) are mounted on wood, covered in Chinese paper, and produced in an elaborate process using salt, carbon, and more than sixty layers of pigment. The light-colored works are also treated with crushed shells and stones. A second group of works, Stoneworks (2020, black ink on paper, variable dimensions) encompasses a number of ink collages, and cut-outs. These are meditative studies of rocks and cliffs that the artist has encountered in nature, and which have awakened his interest and inspired him.