Art Work of the Month January 2010

Andreas Jaeggi / Before Birth

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The Theme of Birth Seen from a Somewhat Different Angle

Andreas Jaeggi has been invited to be an Artist-in-Residence at the Museum of Natural History in Le Havre, France in order to execute a series of seventeen paintings and four drawings about the subject of pre-natal echographical represenations of the human being. These paintings in oil and acrylic on canvas and color pencil drawings on paper are part of Alain Germain's exhibition "Before Birth, 5000 Years of Images" at the Museum (Cedric Cremiere, director and Jean-Louis Fischer, curator). The art work is inspired by documents produced by the latest technology of three dimensional pictorial renditions by Dr. Jean-Marc Levaillant, using the newest Echograph 3D scanner by GE Healthcare which is also being shown and demonstrated during this exhibition. The presented objects include, among many others, an Ancient Egyptian mummified fetus in a painted sarcophagus as well as small life size wax models from the 19th century.

Alain Germain: "I have asked Andreas Jaeggi to execute a series of oil paintings on canvas, inspired by echographical images of fetuses. These pre-natal portraits facilitate the opening of new perspectives, offering an artist's view from a certain distance. This different form of representation has been selected especially for the occasion of this exhibition.

Choosing Andreas Jaeggi to produce this gallery of portraits is anything but a coincidence: I have often asked him to participate in the performances and exhibitions of Compagnie Alain Germain, this artistic collaboration existing now for many long years. I knew he had the perfect profile to bring this mission to life, this difficult task which I entrusted to him. As a matter of fact, who better than Andreas Jaeggi could be intergrated into our project? He, the opera singer, whose body is the instrument itself: vocal cords vibrating within a resonance box. He, who produces a sophisticated sound which nevertheless is comparable to the primal scream of the new born, the original source of words and music. He, the traveling painter, who came himself to Le Havre, the port town par excellence, to put on the spot brush stroke to canvas for this pictorial ensemble. He, the figurative portraitist, whose work shown here has a chance to survive video and DVD, both fagile technical means which pose great problems of conservation. Therefore, in order to counteract the disappearing of memories, Andreas Jaeggi's painted work lays witness to safeguarding the uncertainty of virtual reality. His work is based on formal criteria and rooted within the inner feelings of the models in gestation. In his work, lines and colors visually translate the essentials of these human beings which do not exist completely as they have not yet come into this world. It is a subject so delicate to treat that it needed the science of an artist who is capable of understanding the daring of such an undertaking, going beyond the pictorial representation.

What a strange reality these figures are, caught in stop-action frame in their formation, at an exact moment in time where creation and medical science meet. These figures seem to tell us that all is in perpetual movement. They are interrogating us and at the same time opening towards a future that has captured its origins in the past while archiving and transmitting time fragments of the present."