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04/04/11

  06:53:00 pm, by   , 190 words  
Categories: Art, Collage

THE MISSION

This collage goes quite easily. I choose a picture with "savages" and start hiding the letters on the bottom.

I then have the idea of introducing a white man in a sarcastic way with a mask (cf. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon).

I introduce a mix of white colon and savage.

But this makes me destroy the white man on the left, he's too present. I try an introduction of a tiny figure (Courbet) in the foreground.

The left side being too weak, I introduce a new element: better!

The collage is OK now, but a little bit boring in my eyes. I have to do something radical.

The final picture displays the idea I had when I introduced the white man: the church weighs when savages are missionized mixed with a bit of tourism, nepotism etc. That reminds me the book I made the cover picture for and the French translation of which we revised: The white man's burden, by W.Easterly.The disconnected picture of the cathedral wants to be the alien element in the collage, at the risk of disorganizing the whole. But I feel that it is worth the risk.

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28/03/11

  07:13:00 pm, by   , 220 words  
Categories: Art, Collage

The birth of a slap

This collage escaped from destruction. The first idea is the cry with the projection of the hand:

The bottom of the picture doesn't satisfy me. I cut everything out, take the projecting hand away and look for a different context. I soon find it and stick the remaining mouth with some remainings of the baby face on the ad.

The slap appeares! The rest is only a matter of minor adjustments. I mean that the basic expression has been fixed by now. The change concerns the hair, I make it brighter in contrast to the men's.

The final picture is quite the same, just à little trimming of the upper boarder, some minor ajustments with PS and here it is:

As usual, the picture has changed a lot, it is like feeling some's way along in the darkness and finally getting to the light. Seen as it is displayed here, you can find that this is of little interest to because there is no visible connection between the beginnings and the outcome. Yes and no. The cry was an appeal to the onlooker, the picture addresses him with his pain, whereas now its passive and suffering, only the gesture has become less evident: a slap or a caress? Agression or consolation.
But that's up to you to decide, dear visitor.

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20/03/11

  05:38:00 pm, by   , 158 words  
Categories: Art, Collage

AM I FREE?

These days I am making "narrative" collages. I understand by this word a collage that it is more on the illustrative side than on the formal, edgy one.
The question is: Am I a traitor to myself? Am I going back to simple illustration or surrealism?
Well, I hope not. It means to me that I am not the prisoner of any manner. Art, as I see it, is playing with forms and contents. The difficulty lies in the danger of repetition of artistic formulae or patterns. So I must experiment something different as often as I can and collage is very helpful to achieve that. So I am surprised to see what’s coming out and quite delighted. And looking closer at my latest collages, I see the shift in realism that I adore: exaggeration or highlighting, changes in scale etc.
So these collages are just coming to/from me and go their own ways. Am I free?
Well...

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11/03/11

  10:39:00 pm, by   , 241 words  
Categories: Art, Collage

THE APPARITION

I was working on this collage today and from the start found it interesting to comment on it, so I took several pictures.

It started with a fragment lying ramdomly on the cover of a magazine yesterday night. I liked the geometrical shape of it.

This morning, I glued it on the cover and looked for some other pieces to fit. I took the skull that had been on my desk for several days. There I had a figure.

This made an urge for some legs. Easily found.

But now the figure and the background didn't match. I cut out the figure, glued it on a new background, took off the skull and tried a Caravagesque composition.

I intensified the gesture of holding the dead man, in order to express concern.

I might have stopped here. But the picture looked too "baroque" or "ancient" in my eyes, It missed some wit. This lead to the final picture.

Finally, death reappeared in the picture, holding its prey and greeting the audience. I acknowledge again the way collage works and how my hidden artists has its own ways, driving me by the means of insatisfaction. I started with an abstract pattern, just so and ended up with THE question - I had no intention to deal with this subject, nor am I oppressed, depressed, sick or so. But all these dead people in North Africa, in Japan get inside me by some invisible means.

