Galerie Catherine Putman is pleased to present «Réjouis-toi ...» by Gérard Traquandi.
The exhibition awards great importance to the artist’s work on paper and is part of the history of singular collaboration between Gérard Traquandi and the gallery.
On the occasion of the publication in 2020 of a portfolio of xylographies, the gallery is showing a large number of the engravings by the artist that it has published over the last twenty years.
The works are accompanied by a selection of drawings and monotypes.
«Gérard Traquandi has always been fascinated by the obscure zones of art, between single and multiple, between the original and the reproduction. His half-tone engravings, phototypes, resinotypes and gum bichromates are midway between photography and prints, between drawing and the printed image» as Jean-Pierre Angremy wrote in 1997 in the introduction to the booklet published for the exhibition devoted by the Bibliothèque Nationale to the prints made by this artist from Marseille. Although they no longer have a relation with photography, the engravings, monotypes, transfers and preparatory drawings that he is showing today at Galerie Catherine Putman still shake up the limits of genres and categories.
These erudite and sensual works on paper, with subtlety underlying their apparent simplicity, are proof of Gérard Traquandi’s mastery of prints.
The first words of the Archangel Gabriel to the Annunciate Virgin, « a representation of the mystery of the Incarnation, of the irruption of the immeasurable into the real world » , form the title, used for the exhibition, of the portfolio of chiaroscuro xylographies on the theme of the five senses that Gérard Traquandi made recently for Galerie Catherine Putman. Inspired by the precious aesthetics of the chiaroscuro prints of the Renaissance and Italian mannerism, each plate is limited to two colours, delicate halftones whose superimposition (line plate and colour plate) gives shadows and light, volume and movement. Traquandi uses an original mixture of sacred and profane to suggest each of the senses: the barely sketched silhouette of the Virgin of the Annunciation using her ears to represent hearing or that of the Apostle Thomas leaning over the body of Christ to represent touch. The motifs are light and reduced to the essential, closely framed. Movement and gesture seem to have been traced with a brush, like wash drawings with which chiaroscuro engraving has always flirted. These xylographies are the fruit of a slow process of composition-decomposition of the image, leaving one to guess at the preparatory drawings presented with the plates in the portfolio. Drawing is at the heart of Traquandi’s work. Starting with a sketch of a motif, in nature or in a museum, painted or sculpted scenes with a continuous pen line recording relations of masses and rhythms, the artist builds up his images by playing on the shifts and contretemps that are features of the printing techniques. Made using these indirect procedures, engravings, aquatints or transfers seem to carry a souvenir of the sensations shown in the sketch.
Light and rhythm
A triptych of aquatints in black, green and orange, untitled, renders the magic of the vibrations of light on the large windows of the Louvre. With tormented browns or transparent pinks, aquatint washes form wonderful abstract landscapes, stormy skies or sunsets, sometimes with the arabesques of an etched line.
Gérard Traquandi’s prints have the subtle chromatic harmonies of his paintings. You can also see the extreme attention paid to the papers chosen—matt or pearl as in the series printed on Chine collé and in which the delicate drypoint line suggests the light movement of a pine branch. In the monotypes, the procedure used to transfer motifs to the sheet from a monochrome base (like the use of carbon paper) gives foliage, fruit and flower motifs a delicate fragility with enchanting grace and musicality.
Cécile Pocheau Lesteven
Head of contemporary prints and artist’s book conservation
at the BnF (Bibliothèque nationale de France).
September 12 - October 24, 2020