Jérôme Zonder — Chairs grises
Past: October 17 → November 23, 2013
A story that leads nowhere
This exhibition places us at the heart of a story without necessarily offering the keys to a narrative: the drawings describe a fragmented and shattered story, with its edges covered in bumps and lumps. The narrative spaces mix, connect and combine each other like they would in the brain. This is what occurs in the images taken from the film Lord of the Flies which Jérôme Zonder drew his inspiration from in order to describe the savage and criminal urges of a neglected childhood: two hands intertwined, dusk that appears just after a murder, a grotesque mask. It is now within the tension of repressed feelings, the strangeness of the unsaid, and the moment of fear that comes just before blood that the artist has settled, even though he is determined to proceed with the self-imposed program: traveling from childhood to adolescence through drawing. It is a passage that is experienced as a haemorrhage of energy, a terrifying headlong rush.
Close-up on aggresiveness
Large drawings of insects will of course remind us of The Metamorphosis by Kafka or the horrid fantasised creatures of Naked Lunch by William Burroughs; but beyond these beings born out of delirium, what Zonder is seeking is a confrontation with the instinctual violence turned into flesh, and he does so by depicting an oversized wasp head in a close-up. When drawing for long and laborious hours, he ends up face to face with the animal’s eyes, antennae and mandibles; he is facing the worst nightmare and is in reality getting closer to what lies at the heart of fear itself. He seeks to create a portrait of aggressiveness turned into an act. For him, insects are a means of turning the noxiousness and danger of the bite into something direct and manifest. Because Evil itself is precisely something that will never have any shape or definition and here, it appears as a stinger or an oversized gun in the hand of a little blond girl.
Zonder’s world is in black and white. Contrary to a calming effect, this binary element triggers an irresistible and obsessive need for the viewer to imagine colours. What colour was the Auschwitz sky when in August 1944 Alex, a Greek Jew and member of the Sonderkommando, decided to photograph it? Today this sky is desperately grey, or maybe it is the fumes from the camps that prevent it from being blue… The image is blurred, vague, tragically appealing. There are outlines of bodies. There is a sense of haste and restlessness. For the first time, Zonder uses his fingers to draw with graphite powder, similar to ash dust. He leaves his mark, his physical print to blend in with the image and History. In the meantime, close by, a man is lying down holding his face in his hands, refusing the see the atrocities that humanity is capable of.