Contemporary French artist Bernard Moninot in India

The Embassy of France in India, the National Gallery of Modern Art (NGMA), Mumbai and the Galeirie Nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris presented the Bernard Moninot exhibition at the NGMA hall. The exhibition unveiled Bernard Moninot's works created between 1983 and 2000, revealing the evolution of this peculiar artist who works on the underlying nature of the image with shadows and lights. This was the third visit of the artist to India. Bernard Moninot came for the first time in India in 1981 for a meeting between Indian and European artist, which he extended by a study tour of the Jantar Mantar in Delhi and Jaipur. These places, where geometry rises up from the ground to draw its moving shadows on it, are an integral part of Bernard Moninot's artistic path, leaving their marks on the artist's works. About 10 years later, he was invited to India to travel throughout Rajasthan. He took notes, which inspired his the Ombres portees (Cast Shadows), works with the suggestive names like Mathura, Fatehpur, Mandawa, Samod and Amber. Most of these were exhibited in this retrospective. Bernard Moninot's work is a smooth and confident research, a pursuit of the absolute nature of the image, which consists of the reality of the drawings on the one hand and the phenomena of the shadow on the other hand. The great presence of his works impregnates our mind beyond our vision and leaves a trace, a zone of shadow in our deep consciousness. Although the principle of his work is simple, their meaning is indissociable from the relations between the artist, the materials and the methods used at work. These relations are actually always based on a thought about the nature of shadows, the transparency of materials and the care to draw an image, which should be able to reflect the process of its creation. He explains that he wants to 'show the concept of time on paper'. The glass paintings of Moninot immortalize the poetic, fragile, furtive, but nevertheless lasting trace of a system, which generates its own image in order to wonder about it in a better way. Bernard Moninot works with real objects that he makes himself. He creates a source of light so that shadows appear, extending and making the objects more complex. The exhibition will show one of these devices similar to the installations present in his studio where he stages some of the objects with which he is working: wheels, clews, wire, small geometric objects and enigmatic constructions in steel, copper and brass created to be the source of a previously defined shadow. Because most of the works of Bernard Moninot are the consequence of a step-by-step process; originating in these luminous installations and leading to a transfer of the drawing onto glass. The lines created by cast shadows are marked and then engraved on a wooden panel. Next Moninot pours powders in the carved parts: graphite dust (A Ciel ouvert II, Open Sky II, 1988), white (Murmure du son, Murmur, 1991) or colored (Horizon, 1990) silica dust and colored pigments (Constellation, 1991; Horizon II, 1995). He then places the wooden panel above a sheet of varnish coated glass and gives a little impact to the wooden panel. This impact stands at the origin of the transfer of the drawing from the wooden panel to the sheet of glass capturing the powders of the drawing. The sheet of glass is then surrounded by a metallic frame with anchor clips, which allow setting off the work from the wall, inducing a positive stagger of the plances, generating a cast shadow or a cast light. This process allows two types of glass drawing one in positive, which reproduce exactly the initial drawing and projects its shadow on the wall; and the other one in negative, where light peering through the vacuums of the drawing clearly projects the image. In 1992, a new process stands behind the Ombres portees (Cast Shadows), series of works with names evoking mysterious astronomical gardens: Lodi, Mathura, Fatehpur'The artist first took pictures of drawings and patterns of light that caught his attention and then created a three-dimensional structure with small pieces of white enamel plates, reproducing the initial drawing and giving it some shape and volume. Exhibited on a white wall and lightened, this structure conveys the meaning through the shadow it generates. Light becomes shadow, which draws geometric patterns. In the works created between 1995 and 1998 (Resonance; Horizon), the transfer process is replaced by a direct engraving on black carbon paper, where blue pigments fill incisions. Because of their spirit and the use of black these works could be related to the Flammes solaires (Solar Flames, 1983-1984). Created from the use of lamp black and graphite black, the drawings of this series are inspired by a visible ' under certain conditions ' phenomena in the solar corona, whose properties are revealed by the two blacks; the lamp black, flat absorbs the light whereas the graphite black, brilliant, reflects it. Only black rectangles would have been seen if the circular device of exhibition did not allow the light to be reflected according to the angles of incidence of light on the brilliant parts. In the most recent work, La Memoire du vent (Memory of the Wind, 2000), all constituents elements of Bernard Moninot's research are present: glass, shadow, light, black and phenomenon. Through the exhibited works, the look at light, materials, drawing and shadow accomplish a journey whose effects impregnate the way of looking. On the occasion of this exhibition, a special Indian catalogue edited in English, comprising articles about his works by French specialists of contemporary art, was released. The exhibition and the book definitely gave a deeper understanding of Bernard Moninot's artistic journey.

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