Pierre Clemens by Georges Meurant. April 2003.
Today's artist faces the summits of the great "created everything" since the Paleolithic, accessible directly or through the media. If he does not drown in the contemporary variety, going beyond the idea that everything has been done, he sets to work. The work he proposes to the eye is made to capture the gaze and thus penetrate the senses, beyond the conscious, as soon as the understanding of its imagery reduces its appeal to the intellect, as soon as the open debates are silenced. In order for it to reach the viewer, to work on him, to activate him, it needs, in some way, the energy to reach out to him.
Pierre Clemens continues his journey, under other appearances and by other means. The mountains that he used to tear from the surface of the lithographic stone treated in black, he now obtains from three points worked with the appropriate software tools. He has built up a collection of primary forms which, when mechanically imposed on an image of his choice, mimic the natural dynamics that have long inspired his imagination. He pursues the study of stone through its purity, the signalling of linear development through the multiplication of photographic details which show, in the illusion of volume, the growth of the line, the accidents of its progression, the hazards of its bifurcations and its demultiplication through branching. From magnified detail to expanse, Clemens progresses in search of space, between appearance and structure. The combinations concretise gaps that are all the more abysmal because the foundation that he attempts, fed by absolutes, mixes sensory perception and concept.
The hesitation of drawing and its extreme sensitivity have been replaced by the efficiency and speed of the multiplication of images confronted in vast kaleidoscopic combinations. Computers are certainly only a tool, but a formidable one for the mind, which it sometimes confronts with founding truths, sometimes with deceptions. In the same way, the photo, once the guarantor of objectivity, is now nothing more than ordered forms, according to a representation in particular, which the calculation of an automaton will transform, for example, into vast landscapes extracted from the film showing the low altitude flight of a telluric shock which persists, it seems, in taking place in an insane duration or the most extreme slowness, relative to the rhythm of our lives. These landscapes of faults, decisive in their emblematic geography, are in fact only virtually flown over, resulting from the 3D processing of a photo representing the artist in profile, anamorphoses in short, but from which we will hardly find the angle of view. The software has produced the fracture from a simple difference in luminosity that is extraordinarily accentuated. Water, air, shadows, plants sometimes: this software is designed to create credible landscapes, with a naturalistic precision and yet based on the exacerbation of contrasts.
What is the relationship between the identity that is being sought and the exploitation of surface accidents of an appearance already reduced by the lens? "I am the landscape" is an inversion or the inside of a mask. Is it to feed a mystery? Pierre projects himself into the mineral universe like, he thinks, the Chinese in marble. But the Dream Stone reveals no identity, only the natural energy that the scholar recognises, to the point of naming the moment. And the Tao is not simply binary. Its flow embraces whoever perceives in his flesh, for an instant or forever, the cascade of mutations that governs what is. The work demands adherence to oneself. Mastery or sensitivity are at best an illusion. Clemens gradually groped his way to himself, drawing on his inner self instead of knowing what to do or say. It is in the duration of such journeys, through successive mutations, that the work is made. The landmarks chosen mark out immensities, on either side of the duality. The beat of consciousness - unconsciousness merges with that of positive - negative, in the photographic sense.
"Portrait of a Skull" presents the gap between the photograph of the object (a painted clay model) and the processing of the shot through software, with the addition of cloudy skies and still waters. "Gameland" is a game of sky dots made of screen captures on a flight simulator, a vertigo without gravity, whose glimpses answer in mirror to the "Multi-portrait" of the artist's gaze. "Vanities" brings these two themes together, more lightly, more impersonally. Dynamics or their suggestion, an omnipresent temporal dimension, the opening up of spaces, even if they are fictitious: the elements come together, whose fusion will impose the activity of this work. But if sometimes it takes the consciousness of the mind to perceive the part of tension that does not address the body first and therefore does not target the unconscious, sometimes it is on the contrary the body that we must abandon ourselves to receive the part that acts on our senses and therefore on ourselves, even if we do not consciously participate in its efficiency. Let us not anticipate, the puzzle is still scattered. Clemens multiplies his variations of oriented series, set in various contrasts. Contrast is to perception what paradox is to the intellect. Can it be that such antagonisms combine their effects? This happens in works with composite dimensions (cinema, opera). For those that are only based on flat supports, the attempt to overcome the "impossible" is an excellent motor for creation.