03-25 August 2019, Obernai, Alsace, France
Until August 25, the exhibition of Gerard Brandt was held in the old Alsatian town of Obernai, where he exhibited hundreds of his works, “Journey’s reflection in the stone” as part of the 9th Biennale of Contemporary Mosaic.
His mosaics are both crazy and understandable. “All is imaginary – it is poetry,” says Gerard Brand.
Copper, glass fragments, lead strips, polished stainless steel scraps, old painted pieces of fittings, marble, colorful bright smalt – all this come to life in the artist’s hands. Gerard Brandt has been engaged in mosaics for over 60 years. It is no exaggeration to say: mosaic is his life.
– We are all fragments of a mosaic – you, I, a tree, a picture, a letter in a word … If you blink, you will see small dots. When you look at the wheat field from above, it is a golden square, but if you come closer, you will see that the square consists of spikelets, if you come closer, it turns out that the spikelet consists of grains. This is all a mosaic. It is simple on the one hand, and crazy on the other. All imaginary is pure poetry.
In one of the parts of the exposition, the 78-year-old artist put together a collection of the latest mosaics created between 2016 and 2017. All in contrast, mosaics play on the contrast of transparency and opacity, emptiness and fullness.
This is what Gerard Brand calls a “clean” mosaic: tesseraes hangs in the air, weightless and free.
“A weightless, floating mosaic is my contribution to the thousand-year history of mosaics,” he says.
The difficulties and their skillful solution inherent in this technique of execution are clearly visible in the mosaic images of his portraits of historical and mythical characters. Empress Theodora and her husband Justinian, god Eros, mother and child. These are all symbolic faces of the artist’s “meetings, important periods, travels”
The next theme proposed by Gerard Brand for this 9th mosaic biennale was «Chrysalis», and its presentation was initially confusing.
Why did he put his mosaics in jars? As it turned out, this is not what you think – it is not relics locked out of time. According to Gerard, this is his new creative era.
– This year I wanted to take a break. Therefore, I took parts of the mosaics I worked with, pieces of paintings, sculptures, filled these jar-chrysalis with them and sealed them to symbolize the closed period. But just as a new life is gradually arises in a cocoon, a new entity is forming, so something new is born in these jars. From this alchemy are born new ideas, a new creative era. The point is to show what came before, and what could happen next.
For Gerard Brand, these are not reliquary jars, but cocoons of pupae. From the negligible amount of stone, wood and metal, in the workshop bubble a new being, a new life is arises. Incredible alchemy comes into play and a transmutation of matter arises. From small stones, pieces of wood and metal, a new life is arises in the bubble of the workshop.
Just as a caterpillar locks itself in its cocoon to give us the most wonderful butterflies, rebirth will occur, and through the mosaic incredible bestiary will be born.
Griffins, giraffes, species that did not exist or do not exist now, myths and their creations. As always, the artist is generous, and his imagination is full. A demiurge and midwife, he will hatch impossible species out of his cans by means of endless genesis: he will create a plant from stone and an animal from a plant. The universe comes to life before our stunned and incredulous eyes. And then, with the enthusiasm of an entomologist, he will present on stage this new generation of incredible hybrids. He places them in the glass vessels in order to better distinguish them, for a brighter our perception
Surprisingly, these chimeras do not scaring, do not carrying the burden of violence and ferocity, as it may seems at first glance. This is a world of miracles, a world of fairy tales of a thousand and one nights. Animals shine with bright pieces of smalt on their transparent wings. They are presented to us in lightness and absolute beauty. They are in love with their outfits, enjoy their irresistibility and shine, enraptured by the attention of the viewer.
ГоTown of Obernai
Obernai is located in the heart of Alsace, with about 12,000 inhabitants. One of the most popular tourist routes in France runs through it. On the Wine Route, at the foot of the Vosges and Mont-Saint-Odile, at the beginning of the Great Agricultural Plain, town Obernai is lies in the lush greenery.
The medieval city, the imperial city of the Holy Roman Empire, the legendary cradle of Saint-Odile, Obernai is the real quintessence of Alsace. The town of Obernai, with its ramparts, fortified towers, log houses and narrow streets, has preserved its medieval charm to our times.
Due to its restaurants and an abundance of sporting and cultural events, Obernai is the 2nd tourist city in Rhine Valley after Strasbourg.
Preparing this article, we used materials were kindly provided by the Obernai Department of Tourism. www.obernai.fr
Some description of the event, quotes from articles by Luc Dornstetter and Léonie Deloy, published in a Biennale press release, were used.