John Gerard, an American artist and papermaker, has been working in the paper medium for over 25 years. Gerard’s dominant theme for his work is “paper as image.” His images and hand-made books are variations of the many sided possibilities of artistic expression within the medium of paper. The multitudes of thicknesses, inner structures, surfaces, its ability to assume subtle color nuances, as well as the unmistakable tactile qualities are integral parts of his work.
Gerard made in 1977 the first of his textural collages, essentially drawing with paper instead of on it. By 1979, he began making his own paper. Since then it has become his passion. Gerard opened his own experimental paper workshop for handmade paper in 1985 in Berlin, Germany, producing the basis for his own as well as collaborative works. He now lives and works in Rheinbach, Germany, about 50km south of Cologne.
In 1987 Gerard made his first artist’s book. Since then, over 70 hand made books have been produced. Gerard has exhibited his works widely, in Europe , Asia and the United States. His works are included in many important public and private collections, such as the New York Public Library, Bibliotheque nationale de France, Paris, Die Deutsche Bibliothek, Frankfurt, Germany , and the Germanisches National Museum, Nuremburg, Germany. A major retrospective of his work was shown at the Herzog-August-Bibliothek, Wolfenbuettel, Germany in 2001.
The artists books demonstrate Gerard’s attention to detail and the craft of fine bookmaking. Using handmade paper, the hand printed books use the poetry of contemporary as well as classical authors. Edition sizes vary between 10 and 40 unique copies. While most of these books are in the German language, Gerard has printed several texts in English; a recent work is “Colours of the Spirit” using 16 selected sonnets by William Shakespeare..
Gerard uses the technique of paper painting. Wet, colored paper-pulp is poured onto the freshly made sheet of paper, pressed and left to dry.
For many years, the element of water was one of the main thematic images in his work. He states, “I was fascinated with water’s movement, waves, the mythological Charybdis, the whirlpool. The cyclone is the direct result of drawing parallels with aqueous currents. My interest in the element of wind, its energy and destruction, has grown directly with my interest in the forces of nature. Cyclone is a dance of the wind. The choreography contains all of the components of destructive forces, of speed, of chaos.”
Dr. Dorothea Eimert, Director of the Leopold Hoesch Museum in Dueren Germany, writes:
“John Gerard is both a systematic thinker and romanticist.. His images are based on solid research and skilled knowledge in the new medium of paper. His collages play through the many possibilities of the systematics of square and line. They lead finally to vibrant impressions of landscape. The line becomes a poetically filled expression of the spontaneous act of movement. “
© John Gerard