Wednesday, 11 November 2009
JEAN-DANIEL ROHRER /// ANAPHORA
EXHIBITION NOVEMBER 12 THROUGH NOVEMBER 30
OPENING Thursday November 12th from 5-9
WHERE? Galerie Blanche, 218 Saint-Paul Street West, Montreal.
"In literary terms, anaphora is a stylistic device wherein an expression, syntagm or word is deliberately repeated at the beginning of a sentence or verse. In painting, this principle, akin to the leitmotiv, allows a detail, colour, or insistent figure to consistently reappear.
Anaphora, used as a symmetrical effect, lends strength and rhythmic cadence to Rohrer’s pictorial production. In terms of composition, style or format, even where the referential connection to an earlier idea fragment lingers, the motif remains superbly fresh. This extension of a previous state is invariably stamped with formal divergence and each painting assumes in its own way the differential principle of production. Only for the unprepared gaze does duplication become a trap. Each painting asserts itself through a voyage of discovery into the very heart of the creative process. Rohrer delves backwards only to break with the previously-seen by creating what has never been seen.
Rohrer’s visual language is issued from the world of graphic arts, the pictorial tradition and the timeless panorama of life itself, filtered through a unique and distinctive exploration of his medium. Painting, collage, stencil-led letters and numbers, a mix of memory fragments, signs, writing and ideograms stream together. From this complex structure emerges a body of work of striking originality and marked contrasts.
If the intensity of a painting depends not only on the impact of its visual appeal, but also on the cumulative effect of the experiences it provides, anaphora serves to multiply its echoes and extend its reach, while simultaneously creating an effect of longing, suspension or of a time interval. Primarily a bridge from one signifier to the next, a singularly dynamic inter- section of the past and the present, anaphora breathes rhythm and vigour into the work, unbalancing perception and meaning through layered accumulation. From the all the possible multiples available within the arc of time, Rohrer, erasing distances, guided by unfailing instinct, chooses judiciously, shaping his discourse in a sensitive and inventive manner.
In viewing these works, regret and nostalgia could be per- mitted to take hold only as the products of hurried interpret ation or from the crucible of one’s own perceptions, for
example, by basing one’s reflection specifically on references to the Renaissance. This would be forgetting that any fragment from the past that is reconnected to the present is immune from the ravages of time. It would be more advantageous to recognize in these paintings a productive attempt to articulate the inextricable relationship between past, present and future – even time and place. Concurrently, to attempt to draw a line between the figurative and the abstract is as hazardous as trying to cont ain time and its legacy when robbed of its context or its original meaning – here an image borrowed from an ancient volume, a reproduction of a work from another era or a fragment of an old handwritten letter. In weaving together different memories, relying on varied and multiple sources, Rohrer manages to conciliate the modernity of his style with tradition, offering us works of impressive density that arrest and awaken the eye, the intellect and the heart. The strength of his work can be measured against the space given to the vital acts of interpretation and decoding. In fact, Rohrer invariably gives the viewer room to manoeuvre. He avidly solicits us with references that linger between significant traces and metaphors, grandly establishing the analogy between the visible and the revealed in reading a work parsed with the rhythmic regularity of a metronome.
The anaphoric figure, often drawn from the past, also suggests the cyclical and repetitive aspect of history, while questioning our perception of time. Does time exist? ‘A presentrelative to the past: memory; a present relative to the present: perception; a present relative to the future: expectation. If I may be permitted these definitions, I see three facets of time and I acknowledge all three’ wrote Saint Augustine in his Confessions. In Rohrer’s work, these three facets of time are resolutely conjugated in the present tense. Rohrer’s capacity to borrow from the known world delineates the true nature of his work. His exploration of recurring themes often include human or animal figures. What is intelligible is already in memory, which is the fundamental source of thought, but with Rohrer the perceptible environment is but a point of departure into the infinite mechanisms of the history of the self. Between the figurative and the abstract, the traces, material clues, visual testimonies and referential allusions, the architecture of meaning and its relationship to the world rest on a powerful rhythmical structure within which the artist becomes the subtle guide in a quest for identity.
If the desire for knowledge is at the heart of memory, the stencilled letters in the paintings also remind us that phonetic memory is the precursor of the syllabic process, with the study of individual letters, then syllables, leading little by little to the knowledge of words and phrases. Before whole words can be analysed, as before analysing a work of art, learning to decode their various elements becomes a priority. The use of anaphora follows this acquisitive principle through repetition, the layering of ideas, and succeeds, with relentless energy and multiple yet subtle nuances, in laying out a common trajectory. Because theory is but a means of mediating and not an end in itself, independent, tangible worlds of mental and linguistic activity do not exist; what remains is what we make of them.
The hidden links that unify a series of disparate elements, their forms and variations, and which serve as anaphoric repetitions, are to be found in the affinity between memory and imagination and in the underlying architecture of rhythm. These ellipses between repetitions and differences function as discreet meditations and secret doors through which we can access the recurring cadence that brings intensity and richness to the intended design. In addition, the inherent vitality and vigour of the descriptive and narrative contexts contribute significantly to the singular character of Rohrer’s paintings. Rohrer imbues the canvas and the pigment with a powerful physical presence, at once lavish and eclectic. In these paintings, he concentrates and celebrates his passion for reconstitution but also sets into play our own cognitive and conceptual markers, with text and images, like an echo, awakening associations with our own experiences and influences. His technique, a mixture of painting, collage and other media, follows the traces of universal references. It has, with time, become his signature."
Writer and journalist, Parcours Art
+++ pictures courtesy of the artist +++
☁ JEAN-DANIEL ROHRER @ GALERIE BLANCHE
☁ JEAN-DANIEL ROHRER SUR LE ZÈBRE