HOME for Guvder – Still Artistically Fresh Nearing 100

HOME for Guvder – Still Artistically Fresh Nearing 100

After studying in France and Italy, Guvder came back HOME to transmit his passion to a new generation of painters and sculptors.

When we consider the works of Jean Guvdérelian, best known by his pseudonym Guvder, we wonder if from now on, we are not condemned to be but amazed in front of this great, gross and anti-academic body of work: the fruit of such alive and timeless art. Perhaps the endless work of Guvder, should be considered as a human artistic reference, made superhuman by his incomparable contribution in quality and quantity? Like his many exhibitions and hisl ong teaching career, we are still constrained to assess and evaluate his income since the whole creation is neither dated nor identified or even classified. Is it a will or negligence? For Guvder, as transposed from Dubuffet: “if all he has achieved is called art, his best moments are when he forgot what it’s called”.  Starting with or without historical references, his tireless desire to break with the academic tradition has often led him to an interest in nature. For him, nature provides fertile material for his explorations, drawings and montages. Guvder does not find himself constrained by the four seasons of nature. He once said to me: “Every morning is a new season for me, a new era”.

With a lavish indifference, the periods of his creative work multiply, diverge and intersect. They don’t let themselves be bound by a stereotypical type nor by a constant style. Drawing a line between these multiple periods is impossible. Details show that Guvder often works simultaneously on various themes, as he often takes a theme, reworks it several times, right after exploration.

As he has repeated to me, “thinking in art is a vast field of investigation for which many media are possible, opening on multiple courses”. It didn’t matter whether it was understood or not. He supports his argument with Montaigne’s quote that has always been hung somewhere in his studio on the third  floor of the Académie Libanaise des Beaux-Arts (ALBA): “it’s always permitted to never understand anything of nothing.”

During his life, Guvder’s creations were plentiful and extremely varied. At the venerable age of 98, he easily produces 10 to 40 designs per day; a family of drawings that has resemblance without being identical.Tons of sculptures; a century of architecture. Never classical nor contemporary, he prefers the term “timeless” in describing his work.

The reference to nature, especially trees, enters very early in his graphic work. Having started with extremely varied studies around the olive, this exploration has taken on another dimension after exploring the drawings of Rembrandt. In fact, none of the landscapes drawn by the latter has escaped, at least a dozen times, the reed pen of Guvder. Some were done in gouache, others in watercolor and reed; and number in the thousands. Moreover, artistic studies on plants and many other flora elements are also part of Guvder’s artistic experimentation; an experiment that feeds his sculptural work, graphic design and painting. Two working principles stand out: one that follows an intuitive approach working through breaks, extended lines and stiff shots to generate a motion in static image, another based on a regulatory path that directs and manages the proportions of the drawing. A fairly systematic route, to which Guvder sometimes seems to be unfaithful.

Apart from the elements brought from nature, the empathy with Rembrandt is supreme. The influence of this great artist on Guvder is read on the personal level more than the artistic one. I even dare to say a spirital kinship. Guvder analyzed the complete works of this artist for over 50 years, creating a detailed biography, criticisms, drawings and paintings. Every Rembrandt sketch, at least those of his complete works of drawing, was visited  at least a dozen times by the reed pen of Guvder. It should be recalled that an exhibition in homage to Rembrandt was mounted by Guvder in 1997. The main subject was about maternity. The mother, idealized, has a sleeping child, in agitation or revolt. The seemingly chaotic lines in other subjects prove to be clearly defined when it comes to maternity.

The energy Guvder puts into exploring human figures and their posture is unparalleled. What is striking about this; it is not only the abundance of studies. We’re talking about thousands of studies on this topic  and only a few hundred for each subject.

A preliminary calculation of the past four deacades, he has approximately more than three hundred thousand human figures.

Nearly 100 years old, there is no last word about Guvder; but “in the process”.

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