Joseph Bernard’s “BASEDONATRUESTORY PT.1”
This show is open now, and runs until November 10, 2010 at The Art Gallery at Macomb Center for Performing Arts.
More info on the artist at http://www.josephbernard.com/
CLICK HERE for a Google map, this will show you which building, and where to enter to find the gallery.
( If you did not make it to this opening, or if 20 miles from downtown is a stretch for you Detroiters scared of venturing into the “north-of-8MileRoad” wilderness, the second part in this series is coming to College for Creative Studies Center Galleries – BASEDONATRUESTORY PT.2: opening November 6th, and running until December 18th. )
The artist on the far right – Joseph Bernard.
These pieces are part collage, part “combines” as Robert Rauschenberg would call them, part “ready made” objects as Marcel Duchamp would describe the added physical elements…Layered in transparent and translucent stacks of tactile colors, texture and photographic imagery.
I am going to post a few photos of these pieces, (the actual works are copyrighted by the artist Joseph Bernard 2010, reproduced with permission.) but I am telling you that they are not really reproducible in a 2D format, due to the endlessly complex layers that build the surfaces. These are not only a must-see in person, you really have to take some time with them to really get hit at every level. Words like entrancing, memorizing, meditative – those are what come to mind when I try to explain the work, but even those fall short. For me they actually evoke the sacred geometries of the Hindu and Buddhist Mandalas.
The complexity of the surface and the added “real” items make these art objects, rather than art images – they are practically sculptural. As Bernard would say, “juicy”.
As one of my photofriends ChristineD would say, “it feeds my soul”. After all the pretenses and shows and wine and cheese – art is really all about wonderful objects you want to live with. In your home, in your community – things that make the soul soar.
But then integrated into of all of the delicious visuals, is a treatment of words, letters, phrases – a play of language on top of manipulating words and letters as images and designs.
Yeah – you are thinking perhaps the Jasper Johns-like stencil and word usage in Bernard’s art may be merely derivative. Well, not only is it NOT derivative of Jasper Johns, it is in fact a line of thought that coincided with the work of Jasper Johns. What the hell am I talking about ? ( Man, Joe is going to get tired of me telling this story soon, but it is one of my favorites. ) When he was a young man still in school, he got disturbed at the idea that his work may be mistaken as mimicry, so he simply wrote an explanation of his process and sent it off to Jasper Johns for his stamp of approval…HAHAHAHAHA !
That is funny and all – what balls ! Who the hell did the kid think he was writing to one of the Art Gods on Mt Olympus ? Well, he received word back from Jasper Johns people, with his endorsement. ( ! )
I will bracket this post now with the disclosure that Joe Bernard was not only one of my studio teachers and mentors at CCS-CAD, he – along with Dr. Mary McNichols – was also the source of the majority of my art history education.
Read this story in his own words, in an interview with Dr. McNichols:
Nice strappy top = totally Edie Sedgwick. Tré cool.
As to Josephs Bernard’s affect on my own work, I can not even begin to explain. I can tell you that he is the direct impetus that started my serious photographic work in 1993. While my family members are my role models and source for my occupation, it was Joe who actually kicked me in the ass and jump started me as a photographic artist. Both through example, as well as “Hey Randy, when are you going to start using that damn Nikon right there ?”…..
Nobody would be here right now reading this otherwise, so cheers to Joe for that.