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08/03/11

  10:38:00 am, by   , 234 words  
Categories: Art, Collage

From one bank to another

Something very rewarding: the reception of my works by people I don’t know. My exhibition in Geneva was the occasion to meet friends and relatives. It lasted one week only because I had to check in at the hospital. I got many compliments, but nobody bought a print despite the relatively low prices. This stopped the idea of organizing the show myself and the illusion of selling my works directly.
These 2 months, the same works are displayed in a bank in Lyon , and the people there were quite interested by them, asking me questions or making remarks on them while I was putting them on the walls. The boss even allowed me to hang up the collage named shark behind his desk, smiling at the idea that the customer would look at it whilst talking to him. I don’t know if there will be any purchase from the clients or the staff, but I enjoyed the friendly atmosphere, feeling welcomed.

This is quite funny, as two of my early works after collages (in the 60ies) were bank hold-ups, taken by video surveillance mixed with other elements.
So I may have made some progress in my way of looking at banks and in making collages for sure too.

Added on april 4: Now this has been a moment of mental confusion. Sorry folks. Reality is tough and some ideas like the above statement are just dreams.

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28/02/11

  04:44:00 pm, by   , 313 words  
Categories: Art, Collage

ETAT DES LIEUX

Hi Berni, how’s it going?
Well I am fine, despite the fact that I lost my (hair(s).That’s weird.
How do you get along with it?
Fine, thanks. My skin feels like a newborn’s. There are some positive aspects. I have taken up golf again and I am better than before the operation.
And how is your work?
Well, I see that collage takes me here and there, that I follow the flow of pictures I fall upon instead of going a straight line, doing my work with a constant purpose. It’s like drifting in sea of possible pictures, grabbing one or the other, without any precise purpose.
That sounds depressing.
No it isn’t. I’ve always worked like that. I wanted to let inspiration take hold of me – myself being “void” or a channel. But I really don’t know if I achieve that.
That sounds like a mystic.
Not at all, I am very rational and matter of fact, but I want the pictures to happen, to surprise me. My collages are a kind of notebook. Day after day I write down something – a single word or a whole story. Someday, it’s just a fantasy, some other it’s about the world, depending on what I see in magazines and what is somewhere on my mind. But I don’t plan anything save the moment I’ll be sitting at my desk. I have no “message”.
Your “sources” are magazines and art reproductions – no comics for ex.
That’s right. I don’t make pop art or other “one-dimensional” art, if I may refer to Marcuse. I don’t want to please, I want to express. Pop art doesn’t express, it wants to seduce by color and absence of depth. I am traditional. I want to make powerful and meaningful pictures. I don’t succeed with every collage, but I try to approach something that I would call beauty and depth.

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21/02/11

  03:42:00 pm, by   , 194 words  
Categories: Art, Collage

THE MUMMY GENESIS

This collage started with the picture of a Peruvian mummy. For a while it was laying on my desk, on the Chagall, with a couple of hands groping for the face. Today I started it all over again. I first put the picture of the head on the Chagall - it look very dream-like, but a little too simple.

I then put a stripe of a photo of L.Trabelsi on it – there it was, but I didn’t like so much the right part (Chagall), even if the picture looked quite OK.

I decided to put another Trabelsi – stripe on it – the result was not so good as before.

I had to do something radical. I stuck a big fragment on it, a little staggered in respect to the anatomy of the head, giving the impression of a shift or absorption – whatever you can imagine. Politically, I’d say that those dictators were sorts of living dead – emigrations seems to accelerate the dying progress.

P.S. In my actual collage work, I alternate “serious” collages with lighter ones – 1) because I can’t live in those regions every day, 2) I don’t want to be definable by one kind of collage

