"Dynamic1". Bernard Perroud

Bernard Perroud   Sculptor

Reflections on Art in Nature, page 2

Los Angeles, USA.
    At that time I was living in Germany. I later moved to Mexico City, where I stayed two years. Then I moved to Los Angeles where I've been for the last five years. I've lived in many different countries but here, of all places, I became aware of the beauty and amazing variety of vegetation. Here plants have taken an importance in my life that they never had before. Los Angeles, thanks to its mild climate and to the multiple origins of its inhabitants, has lots of different kind of plants, trees, flowers coming from different corners of the world.
    The vegetal kingdom has become for me an important source of inspiration. It has somehow unified the body of my work. I deal a lot with and around the theme of the origins of life and sexuality in a very broad sense, creating sculptures that express their basic laws and/or our perception of them. Plants offer to us a world of shapes, beauty and significance which I see as very similar to how human sexuality reveals itself. In both realms we see all the games of life-manifestation: seduction, attraction, repulsion, adaptation and interaction with the environment, the role of water, creation, destruction, and so on. These themes epitomize for me some basic questions of metaphysics.

     Women's vaginas are flowers. I know, it's not a very new image but isn't it a powerful one? The shadow between their legs is the stem, the thighs and hips are protecting leaves, and the vagina, embedded in the pubic hair, the fragile flower. What fascinates me in plants? Is it the evanescence of their beauty? Is it the way each leaf, each flower opens up? Is it the potential of life that every bud contains? To me they are a concrete expression of the mystery of life
"Flower#3". Bernard Perroud
"Bud". Bernard Perroud
"Flower#3". Height: 127 cm. Foam, steel rods, wood, cardboard, paper, gold leaf, dirt from Sedona. Photo by Bernard Perroud.
far right:
"Bud". Maximum size: 200 cm. Cardboard, paper, sand, acrylic paint. Photo by Bernard Perroud.

"This is a Flower". Bernard Perroud
"This is a Flower".
Maximum size: 69 cm. Cardboard, paper, gold leaf, acrylic paint. Photo by Bernard Perroud.

     Los Angeles is also situated within a day's reach of a great variety of natural environments, going from extremely humid to extremely arid. There are different kinds of deserts as well as high mountains, a multifaceted Pacific coast, forests, etc... What a canvas, what materials for an artist! Traveling around I collect dirt and sand, they are of a lot of colors. For example, Sedona, in Arizona has a rich red dirt that I have used for many of my pieces.

    I will quote here my artist's statement:
    "To me nature's landscapes have the oneiric magic of the mythical beginnings of humanity.  When I walk through them I strip off my culture, my education and civilized habits.  Then, bare, innocent in a way, I face nature in its metaphysical significance.  By which I mean that, inherent in its apparent multiplicity, is the revelation of the essence and unity of being.  Then, also, I face my soul, which, without words, unites with the environment.  Oh, how my spirit craves the repeating of this experience!
    Newborn babies have something fascinating in their eyes.  They seem to see the world purely, in a totally non-discriminating way. Their gaze reflects two different levels of perception: the inner and the outer realms.  The inner one carries the prenatal life with it but undifferentiated from its new environment.  The outer one is the slow awakening to distinctions.  Some children seem to keep this dual gaze for many years.  Looking into their eyes is like contemplating the endless space which carries matter, beyond the ego, a blinding serenity.
    In the apotheosis of the senses, which is love-making, we tend towards the dissolution of our individuality, perpetuating the most ancient kind of communion with nature.  We think that we know what weํre doing then, but the perpetuation of the human species follows rules which are beyond our understanding.

    Walking in nature is like wandering over a 
loverํs body.  All the senses (including the subtlest ones) fully awakened, we look for these shelters of blissful and regenerative rest.  For these places to generate the creative impetus, we need to leave the world of thoughts.  The womb of a woman is the ideal (security) shelter.  Walking in nature, the shadowy places attract us.  A hollow in the ground, the shade of a tree with its comfortable roots, a cave, a stone jutting out, a hollow tree.  All these places that animals seek out to protect themselves from the environment, these places attract us human beings much the same.
"Portable sculpture for a desert wanderer". Sculpture and photo by Bernard Perroud.

"Portable sculpture for a desert wanderer".
Height: 210 cm. Sculpture made of raw iron rods in two parts. Light, easily assembled and planted wherever one wants
Photo by Bernard Perroud.

