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As a child, I thought the quest for art had to be like a dream beyond values and realities.

It was my idea then, and I allowed myself to persue it.
Viewing*, perception** and consciousness*** are the ingredients of artworks.

In this process, technique is only the reflection of needs.

*Viewing : sublimation of what one sees and/or imagines
**Perception : transcended result of the viewing
***Consciousness : appreciation of the passage from viewing to perception

Bruno Tanquerel


REALM OF FANTASY, by Dr. Elaine A. King

Bruno Tanquerel’s imagery is celebration of fantasy. Humor and sadness coincide in his assemblages, a mixture of familiarity and imagination. This art bears eloquent witness to Tanquerel’s life experience and to his sensitive observations of human comedy. His unique iconography may be understood as a form of poetic metaphor expressed with a system of private signs. This is an art which is technically inventive. Tanquerel never accepts or recognizes the formal limitations of anything. His aesthetic is a pastiche of styles in which categories become blurred. His fusion of abstraction and figuration result in a gesturing of line which transforms the ordinary and everyday into dramatic theatricality.

Building on this French heritage, Tanquerel has created a vitalized mythology in which intellect and wit meet and coalesce in the realm of fantasy. Living most of his adult life in Paris, Tanquerrel has been witness first-hand to the art of the great masters. His curious expression evinces the idiom of the enigmatic, intellectual Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp’s pioneering Dada spirit which associates art with non-art, his confusing traditional hierarchy of artistic values, producing objects from everyday material, and his insistence on challenging the audience’s preconceptions about art and taste, were particularly influential in shaping the conceptions of Tanquerel. Many of these characteristics surface in this art which, too are filled with contradiction and a sense of defiance. Punning becomes a critical device for releasing the emotional content of the younger artist’s work. However, the nihilistic impulse which underlines the master’s disconcerting values is absent in the philosophical thinking of Bruno Tanquerel.

It would be wrong to associate his aesthetic with the Neo-Dada art which builds on a nihilist foundation and has been passed down to younger generations through the output of Klein and Warhol. A closer affinity can be drawn with the art of Paul Klee who endeavored to translate his visual meanings of an isolated and detached society through highly whimsical, deliberate child-like, raw hieroglyphs. Tanquerel, like Klee, searches for a means to represent essences about human relationships through his compelling abstract pictorial expressive lines and inventive spaces.
The BLUES series of serigraph prints represents a curious amalgam of Tanquerel’s artistic explorations. Not only is the book format a departure from his large-scale installations and multi-paneled paintings, but also the content of his imagery is even more pronouncedly personal than his previous intimate figural depictions. Two distinct editions of the book have been printed, the larger of the two consists of thirty books printed on craft paper bound with a thick cardboard cover and a deluxe edition of four printed on Japanese rice paper bound with an aluminium cover. The idea for this book came from a series of assemblage paintings Tanquerel began in 1985. The symbolic clover leap depicted in both the painting and print series stems from the time when the artist found nine four-leaf clovers and gave seven to his wife for a present. It became an important element because of its universal symbolism. The tiny dried objects were preserved and later incorporated into the painting of the series. The elongated figures, evocative of Giacometti’s sculptural forms, were inspired by the process of chance. Tanquerel began tearing the lead wrapping off of wine bottles in 1984. He became fascinated by the endless range of possibilities resulting from the accidental configurations. He state: “While printing the images for the book, I thought of the alchemist trying to transform lead into gold. I became amused with the idea of recycling the lead wine bottle cap into art. I like the idea of using poor man’s materials and transforming them into art.”
The title BLUES appears incongruous with the book’s contents because of its association with jazz music and soul wrenching allegory. A type of inversion of meaning is implied here. An examination of the visually poetic scenes reveals joyful human encounters instead of melancholy compositions. When asked about this Tanquerel replied: “The BLUES is the music of the common man. Through it, personal stories are told from the soul. I equate the color blue with man’s soul. The title of my book BLUES stems from a relationship with music and the outpouring of the soul.” A definite rhythmic dancelike cadence is felt as one turns the pages of BLUES. This sensibility is created by the alternating positioning of the figural elements and the artist’s use of line, color and space.
This series is comprised of twenty-two original serigraphs depicting everyday scenes inspired by urban life. In such titles as SUBWAY, CONVERSATION, SEDUCTION, and LA NUIT, one finds curios biomorphic, humanoid shapes striking expressively dramatic poses. The artist appears to be highlighting personal striking expressively dramatic poses. The artist appears to be highlighting personal critical episodes in a silent and veiled manner. The rectangular form of the box in which each quirky pageant is enacted furthers the theatrical presence. The ultra-blue color defines the plan of activity for the housed silver shape(s), besides accenting the powerful formal abstract elements found throughout these private visual diaries.
Unlike the sinister farce which prevails in much of contemporary art, a childlike innocence is felt in this compelling and original body of work. This characteristic should not be faulted or mistaken for simple art, for here is an art which evinces a high-degree of intelligence and sophistication, a paradoxical quality. Tanquerel opts to celebrate human relationships and relevance of small intimate encounters instead of focusing on mass society with its psychological isolation and its complex political, economical and architectural structures. His imagination seeks positive answers at a time when man’s tragic predicament is explicitly spot-lighted.

Dr. Elaine A. King
Director, Camegie Mellon Art Gallery
February 1989

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