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14/02/11

  11:35:00 am, by   , 239 words  
Categories: Art, Collage

EXILE

When I started making collages, I felt that painting didn’t give me a connection to the events in the world. Painting, in my eyes, deals essentially with painting. I must admit that my collages of the past years were mostly concerned with pictures, often taken from fashion magazines and art reproductions. They mainly dealt with collage itself. I mean by that researching the expressive possibilities. Without pretending that I take a new direction, my inspiration now mainly comes from news pictures, linking myself to my beginnings in collage.
The original, showing the “tigress” of Tunisia, arriving at a fashionable place in France, became something like tragedy in my eyes. It’s the sudden destruction of what was before, of the own image, an outburst of violence against oneself, after terrorizing the whole country for decades. And I muse about the moment when the decision to abandon, to flee, to leave everything behind in a couple of minutes. It’s a catastrophe anyway, even if I don’t feel committed to dictators or other predators.
On a personal level, leaving a (false) image of oneself, not knowing what is going to come or how to replace it, are questions I ask myself. Another question is the exile. Personally, I am glad that I left my home country, gave away my passport, because in my eyes Germany, as a territory, bears the curse of Cain. I changed language, habits, but I remain an exile.

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06/02/11

  09:31:00 am, by   , 396 words  
Categories: Art, Collage

THREE VARIATIONS

This time I have three versions of a same collage base. Normally I make many modifications until the final picture looks satisfactory to my eyes. After that, I generally prefer to work on a different subject. I event try to avoid repetition in my collages which is not easy as their number is steadily growing.
It started with the reverted eyes on a face. The rest went quite as usual: I found a “body” and a “theme”: the open book and thought about the ecstasy of studying Holy Scriptures, or a kind of madness if you prefer. In the solitude of the study, we see these eyes wandering between the onlooker and the text. That’s scaring! But still, I wasn’t quite sure about the result and felt that I could do some more work. But my wife told me to leave the collage like that. So I decided to follow her advice. I scanned the collage and tried some other possibilities that are displayed here.

I found an ad about men’s wear and found that it was a good match despite the fact that the hiding theme is recurrent in my work – maybe because of my early childhood in Nazi-Germany. I hesitated: I didn’t want to repeat myself. After a brief thought of a yellow star in the right bottom, I changed my mind for a Shakespearian interpretation: man in a jacket that’s too large for him, trying to hide in it or even to disappear. I added a kind of weird crown to make it more evident and to make the picture more colored. In these days where a dictator is not sure of remaining in place, I felt this collage as being quite adequate.

The third one is the fruit of hazard. I fell upon a picture showing a Muslim woman doing some journalistic work at the risk of her life. I tore it up and it matched beautifully in spite of the many snags in the picture. These breaks may be seen as signs of frailty. So this third version is about writing, telling and the danger these people are menaced with when the established power lets the mob loose, like in Egypt.

I also remembered a Carolingian miniature showing an inspired Evangelist trembling or shaken by what he is writing down, a picture I have been loving since ever (Gospel of Ebbo).

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30/01/11

  05:52:00 pm, by   , 291 words  
Categories: Art, Collage

STUCK?

This collage is the result of a complete change when it was almost completed. I was interested in the griping gesture which originally concerned some food. My first attempt was with the Tokyo setting and the overacting of young girls I often witness in the streets of Geneva. To my discharge, I must admit that I am entering the 70ies tomorrow, so that may explain my conservative views on that kind of behavior.

When I looked on the picture, I found rather flat from a spatial point of view and formally quite uninteresting. I decided to destroy it while keeping the grasping girl. Trying different settings, and glued the headless man against the girl. The idea of a man grasping for the girl changed her gesture into one of despair – I got my plot! Rummaging through my magazine pile, I finally fell upon the candid photo of some Belgian brothel. All I had to do was to fix the girl properly on the naked body which I did by cutting away her dress.

I rarely discard any of my collages; I mostly try to push them further with important modifications. But this time, the change was radical. What seems interesting to me is that the “theme” or “subject” of the picture doesn’t appear at once. In the beginning, it’s playing around with possibilities. And it’s through this process the idea crystallizes – and once it’s there, the rest seems easy. But in the years after art school, this crystallization didn’t occur and I experienced depressive feelings of absolute failure. To overcome this, one needs success, for sure, and one can build up this feeling by writing on one’s work and by deciding to change direction when the wheels risk to get stuck.

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Blog on art, centered on collage. It is meant as a sort of logbook of my creative work.

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