Jean-Marc Cerino

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On large white canvases, Jean-Marc Cerino uses wax to represent human beings, alternating between anonymous figures and others with a public profile: philosophers appear alongside prisoners, homeless people, and patients in a psychiatric hospital. Beyond the singularity and recognition afforded by their individual traits, each of these characters is set against the same, indistinguishable white background that forms the basis of a kind of community and functions as the activation of a conjunction – one which is lent a certain tone by this conjunction. Cerino’s paintings on glass meanwhile represent the world from the perspective of this conjunction and all of its singularities. Together, they constitute an ensemble that suggests an inexhaustibility, an infinite quality. Created from largely anonymous photographs and drawings, the project offers what Cerino calls ‘a shared view of the world’, an interpretation echoed by Arlette Farge: “Jean-Marc Cerino works with simple photographs whose authors are unknown, reinforcing his certainty that his images contain something never before seen, heard, or felt in the same way. He paints from, and therefore represents: the readaptation at work here is his own, but it cannot be described as ‘imaginary’: to do so would be to neglect the fact that everyone dialogues differently with the other, and would overlook the essential element of this work, namely its ongoing process of sharing.” (1) With this technique of painting on and under glass, Cerino reactivates in the present some of the power of these archival documents. “Jean-Marc Cerino digs around in details and loses himself in the reserves, the layered densities or the pellucid veils of paint that he obtains by diluting his materials, before subsequently painting the other side, allowing the image to be revealed. The background thus provokes the simultaneous appearance and dissolution of the representation.” (2) The background that the image calls forth is also the background in which it is caught, into which it recedes.

This series of paintings, where images of catastrophe and failure alternate with others portraying dreams and hope, and where the extraordinary appears beside the ordinary, affirms that the past is at once that which took place and that which was dreamed of – and that the same is true of the present. It reminds us that “what is superimposed on the mass of ruins and debris left by the storm – unrelated to hope, or offering only the slightest glimmer – is another wind, the strange breeze of a lull.” (3)

(1) Arlette Farge in her text on Jean-Marc Cerino’s work. L’effraction de l’anonyme, exhibition catalogue, Erinnern, Musée de Göppingen & Musée d’Art Moderne de Saint-Étienne Métropole édition, 2013.

(2) Anne Favier in a text for the exhibition Le réel, des rêves, un monde, Galerie Bernard Ceysson - Paris, 2013.

(3) Jean-Christophe Bailly in his text on Jean-Marc Cerino’s work ‘L’effacement comme trace’, exhibition catalogue, Le grain des jours, Musée des beaux-arts de Dôle et galerie Bernard Ceysson édition, 2014.