    I dig because my instinct tells me to do so.  I dig for food, I dig for shelter. I dig into my lover's dark valley, looking for the source of moisture. I nose about under bushes, search, snuggle, try it. Always watchful, but also ready to let myself go.
    I erect. I set a stone vertically. I plant a stock, a trunk, pointing straight at the sky.  Erecting as a volitional action, I prove myself opposed to animal:  a man."


Land-Art versus Art in Nature.
    In the early sixties, Land-Art started as a reaction against the gallery system, and from the realization that nature (as opposed to its representation) is a much freer canvas. Artists, such as Robert Smithson and Michael Heizer, made large pieces in remote locations. Ironically their activity was mainly made public and documented through descriptions of the project, sketches, photos etc. in galleries or art publications. Land-Art was born in the United States especially because there is still so much unoccupied land.
    The Art in Nature events such as the ones I've participated in have a different scope. Their scale is more modest, more intimate. They spring forth from an increasing ecological consciousness, from our deep need for nature to counterbalance our lives that we spend so much of in such an artificial, man-made urban environment. They use nature as a gallery to show (often temporarily, unlike sculpture gardens) ephemeral objects of art created specifically for their location, they pretend to interact with their environment. The natural environment sets them radically apart from a gallery or a museum because the white walls of the gallery are here replaced by a bucolic background. Their ambiance is not as constrained as a gallery's and thus much less repellent and intimidating for many, the visitor feels freer to behave as he pleases. Finally the pieces are often created as an artistic reaction to a particular location; they enhance the pleasure of the stroller revealing to him what the spot called forth in someone else. Themes for a rich dialogue are set. "Art itself might be partially defined as an expression of that moment of tension when human intervention in, or collaboration with, nature is recognized." (in Overlay, by Lucy R. Lippard)

How does Art in Nature, from an artist's perspective, differ from Art in a Gallery?
    Is there any greater spectacle than a moving landscape during a nice drive? Doesn't nature offer a far greater diversity than all the productions of mankind? Doesn't nature stimulate the deepest thoughts? I often think of my head as a vehicle; much more sophisticated than, let's say, a car. The analogy struck me years ago. I sit in it and thus, travel through my life, at different speeds, forward, backward, jumping ahead in time... My head is my very first working tool.

"Dream Vehicle # 2"
Maximum size: 33 cm. Cardboard, paper, paint.
Photo by Bernard Perroud.
"Turning Dream Vehicle"
Maximum size: 69 cm. Cardboard, paper, dirt.
Photo by Bernard Perroud.
    Artists often gather materials for their inspiration, for their work,  while they are outside their studios. With wide-open senses, like hunters, during travels, meeting people, observing all kinds of subjects, etc... they stock impressions, images. An artist is never totally satiated. His studio is a womb of creation, the primeval laboratory or kitchen, in which he unburdens himself of his harvest. The artist works deep within himself, mixing his raw materials. These events of Art in Nature, disrupt the artist's routine because, for a certain period of time, the walls of his studio disappear. His creation unfolds within a greater context, from which he can draw different sources of inspiration than the ones he is used to in his studio. He, of course, carries his past experiences within himself, but in nature his ego (depending on how strong it is) will substantially shrink. There the phenomena of artistic creation reveals itself in unexpected ways. It can be a revelation for him or her. There he is naked, facing the universe. These conditions definitely set this way of working apart from working in a studio.
    Buddhism tells us that we should consider all women with as much respect as we do our mother. Nature is female, she is our primeval mother (Urmutter). When we create an object in nature it's like when we used to play, as small children, within the benevolent reach of our mother. It feels like the most natural thing to do! It is a protected, and, surprisingly in such an open space, a very intimate activity.

    Montagagne had opened new ways of creating art for me. I was extremely grateful to have had the chance to participate. Since then I have been wanting to repeat this experience, share it again with other artists and offer the results to the discretion of other publics. And so I decided to organize an event similar to Artac '91 myself.

Next page

ŒMore sculptures 2
ŒMore sculptures 3
ŒMore sculptures 4
ŒMore sculptures 5
ŒArtist's statement
ŒArt in Nature Event 2001 The Arts Center at Kingdom Falls, OAH
ŒEscondido Phoenix 1999 Malibu Sculpture Event
ŒReflections on Art in Nature - published in Nouvel Objet - page 3
ŒFundsXpress Sculpture - Corporate Client
For custom-designed sculptures, art in nature projects, price lists of completed sculptures,
or to send you comments (welcomed!), e-mail Bernard Perroud at perroudburns@earthlink.net

This page last updated on May 15, 2002.
 © 2002 Laura Burns