I have from mid 2011 onwards made engravings, initially as separate pieces and subsequently mostly as elements in a series on a theme: Resistance Fighters WWII (Lino cuts) , "Traces" (copper), "Humiliation - Human Dignity" (copper), but then - among more recent work - some stand on their own again.
Introduction to the Theme 'Traces'
When I thought about what might be a trace and how to treat it in printmaking, the infinity of the subject matter gradually dawned on me.
Traces can be inorganic or organic, permanent or ephemeral, and everything in between. They may take forms perceptible with one of our 5 traditional senses, or several at a time. Or they may be imperceptible to humans, unless they use tools to detect or measure them, devise models to describe them, or yet they will become known only when one opens up to one's intuition, to energy.
Organic traces are of plant, animal or human origin. If they are of human origin, they may be voluntary or involuntary, made consciously or not, take concrete forms or exist only in the form of ideas, including thoughts about oneself, as on one's thinking. Of all these examples I tried to express its diversity in the choice of these five etchings.
During a live drawing session in the studio, the model lacked movement. However I had a nice view of his feet and made the sketch that formed the origin of this engraving. Our wet bare feet leave multiple and temporary marks. These that are visible, are quick to disappear.
Copper 40X50 CM
In 2013-2014 I made 6 lino-cuts of resistance fighters who fought in the Haute Savoie (France) during WW II. This included one of Paul Lespine. Paul was seriously injured during his first fight, captured, tortured and murdered by a gun shot in the back. This is a copper engraving of Paul linked to the notion of time, the effect of wind on the water that is always similar yet different: Let's forever remember Paul, who died in defense of France at just 18 years old.
Copper 30X40 CM
While walking in the woods on the mountainside behind my house, a "cluster" of mushrooms illuminated by the setting sun caught my attention. These fungi released their fertile spores in a cloud where they mingled with the vapours escaping from the wet ground; fleeting traces of the periodic renewal of life.
Copper 40X50 CM
When Anne Frank began her diary, her first paragraph written on June 12th, 1942 began as follows: "I hope I can confide to you everything, as I haven't been able to do to anyone, and I hope you will be a great support to me."
Later, when Anne learned through radio London that after the war the government would publish a selection of diaries written by compatriots on their experiences in the occupied country, she wanted her diary to be part of this selection. What she had started as a secret diary turned into a most deliberate example of human traces; that is, a handwritten record for posterity.
Copper 40X50 CM
The old rafter structure was essentially the only part of the building of interest to the architect of the Monuments of France. For him it represented a priority trace of the past, made with the knowledge and tools of yesteryear. A work, irregular, without a drawn and described plan, but the lasting fruit of experience.
A friend told me that she saw it as a metaphor for the construction of our understanding of complex things, the sequence of our successive thoughts - traces of a mental construction.
Copper 40X50 CM
Humiliation - Human Dignity Introduction
Back in 1998, in the UNHCR office in Hargeisa, Somaliland, met with Evelin Lindner. She did her research on the dynamics of humiliation as a factor at both personal and societal levels of promoting (further) violence and war. Obviously Somalia, Somaliland and Rwanda were the main focus of our discussions at the time. We stayed in touch. Evelin and her friends meanwhile founded “Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies” - http://www.humiliationstudies.org - a global trans-disciplinary network and fellowship of concerned academics, practitioners, activists, artists, and many others. The network aims to stimulate systemic change, globally and locally, to open space for dignity, for mutual respect and esteem to take root and grow. Its goal is ending humiliating practices, preventing new ones from arising, and fostering healing from humiliation cycles throughout the world.
When Evelin saw some of my work in 2014 she asked me whether I could do something on the theme “humiliation - human dignity”. Once I focussed on the subject I noticed humiliation much more often than before, in the behavior of individuals of all stripes, in misinformed collective behavior as well. This realization contributed to the making of this series of engravings. I could have made very many different choices and chose what resonated with me most. There are many more engravings burgeoning in my head, but - may be - it is time to move on, while for always, committed to the subject and likely to take it up in some form again.
This engraving is to be seen in conjunction with Coup d’Etat 1973 in Chile (2) - Victor Jara
Together they depict the opposition between the brutal action of the Chilean army, soldiers masked by the anonymity and power that wearing their uniforms and carrying their weapons affords them, face to face with the single singer whose only weapons are his guitar, his voice and words.
Engraving Copper 40X50 CM.
Victor Jara (1932-1973) was a singer-song writer. He was arrested at the Tecnica during the coup of September 11, 1973, imprisoned and tortured, initially at the Estadio Chile and thereafter at the Estadio Nacional, along with many thousands of others. Jara wrote the poem "Estadio Chile" (also known as Canto qué mal me sabes) denouncing the coup. This poem remained unfinished because Víctor Jara was recognized by the military and quickly separated from other prisoners. He was assassinated on September 15th, after having had his fingers cut off with an ax.
Engraving Copper 30X40 CM.
