One follows another,
as if it were a fashion show,
as if nature itself wanted to prove
it was superior to any designer.
17,2 x 13,2 cm / 32 x 28,5 cm with frame
A snowy day in the heart of winter, Jochen Gerner drew his first bird. Actually it was not the first one, as he had before made a series of birds he had observed through the window of his studio. But this drawing was different of the others, for it was a color one. Jochen Gerner then took an interest in the feathers of these winged creatures, the best subjects in order to play with his color range. For two years, he has drawn 200 real or invented birds, some of them anthropomorphic, others looking like Egyptian pictograms.
Gana Da Machado (1775-1861), a philosopher and a traveller, examined daily many kinds of birds he loved, and cared for. His whole life was devoted to listening to their songs and admiring their fleeting grace.
From his observations, he worked out his “color theory”, based on the identity of the feathers and their nuances, which according to him could result in precise characteristics. He was convinced that their colors and their shapes were the most important. He began to think that birds had a soul and moral pre-eminence above mankind.
With this series, Jochen Gerner pays a tribute to Rachel Carson, an American biologist, who denounced the effects of pesticides on the environment, and more particularly on birds, in her book “Silent Spring”, published in 1962. Thanks to her writings, the Americans became aware of the damages created by pollution, and the Environmental Protection Agency was born.
On the walls of the gallery, these birds will enter into dialogue with the works of the series “Buffon illustré” (illustrated Buffon), in which Jochen Gerner has recovered with Indian ink the animals represented in the pages of a book published in the twenties, referring to Buffon’s writings (1707-1788). These black silhouettes become abstract and ambiguous, and form a ghostly funeral march.
The visitor will also discover 7 black ink drawings made in Jean-Jacques Rousseau Park in Ermenonville, where Jochen Gerner was in residence in 2018. This picturesque garden, typical of the eighteenth century, the Age of Enlightenment, was meant to give a new idea of nature. Landscape art was born, laid out like a picture to be composed, with artificial contraptions, such as the emblematic Temple of Modern Philosophy, the Poplar Island, or the Naiads Grotto.
A book with the 200 bird drawings by Jochen Gerner, accompanied by a text written by Emanuele Coccia, is published in B42.
exhibition view, galerie anne barrault, June 2021
(photo by Aurélien Mole)