Joseph Bernard

Posting #4

Posted on February 10, 2015

A group of paired (but otherwise unrelated) drawings from several of my sketchbooks in the 1970’s have been added to the ‘Mixed Images’ category.




These diary-like, 11” x 14” mixed media images, presented somewhat randomly, in non-chronological order are evidence of both a compulsive need to record interior & exterior stimuli and the personal credo that ‘drawing is the making of marks’. 

When marks are set down in imitation of something else, or when one unthinkingly drags muddy boots across a floor or even breathes hoarfrost patterns onto a winter window pane, drawings have been made. The signing of a check, the track of a surgeon’s scalpel, the vapor trail of an overhead jet, the pattern of prints through snow are all examples of (perhaps unconscious) mark making that should broadly be regarded as drawing.

Obviously, arranging cut pieces of paper (or any material) onto another surface of paper (or on any surface), is collage or assemblage — but in fact it’s still a variant of drawing. The origin of “photo+graphy” is to write with light. So then, the making of marks, with anything on anything, intentionally or unintentionally, provides an encompassing definition of drawing.


Posting #1; An Introduction

Posted on July 07, 2014

Resized_blog_image_copyPhoto: Jonathan Rajewski


This initial blog post is to welcome you to my website and to relay the purpose behind it. 

[To sift remnants of a life... to gather ‘driftings’ and make them stable, clear.]


The idea of designing a repository of personal images appealed to me. I had produced a good number of pictures and objects throughout my life, many of them with no documentation; some lost through unrecorded donations, sales and gifts or destroyed either by my hand (to ease in relocating) or by basement studio flooding.    

Then too, for years I produced paintings and bodyprints directly on sheet glass. They were heavy, fragile, highly impractical to ship. Lots of them were fatally damaged along the way. I’ve not been a diligent caretaker of past efforts, but then this “archive” may provide witness to that porous history.

Unfortunately, there are bodies of work that can’t be included because they were never documented or retained; (small sculpture, early paintings, all darkroom work, most graphic prints and drawings), or only sparsely so, like the paintings on glass and bodyprints. Some drawings and works on glass will be added eventually, if possible.

This is the beginning of a large project. So many more old 35mm slides have been scanned, which then have to be digitally formatted, categorized, resized and labeled. So much other work has yet to be photographed. The ongoing documentation process, and all that lies ahead, is quite daunting. Now, as archivist, I’m obliged to attempt cataloging the impossible, or at least make gestures in that direction. At present, that’s the plan.  

The following remnants are evidence of activities that, in fact, provided me an identity.

Paintings - But for a few early examples, these are all acrylic on wood (OSB) panel constructed to float 3/4” from the wall. Most have collage elements included. I hand-built the panels and the backs were treated to the same layers of paint and topcoat as the facing surfaces. This format and practice began when I was an undergraduate and continued until 2010, at which point I quit all painting and gallery involvements. (Note: Apologies for the quality level of early work reproductions; they obviously predate digital clarity.)  

Films - Dating from 1976-1985, these were all Super 8, silent, usually with a great deal of editing. They still occasionally get screenings, the most recent was a program in this year’s 52nd Ann Arbor Film Festival. Also this year, 40 of them were accepted into The Academy Film Archive in Hollywood, California for safekeeping and study. In the near future, this very same group of films will be released in a DVD format boxed set titled, Prismatic Music  The Super 8 Films of Joseph Bernard.  

Film Stills - Like selected words pulled from a poem, these single frames offer no (or very little) sense of the whole, yet may resonate with a projected 24th of a second DNA from that entity. Passing quickly from one to another, somewhat like flipping through random slides on a carousal projector, (which, of course, no one does anymore), these images become ‘un-possessed’; they provide a revised context, an incongruity in search of meaning, not unlike the thought process itself. This may have some indicators of my past filmmaking practices. 

Photographs - Another personal pursuit that began long ago and went through several permutations; prints, slides, sandwiched slides, photographic decals and collages. I now  continue to photograph only digitally. Unencumbered by justification, a few subcategories are included on the site and are broadly labeled by location only, without titles, sizes or dates.

I think art comes from the same place as any real discoveries; informed intuition,  without conscious introspection - - at least during the making. Now, much after the fact, this retrospective view allows for a clearer assessment of overlapping activities and their commingled relationships. It can bring order to what’s been achieved, also suggesting where it may lead. After decades of studio solitude, a public unveiling certainly has its anxieties. But then any self-portrait, any personal overview, any regathering of both additions and deletions inevitably gives shape to one’s life map, as it should. I intend to keep changing this website and, as it evolves, certainly welcome your feedback. 


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