Bernard Aubertin


[...] The harmony of the world is the result of a constant tension between opposite principles, and to represent it, Aubertin chooses fire as the most essential element, embodying all the strength of the eternal conflict between the concrete and the elusive, between salvation and risk, but especially between life and death, because fire creates and destroys. Fire interferes with its own being into the being of the object,  melting and transforming its color and shape. The flame can recreate, can give a new life to everything: the artist focuses on the generating action  of this new being of the object. Aubertin shows up the power of a demiurgic fire.
In tune with Yves Klein artistic conception, Aubertin defines himself a realist: a programmatic statement meaning that the artist must shift away from subjectivity, to leave space to something more true and effective than his own person, that is to the Real itself.  Namely, one must burn the personification of the individual artistic sensibility in favor of objective art. The artist that burns a book gets on a particular significance of regeneration  of forms that all of at once gets the awareness of being existence. The artist is a demiurge that controls and  manipulates a powerful energy. [...]

Michela Danzi

[Catalogo "Bernard Aubertin: L'Art Brûlée"]

[...] Aubertin started from an interest in fire,  the basic element of life and of primeval energy, not only at a metaphorical level (with his red monochromes, and other fire colors, the yellow and the orange of flames, the brown and the gray of ashes), but also at a metonymic level (artworks realized with firescreen, matches, ashes and so on) and finally in a very explicit way, introducing the performing action of the very object of his research, the fire, as the live and enlivening element that the artist lights before an audience, like a modern wizard, (but in an almost secret, intimate way, without any emphatic spectacular research). "Even when I put on work my fire machines in public," Aubertin said during an interview, "I'm never emphatic. Like Klein, I believe in void and in silence, above all in silence". His first interest is fire, and that is a choice of absolute radicality, it is the will to go beyond the hollow noisy chattering of  today avant-garde art,  to the very heart, to the core of energy, beyond the matter, to the energy which is at the very beginning of our life. Because flame is the element that gives, or better gives again, life to the inanimate matter. And it is the fundamental element of the most ancient practice of "awakening" latent energies of man and matter that the philosopher and theologian Henry Corbin, at the beginning of the past century, called "the physics of resurrection", namely alchemy. [...]

Alessandro Riva

[Catalogo "Bernard Aubertin: L'Art Brûlée"]

[...] Among the series of objects Aubertin burnt, there were also books. The first volume to be burnt by the artist, was a novel by the French writer Jules Verne. Later, among his Livres brûlés we’ll find literary works that had a peculiar influence on Western history and culture, such as the Manifesto of the Communist Party, the Little Red Book, the Bible, Mein Kampf, as well as many essays and art catalogues. In 1968 the project developed into Livres brûlés et à brûler, where Aubertin put among the pages matches, sticks of fulminate, sachets of smoke generating powder, elements that contribute to the combustion of the object, affecting its intensity and lasting time. The artist starts the creative process, but wants to play a minor part and to become a passive beholder of the action taking place, to the point of delegating to the audience the task to have an active action, as declared on the title page of some books. “The spectator/participant is invited to read the book, to continue burning its pages by igniting the matches, to add more matches and to reduce everything to ashes.” [...] His burnt pages are not a symbol of destruction, of negation, but even after the combustion Process, they continue to make the work alive, as charred paper undergoes continuous alterations. The fire of Aubertin affects the book as reading, which wears out and deteriorates the object, but at the same lengthens its life, because part of its content is absorbed by the memory of the reader.

Melania Gazzotti

[Catalogo "Bernard Aubertin: L'Art Brûlée"]

Bernard Aubertin, among the founders of Zero Group, during his artistic research has made own the immateriality of the matter, of fire and of silence. His artworks will be present at's showroom in Verona with the exhibition called "Energia Rosso Fuoco": works of the 70s, 80s and 90s - Semema, Monorosso, Dessin de feu and Monochromo.Bernard Aubertin (Fontenay-aux-Roses, 1934), among the founders of ZeroGroup (Düsseldorf, 1958), during his artistic research has made own the immateriality of the matter, of fire and of silence. His accession to Zero Group in 1961 comes from the encounter with YvesKlein (1957), this brings him to absorb all the fundamental values of the movement: the zero as “zero” point of orientation, the art and the technique, the movement and the light, the void and the silence, everyelement as long as natural.Started from a research about colour, in particular about red, in 1958 there were the red Monochromes, and about materials, nails, wooden boards nd iron grates, as well as about noise, in 1959 there were the artwork of the “Valanga” series, afterwards he dedicate to blacks, to greys andto oranges, as colours, and to fire of the matches and to aluminium, as materials, during the years 1988-90 there were the artworks of the “Parpaing” series, a sought synthesis of essential elements.Often accused, incoherently, to be an “artist of geometry”, he reinforces his interest for the metamorphosis not only of the materials, but also of the instruments and shapes, through the work of an only strong element: the fire. From this metamorphosis is born the artistic form searched and wanted by Aubertin. The transformation is not only captured in the final act - the artwork - , but it’s documented in all its phases through photos of the performance. Thanks to it materialize the real combustion process, while with the red colour, synthesis of fire, it’s sublimate. His artworks are dense of strenght and of matter and continue to interrogate something that goes beyond the simple description of the reality and describe, through the fire, the disappearance of a shape into another, almost it would be a chain of actions that change and move themselves toward the other. In a continuous attempt of visualization of energy, his “paintings-matches” so represent the crystallize of the fire element in an endless silence. Energy red fire it’s not that the action of an event on a modified content. The exhibition and the catalogue, aim to present not only a rich chronology of artworks (from the first Dessin de Feu and Parcours d’allumettes to the Monochromes and the Monored, till to arrive at the most recent Semema), but they highlight some of the key elements of theartistic way of the french master. Unavoidable, in this sense, is to think again about the matches of the Dessin de feu (years ‘70-’80), as materials that generate the incandescence captured by the iridescent colour of Semema(years ‘90). So Aubertin is arrive to return, through the completeness of the artwork, the strength that is inside the performative event, that brings again into play shape and colour.

Marika Vicari e Alice Zamberlan