Friday, June 3, 2022

Bernard Villers, Le Nouveau Remorqueur & Bruno Robbe Editions, Brussels, 2016-2012

This post features seven accordion works by this Belgian artist who was born in 1939 and currently lives & works in Brussels. Trained as a painter at the L'Ecole national superieure des arts visuels de La Cambre (Le Cambre) he developed a painting practice that took the medium itself as the subject of his paintings, and he subsequently started examining the relationship between painting and its support structure, as well as color. Indeed, color would become the central feature in his painterly research, and in due course extended to his sculptural and bookmaking activities.

In 1976 he turned his attention to publishing his own works via three successive publishing houses, Le Remorqueur (The Tugboat): 1976-2003, Le Nouveaux Remorqueur: 2002-2015, and Le Dernier Remorqueur: 2016 onwards. With the exception of Leporello, published by Bruno Robbe Editions,1990, all the other works featured here were published under Villers' own imprint.

When asked about the relationship between his artists' books and his paintings he replied that they were "...a way of painting, an extension of my painting." And when he introduced a fold into his monochrome works he realized that the "...fold gives the monochrome different aspects...", and further that "You fold a sheet of paper, the idea of a book is born, that's where it starts," concluding, "So the fold is very important to me."

As can be seen in the works accompanying this post, the 'fold' is essential to his experimentation with his books and paper works, and it's evident that his previous mode of pictorial research into the support structure of paintings has now been applied to the more than 150 folded books, accordions and assorted paper works he's published.

For further information about Villers I recommend the catalogue raisonne titled Bernard Villers: Les Editions du Nouveaux, Editions Sens, Rennes, 2016, in which can be found the following works featured here. Additionally there is an illuminating documentary (25 mins) created by Lionel Dutrieux in 2016 and available on youtube at: Bernard Villers, peintre et √©diteur - YouTube and his website; Research - Bernard Villers

                                  HAHOH, 2006, unlimited edition
           4 double-sided pages, individually 8.25" x 2.75" and fully opened 11"

This work is a palindrome (a word that reads the same either backwards or forward) that uses three of the eleven letters of the alphabet which have symmetrical vertical axis.

VA (Go), 2006, unlimited edition
           4 double-sided pages, individually 8.25" x 2.75" and fully opened 11"

By associating the folds of the paper with the symmetrical axes of these letters, the viewer can see through the work and view the two letters superimposed on each other reading VA and AV to which Villers has added two dots, that appear as four when viewed in this manner.  


Ose (Dare), 2010, unlimited edition
4 double-sided pages, individually 6" x 4", and when fully open 16"

A play on the well known phrase by Gertrude Stein from 1913. Three components make up this work, with a play on the French words 'ose' (dare), 'rose' (pink) and 'roser' (rose). 

Leporello, 2009, Bruno Robbe Editions, Belgium, ed. 150
16 double-sided pages, individually 4.25" x 2.5", and when opened 3ft 6"

A leporello that has a continuous line of text running the length of the back and the front of the work. The text is from Mozart's opera Don Giovanni and is part of the text that his manservant Leporello (for whom this folded format is named) reads from a folded (accordion?) list of all the names of his masters conquests. 

√† suivre (to be continued), 2012, unlimited edition 

6 double-sided pages, individually 5.75" x 2.5" and when fully open 1ft 3"

A completely abstract accordion that is bound in its center to its covers, so that both sides open out into the one work. The dots are 'ellipses', and are used to indicate that something has been left out, and coupled with the title of this work suggests something is to be continued also.

to be continued, 2012, unlimited edition
6 double-sided pages, individually 5.75" x 2.5" and when fully open 1ft 3"

Villers writes about his work that " plays on the deformation of the patterns printed on the folds of the paper. Here the leporello unfolds in six shutters. In the center of each of the five front and back folds is printed perpendicularly a black segment whose flatness is disturbed by the two flaps to form angles.

Remorqueur (Tugboat), 2012, unlimited edition
5 double-sided pages, each 5.75" x 3", fully open 1ft 3"

At the top of each page of this leporello are printed in capitals the ten letters of the name of his publishing imprint "remorqueur", with the word "remor" (remorse) on one side and "queur" (queer) on the other, additionally when seen from a slight angle the folds running down the middle of the circles create hearts.

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