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19 October - 27 November 2013

Jochen Gerner hidden behind his drawing

By coincidence, Jochen Gerner has an exhibition in Paris at the same time as Roy Lichtenstein.  The latter has used frameworks and Comics, mainly to make pictures out of them, to become a “true painter”. He belongs to this kind of logo typical artists you recognize at first sight.

 All this to say that Jochen Gerner has nothing (absolutely nothing) to do with the Pop artist’s art, though some might find likeness, if not links. Indeed, he is the very opposite of this work. He conceptualizes everything he touches. Postcards, Comics, publications, notations etc.  He is a kind of Georges Perec in plastic arts. Each work, very literary, is based on a constraint, an outline to follow. Moreover, he is definitely funnier than some conceptual artists. Jochen Gerner does not try to be the pope of either the stripe or the trace. You must say his work is clever, and not only well made. When using already published images, he constantly uses the main lines of the compositions with genius, so that he reaps where he has not sown.

Jochen Gerner, an accomplished artist in drawing, censors with his brushes whatever comes to hand. He also recovers or hides, according to his humour of the moment.

In his corpus, there are military maps, drawn up every day during the First World War, entirely recovered with black –but for the cartel - enhanced with concentric circles symbolizing the two armies face to face. In their form, they remind you of Frank Stella’s Black Paintings, a concentric version in the style of Clifford Still and His Targets.

 The series of panels of pulp strip comics, featuring aero battles, with stripes along the fall of the planes, is to be admired. The theme of war haunts Jochen Gerner’s work, as Panorama du feu, published in 2010 by L’Association, shows.

 Jochen Gerner has also worked on film posters. Actually, that of François Truffaut’s L’Argent de poche is starred with small coins, which seem to be falling from the sky, like Jupiter on Danae. That of Jean Boyer’s Coiffeur pour dames only leaves out decorative dishevelled, well-combed, curled, etc. hairdos.

 Elsewhere, Franquin’s comic strips are covered up with the cubist war pattern called camouflage - war again…-, but in black and very dark grey, referring to the great Belgian artist’s period Idées Noires. Those who like Franquin will certainly be disappointed because they will not see much of his artistry…The result is beautiful as a whole.

Some of Jochen Gerner’s works have something to do with abstraction. At least, they are not far from it, though their starting-points are figurative. Did he not publish Abstraction (1941-1968) in 2011 (L’Association publishers)?

 Last but not least, this series of geography maps, you know, those stuck on a piece of flexi-cardboard with two eyelets at the top, the schoolmaster hung in the classroom. Jochen Gerner, like a dunce, has covered them up with dark grey acrylic paint (therefore not completely black). He has spared some words, a series of words, or a series of words making up a new word. It is not only funny, beautiful, clever, but it is also poetical. They look like maps of the sky, the constellations of which are clusters of letters. Is it man’s dreams, which are changed into stars, or man’s thoughts (bad or good), which wander through space?

PhD

JOCHEN GERNER
Amérique du Nord, 2013
(detail)
acrylic on map
119 x 98 cm