"Dynamic1". Bernard Perroud

Bernard Perroud   Sculptor

Reflections on Art in Nature, page 3

Malibu, California.
    In 1998, after much searching, I found a private canyon in Malibu, a seaside town on the edge of LA. Right off the coast, the mountains are accessible through fast climbing canyons The owner was willing to lend his land for my purpose. With the help of a curator we offered ten artists the possibility to select a site and work 10 days creating art installations in nature. We decided to do it in the middle of June.
    Setting up the "Escondido Phoenix 1999 (an exploration of art and nature in Escondido Canyon)", I didn't have much time at the beginning to dedicate to my own piece. But walking the canyon up and down many times, I slowly interiorized the unique features of this place. Very few canyons around here offer such a cornucopia! This place is a hidden green jewel, with a little creek that runs all year long (an exception around here, especially at this time of year!). The canyon is deep, rich with life. Its slopes are like the lush thighs of a fruitful woman. It is the realm of the Venus Genitrix. "The gate of the middle of the castle of my beloved has its doors wide opened", says a love poem from 
"Soft Spiral". Bernard Perroud
 ancient Egypt.
    When I finally got ready to tackle my own installation, a little clearing, covered with grass, 
"Soft Spiral". 
Height: 231 cm. Wood, cardboard, paper, sand.
Photo by Bernard Perroud.
at the foot of a willow tree, opened its arms to me. I had found my spot,on the bank of the creek, and I knew what I was going to do.
    I had originally thought to make a long sinuous snake-like form. Using twigs, branches and grass I wanted it to wind through the landscape, an extension of Shiva's dance of creation. This serpentine movement symbolizes for me creation in its becoming, just like the spiral.

"Bountiful".  Bernard Perroud.    But, just as I had found in Montagagne, once on the spot, all my previously thought-of ideas lose their appropriateness and a new one, imperiously dictated by the environment, appears clearly.(I don't want to imply that all artists would react like me!).
    My place is close to the entrance of the property, to man-controlled world. While I'm working I can sometimes hear cars, an airplane, dogs barking, once a chain-saw in the distance. Dancing patches of light sieve through the clouds and the foliage. Whenever I rest, this place wraps me in its torpor. I feel that my activity is somehow an intrusion. The willow tree draws its nourishment from the creek, the life-blood of this canyon. There are also many other willows on the creek. Walking along it I find a lot of fallen willow branches; they are interesting because most of them are gently curved. I decided to use them for my piece. It took a lot of trampling and crawling and gathering to pile up enough material! I felt that I was repeating an extremely old activity, like preparing the wood for a fire or building a shelter. Millions of people have done it before! I feel the same when I'm walking in nature, I become as old as humanity, countless people have walked, are walking... Building the piece with branches was somehow like etching. Scratching line after line, playing with their orientation and with how they crossed.
    Little by little my piece takes shape, it becomes the symbol of the life-giving canyon. I gave it the name "Bountiful".
"Bountiful". Approximately 350 cm. long. Piece made out of willow branches and water. 
Escondido Phoenix, Malibu, California.Photo by Bernard Perroud

     Where the branches come together, towards the rising sun, I joined them with some red dirt from Sedona. At the end, bucket after bucket, I filled the inside with water from the creek.
     "Deep inside the sex of a woman is a mirror which sends back the image of the universe."
     On a sycamore, located on the East-West axis of the piece, I hung some words: "Here, within the canyon resides the mystery of rapture from which all creation springs forth."
"Bountiful". Bernard Perroud. "Bountiful". Bernard Perroud. "Bountiful". Bernard Perroud. Photo by Shubroto Chattopadhyay.
 "Bountiful". The sun reflected in the water. 
Approximately 350 cm. long. Piece made out of willow branches and water. Escondido Phoenix, Malibu, California.
Photo by  Bernard Perroud.
Signage hung from sycamore tree: 
"Here, within this canyon resides the mystery of rapture from which all creation springs forth."  Escondido Phoenix, Malibu, California. Photo by Bernard Perroud.
Signage hung from sycamore tree: close-up, 
"Here, within this canyon resides the mystery of rapture from which all creation springs forth." Escondido Phoenix, Malibu, California. Photo by Shubroto Chattopadhyay.

"Chromophore". The air. Bernard Perroud      Often, driving around, in the open landscape, my attention has been drawn to spots of color in the dis-
tance, they contrast sharply with their surrounding. Getting close to them, if the road allows me, almost inevitably, I would find out that they are plastic bags or some other indus- trial trash! Nevertheless, I liked these blotches of color!
    The late rains had left a lot of humidity. Flowers were blooming every-  where, making playful patches of vivid colors. I decided to join in and play with them. I made my own patches of colors with my own means: boards and pigments. I set them in dif- ferent places in the canyon, contrasting the artificial with the natural. I called them Chromophores. Some relate to neighboring flowers, others to the deep blue sky and one to the great threat for this kind of
"Chromophore". The fire. Bernard Perroud.
"Chromophore". The air.
Acrylic on particle board. Maximum dimension 70cm.
Escondido Phoenix, Malibu, California. Photo by Bernard Perroud.
place: fire! I dispersed them throughout the canyon to be discovered. "Chromophore". The fire.
Acrylic on particle board. Maximum dimension 70cm.
Escondido Phoenix, Malibu, California. Photo by Bernard Perroud.
    The place and the spirit of this event didn't allow for a restricted theme, the idea was to mediate a transitory impression in a remarkable landscape. Every artist brought his own individual contribution. Some made their statement bringing industrially manufactured materials, others played with existing local elements...
    It was a success and very rewarding. The participant artists were touched by the experience. Except for me, none had had a chance to interact with a natural environment before. We had many visitors. Some were very surprised at the novelty of the formula. The experience of art while strolling through this canyon was unlike any they had had in galleries, museums or urban plazas. Some stayed hours, contemplating different pieces. For them to be able to step out of the habitual places that one chooses for a good, healthy walk and discover art here and there (miss some too!), was a new, mind-opening, exciting experience.

By way of conclusion.
    I'm eager to take part in more of these Art in Nature shows. I'm going to organize other ones, in different settings, they can be done anywhere (I'd like to make one in a desert).It is a relatively new proposition in the world of art, it started about 10 years ago, and is already full of accomplishments and promises. It displays art in a way that can reach different, broader publics than traditional exhibitions. For instance, they are easier to visit with children to give just one example. I have a few in preparation. In June, in the vicinity of Florence (Italy), we want to recuperate the relationship between people and their urban environment through creativity sparked by Art in Nature. In July, this year, in Maine (USA), I will repeat the Malibu formula, adapting it to the local conditions.

    In many oriental countries one receives (or gives) food or a gift with joined hands, slightly crossed at the tip of the fingers, slightly cupped. It's a gesture full of gratitude and respect. Religious offerings are also made this way. Often, when I make a sculpture, I feel deep in myself this gesture, holding out my hands with the fruit of my work to the universe, in a deeply religious gesture.

Los Angeles, March 2001.
Bernard Perroud
"Bountiful". Detail of the point, with offering of nasturtiums.  Photo by Shubroto Chattopadhyay.
Detail of the point, with offering of nasturtiums. 
Approximately 350 cm. long. Piece made out of willow branches and water. 
Escondido Phoenix, Malibu, California. 
Photo by Shubroto Chattopadhyay.


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Artist's statement
Art 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
FundsXpress 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