On the occasion of Art on Paper in Bozar, a new book Drawing a Blank is published with 24 drawings of Johan Creten from the years 1987 & 1988. Colin Lemoine wrote the accompanying text.
Available for € 45, postage and packaging included. Order here, please mention your name and address.
During Art on Paper, the book will also be available in the Bozar bookshop.
I see Johan Creten pick up the sheet of Arches paper and put it on the table, or perhaps on the floor. I see him facing this legendary paper that was conceived in 1492, as if the invention of paper and the discovery of America had been one and the same. They are, in fact. Because drawing is like casting anchor in the New. The white sheet of paper is always a virgin continent, intimidating. On this same Arches paper, Manet, Magritte and Warhol also tried to render the thickness of reality in two dimensions, sharing the same medium years apart so that, although the scores they produced differed, the instrument used to bring about this miracle was the same. Creten knows this: Arches is a paper Pleyel, each sheet of which invariably bears the delicate stamp, the authentic stamp, which will soon be covered by disrespectful acrylic.
The paper is thick. One sees that it drinks, that it is going to drink, that it is thirsty for colours. The intoxication of the grain that is not toxic. The edges are irregular: what’s the point of guillotining, pruning, cropping, taming the contours, quartering the sheet? Gesture, impulse, imagination are what matter here. One can be marginal without margins.
I see adhesive tape, collages, cut papers. Immixture of the world’s prose. The paper drinks it all up – the glasses of absinthe and the dizzying smudges. Everything is stained. Everything stains. Everything impresses itself. It is summer and the world sweats forms that soak the paper everywhere. The bestiary is there, welcomed at the time of the diluvian madness. Noah’s Arches paper, where one must save what must be saved: madness, ink, metamorphoses.
Sometimes a fine line nestles in the heart of the paper, regular as a metronome and trembling like a seismograph, composed by those very early computers into whose beginnings Johan Creten, insensible to hierarchies, does not hesitate to delve. The childhood of art, when the machine revives poetry and chance. Better still, a certain gesturality. Mechanical gestures of the mechanism. Automatic writing.
I see certain forms which, today implicit, tomorrow will rise to the surface of the paper to become sculptures, thus pearls and glories which will gain a dimension in order to be no longer rounds but balls – cherries and palle.
It is summer, the computer crackles, gasps. The storm rumbles. Sweltering heat of life.
It is hot, summer is bright and dark.
I see Johan Creten stir the peat, pick up the charcoal, get to work.
I see him read the summer like others read grounds.
There is no more bitterness, just the truth.
Fragments of a text by Colin Lemoine for brand new cataloque ‘Drawing a Blank, published parallel with Art on Paper, September 2021