Bernard Perroud Sculptor
|Reflections on Art in Nature, page 2|
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". Height: 127 cm. Foam, steel rods, wood, cardboard, paper, gold leaf, dirt from Sedona. Photo by Bernard Perroud.
"Bud". Maximum size: 200 cm. Cardboard, paper, sand, acrylic paint. Photo by 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:
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
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?
Vehicle # 2"
Maximum size: 33 cm. Cardboard, paper, paint.
Photo by Bernard Perroud.
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.
More sculptures 2
More sculptures 3
More sculptures 4
More sculptures 5
in Nature Event 2001 The Arts Center at Kingdom Falls, OAH
Escondido Phoenix 1999 Malibu Sculpture Event
Reflections on Art in Nature - published in Nouvel Objet - page 3
FundsXpress Sculpture - Corporate Client