Tayloe Piggott Gallery is pleased to present Le Bois de Mametz, an exhibition of drawings, a print and film by artist, Jeffrey Blondes. Blondes began this project in 2016, with a time-based HD 24 hour film and edition print of still images of a tree he discovered in a woods on the site of a famous WWI battle.
For this exhibition, Blondes created twelve drawings working from the film. The series documents the camera’s movement up the tree trunk at dawn through the branches and canopy of summer; then in reverse (upside down) in winter when the tree and its leafless branches evoke the human body, its nervous system and arteries.
Until now, whether filming, painting or drawing the landscape, Blondes worked out of doors before the subject. For this series he drew in his studio from a film that was simultaneously displayed on a screen and projected on a wall.
Initially trained in photography, Blondes transitioned into the mediums of painting and drawing in the early 1980’s. In 1992 he moved with his family from Paris to the Loire Valley to immerse himself in the natural world. Eventually, he abandoned traditional practices to solely exercise the medium of long-form video as it gave him freedom to explore the transience of nature and its impermanence in a unique way. His latest work is a return to the stillness of drawing as meditations on le Bois de Mametz.
David Jones, a Welsh artist and poet who fought and was injured on the battlefield at le Bois de Mametz, captured Blondes’ imagination and he proceeded to fictionalize the artist-soldier’s experience there. In the artist’s mind, Jones, author of the epic poem In Parentheses - depicting the horrors of the ‘Great War’ - crawls to take refuge beneath a giant tree in the early hours of the battle that began at sunrise. Slowly filming up the tree and down again, Blondes creates a metaphor for the crawling, standing, spinning and falling of an injured man who as he lays on his back, observes sparkling light filtered through the leaves before closing his eyes. Jones, who survived the war, painted a singular tree many times over; the most famous of which, Vexilla Regis, is in Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge UK. Blondes chose one of the few remaining trees that survived the battle in the Bois de Mametz as the subject of his homage.
Some of his drawings are almost photorealist, while others are more abstract explorations of shape, pattern and texture - focused on bark and negative space between leaves and branches. Their contemplative character, like Blondes’ films, suggest a slowed rhythm and are a meditation on light, texture and form that is resoundingly peaceful and free of suggestion.
Jeffrey Blondes was born in Washington DC and moved to Paris in 1981. His work is in a range of public and private collections, including the Centre d’Arts et de Nature, Chaumont-sur-Loire; Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris, and Lyman Allyn Museum, New London, CT. He is also represented by bitforms gallery, New York, NY; Nicholas Metivier Gallery, Toronto; and GBS Fine Art in the UK. Among his film commissions are a private collection in Wilson, WY; Borusan Contemporary, Istanbul, Turkey and Stanford Arts, Stanford University, CA. Blondes’ films, besides being in many private and public collections worldwide, are exhibited in patient-care areas of hospitals internationally, including Memorial Sloan Kettering, New York, NY; John Hopkins, Baltimore, MD and St. Thomas Hospital, London, UK.