The desperate act of self-immolation by Mohamed Bouazizi brought back memories of others who did so before him. As well as the long painful evolution that leads someone to choose to commit suicide in the most atrocious manner imaginable. Is it a last gesture to transform the humiliation suffered into a change of the world for the better for them who stay behind ? Attempts to capture this in a suitable manner escaped me. Therefore, less dramatic images have inspired me to make “Arab Spring”. Moments of hope, of doubts, fear and anger, moments, full of confusion and difficult to transform into progress intermingle. Hands are raised, yet open before they transform themselves into fists in the absence of a new and more equitable balance.
Engraving Copper 40X50 CM.
My Word is Free
I am those who are free and never fear, I am the secrets that will never die, I am the voice of those who would not give in, I am the meaning amid the chaos, I am the right of the oppressed, That is sold by these dogs, Who rob the people of their daily bread, And slam the door in the face of ideas ........
I am free and my word is free .........
Engraving Copper 30X40 CM.
The innumerable deaths, victims of chemical weapons, of ferocious indiscriminate combat along multiple lines, aerial bombings. The miraculous survivor, apparently unhurt but marked forever, who emerges from the ruins, the father who repeats an act, countless times performed in so many conflicts, attempting to save his daughter, without having anywhere to go with her.
The right to seek asylum - part of a millennia old and universal tradition and the duty to protect are in question, as is our humanity, when labelling them as “migrants”, closing borders, refouling them towards the very dangers to their survival that they’ve escaped from. Why ? Why now ?
Engraving Copper 40X50 CM.
Who are they ? What are they thinking ? A number of bankers and politicians and their acolytes, behind the impeccable facades of stainless steel and reinforced glass, beyond security desks and armed personnel. Too big to fail, they wear equally impeccable suits, demanding respect. Too frequently they make up their own rules, gaming the playing field through complexity and deceit.
And who are they ? And what are they thinking ? The majority, who are by and large law-abiding and mostly powerless. They were and often still are unaware of the parallel realities that engulf them, which make a mockery of our democracies, of the very foundations of justice for all, including the notion that we are all created equal, with inalienable rights …….
Engraving Copper 40X50 CM.
P.S.: I did not intend picturing a burning US flag. The forms represent several Greek flags agitated - as a reference to the Greek national identity being crushed - by the demonstrating pensioners etc, whose livelihoods have been lowered to below existence levels, .......
“Everything is decided for me, about me, without me". Tears, tears and more tears transform into silence, unfathomable depths of intense sadness, as no other. This - in the end - is what stuck with me, combined with a sense of utter powerlessness on her part and on mine. And then she begged not be abandoned to psycho-pharmaceuticals.
Being diagnosed with schizophrenia, a â€œpatientâ€ is hemmed in by the environment, medical protocols and neutralized for the patient's protection, but also for the convenience of his or herenvironment. Yes, I do understand that protective boundaries are essential.
Still until present, mankind seems to know comparatively little about mental health, the brain and the full complexity of its functioning. Though, more recently, tools to observe the brain's livefunctioning and new understandings as to how to influence it, have become available and continue to increase in scope. Impressive progress is leading to old brain theories being debunked and new horizons being opened up. Yet, for most, patient treatments lag behind, pharmaceutical approaches remain crude, exacerbated by economic or at times abusive profit considerations.
My direct experience with only a limited number of cases , as I am not a mental health professional, taught me something else as well. Thus I will not venture further than to say that I have witnessed clear differences that defy simplification, as well as a spectrum of states over time in one and the same person, as in all of us. Moments of essential genuineness in people in these very states were awe-inspiring. For me, some boundary breaking writings of Virginia Woolf are evidence of this, even when she chose in the end to put a stop to the insufferable that she had resisted for so long.
I watched the impact of the rising sunlight hitting on the frosted windscreen of my car. The ice sheet started breaking up, and the beginnings of segments forming and then sliding down. First they were big segments, but quickly they became ever smaller ones. I noticed the beautiful forms that opened up and transformed continuously. I saw them for what they were, passages of light. Initially the passage of light had been obstructed by the ice sheet that had formed overnight. But then these fleeting shapes that formed and self-destructed by the light of the rising sun were - yet again - symbols of a new dawn.
When might is in money and money is in power, immutable rules of fundamental principles are easily bent, new rules introduced to tilt the playing field in its favor, once more and again once more. Herein lies the challenge of our time, again, as for our parents before and for our children after us. Whistle blowers see what’s going on and counter with truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, and beyond the “legal” with that which is just. Frequently, they fall victim to their own courage, their commitment to what is universally and immutably right. We need to stand with them, accept our vulnerability when we do so, if we want to retain our integrity and our dignity.
The Following are pieces of work that don't fit a particular theme. Most of them are earlier work, but not all. Each has a specific text providing additional information as appropriate.
I wanted to do a portrait. When listening to music of Philip Glass, I looked for his pictures on the internet. I made a few sketches of what I found and chose one among many to work with. It reminded me of my childhood friend, Toon Vieijra, who I just met after some 35+ years at my expo in Warmond (Netherlands, March 2017). It reminded me of my younger self as well.
Later on, after having well advanced with this engraving, Serge told me that the picture was a giant “realistic” painting, not a photograph. The original painting is by Chuck Close.
You'll find a tutorial documenting the process of making this single plate copper engraving.
Canson Paper 36X48 CM Plate 20X30 CM
I sought to combine a number of things, with the idea of breaking loose, freeing oneself, what this engraving really is about, and on the other hand something that is sufficiently graphic. Therefore, the variants in tone (light to dark) and sloping lines that suggest a density on the right and a kind of void left, because that suggests a 3rd dimension, volume.
The hole is also close to the grating-empty emptiness. Often, I think, it is. When you try to liberate yourself from something oppressive and make with great difficultythe hole to pass through, it appears that in a broader universe you were already close to liberation / liberation.
Most dark lines in the middle, where the breaking apart seems to happen, are not so tight at their ends, but are loosely wrapped around others.
Paper 50X60 CM - Plate 30X40 CM
William D. Clarance …
I served as William Clarance’s Deputy during the larger part of my assignment in Vietnam (1978-1981). Among other programmes, it was then that the so-called “Orderly Departure Programme”, allowing for safe travel of eligible Vietnamese, was developed as a remedy to unsafe massive boat departures from southern Vietnam after the end of the decades long Vietnam war. Clarance proved a pragmatic creative lawyer-diplomat and we became inseparable friends.
In 1988 Clarance was posted to Colombo to head the UNHCR repatriation monitoring and reintegration programme for Tamil refugees repatriating from South India. Soon after his arrival the Eelam War II broke out and Tamil refugees who had recently repatriated were poised to yet again seek asylum in India in what- for the purpose of this brief description - I’ll call “a complicated context”. It is under these circumstances that Clarance conceived of “self-regulating refuge” by means of creating “open relief centres”. These centres were marked zones of humanitarian neutrality under the UN flag. The zones were established through - back to back agreements with Tamil combattants and the Sinhalese government - an innovative form of in-country small-scale protection with broad impact in that situation, as well as other theaters of conflict in years to come.
Clarance’s book - Ethnic Warfare in Sri Lanka and the UN Crisis (ISBN 0-7453-2525-4) - describes this in detail.
Copper plate, dry-point, aquatint, Charbonnel ink bistre & burnt sienna, on Canson Montval paper 36X48 CM - Plate 25X34 CM
Copper plate, dry-point, aquatint, Charbonnel ink burnt sienna , ultramarine on Canson Montval paper 36X48 CM - Plate 25X34 CM
Copper plate, dry-point, aquatint, Charbonnel ink burnt sienna on Canson Montval paper 36X48 CM Plate 25X34 CM
I did this subject first in Lino and then in Copper. Comparing the two engraved versions of the same original drawing illustrates some of the graphic options provided by one and the other technique. The grooves in a Lino print create the whites in a pure binary print as this one. In the copper engraving the parts that remain white in the print are the few places where the acid never touches the copper, by being covered all along by varnish. The various shades of the Copper print are the result of various parts being exposed for various lengths of time to the acid.
Copper plate, dry-point, aquatint, Charbonnel ink sap-green, deep yellow and burnt sienna on Canson Montval paper 36X48 CM - Plate 20X30 CM
"A slight gravity"
Matter(s) to read, poetry to touch - 3rd exhibition of the Book of Artists and Editorial Creation: "A slight gravity" collective exhibition, "etchings and texts rub shoulders in space; each engraving responds to the theme, each text to an engraving. First meeting between the members of the Gaillard Group of Engravers and the writing workshop Les Bouilleurs de mots (MJC of Saint-Julien-en-Genevois) at the invitation of the Maison du Livre d’artistes, Lucinges.
Comme le sourcier
qui cherche la source
avec son pendule,
je cherche ces instantanés
de vie, un rien:
un vol de palombes, et l’immensité du ciel
à partager, ou bien, sur une plage déserte,
face à la mer, rien à l’horizon,
et brusquement une joie à l’intérieur
et cette sensation de tout posséder.
Et aussi, cet instant ou le vent ébouriffe
tes cheveux par un beau soir d’été
et la douceur du baiser volé.
Je mettrai le temps qu’il faut.
Et comme le soucier qui cherche la source avec son pendule,
je chercherai mes souvenirs, pour m’abreuver de quelques gouttes
et sentir palpiter en moi ce tout petit frisson de bonheur.
Tout à coup, elle est envahie
par la mélancolie,
remplie par cette musique de
sanglots et de soupirs.
La voix grave et triste se répand
en notes, été pénètre dans le coeur
avec un telle force
qu’elle en oublie que ce n’est que
la voix du violoncelle.
C’est la fin du concert mais l’émotion est toujours là,
ponctuée par un long silence ….. Elle ferme les yeux
et revoit ses mains tenant l’archet comme
le prolongement de son âme.
Le musicien est déjà parti
Négligemment posé sur
une table basse dans un coin
du salon, le violoncelle semble
Le musicien est déjà parti.
Il est assis là-haut sur un rayon de lune.
Ses mains sont restées là, éclairées par
le rayonnement éblouissant et envoûtant de la musique.
Elles écrasent les cordes, les torturent, les broient
mais les caressent aussi.
De son fidèle archet proviennent
parfois des sanglots.