The combination of outlines
Writing: A beautiful piece of writing leads to everything. Indecipherable: a sign of science. […]
Gustave Flaubert, Received Ideas Dictionary
Pierre Braun follows an inquisitive path, with steady and flowing ideas. Since the early 1980s, he combines into his work two independent “programs”: one in which technological development has made omnipresent, computing and numerical machines and, rooted into the legacy of art, one which includes drawing and graphic writing, but also painting. His series and sequences of work thus develop in a double understanding, defining a field of action that associates the artist and the researcher, nourishing each other. Both programs can be found according to one aspect: the outline. They are each worked on in their own way by the central question of representation and methods thereof, at an intersection and a formalism which lock the machine into itself, and the living. With Pierre Braun, it is not a question of an in-between position, but a singular attempt at conjunction.
On the one hand, twentieth century art fuelled the reduction of formality and ensured the strengthening of new visual economies: it is here in particular that we find the making of abstract filiation, passed by geometric and constructivist temptations. But the modern century also opened the door to action art: the Fluxus period remains at tipping point, which opens the material forms of work and their means, just as much as their challenges, focusing on the practical experience of the world.
On the other hand, at the risk of a virtual world, digital intelligence has transformed not only the access to knowledge but knowledge itself, by expanding skills and even making a requirement almost exclusively for the production of forms from now on.
If the spirit of the system is an engine of his work, Pierre Braun stands at its edge. Margins of control, often reducing his drawing (by hand as well as by machine) to an elementary graphical plot, or de-constructing vocabulary and painting materials (in the sequence Sample painting (1992-1999)). These margins, where the line is on familiar terms with writing and letters, cross with the mythical virtuosity of Apelle as Pline recounts, and the outlines of writing of an Artaud filling the page of a notebook with sticks, while maintaining the line as a sign of time, of life. However, Pierre Braun plays on the edge of being very basic, working on clumsiness, when it is programmed on a machine, while withdrawing from a hidden subjectivity. In this way he also touches upon writing, without letters, at the very edge of language.
Out-skirting still when he resorts to the machine, true once again to a form of archaism. Because without ignoring the latest technology, to a degree of complexity and out of proportion efficiency, he is attached to pioneering machines, those from the 70s that reveal more directly the challenges of their basic techniques, purely more procedural. This is what distinguishes many artists attached to digital technology, when maintaining an archaeological link to computers, as a critical operator resisting to new blindness.
By crossing sensitive figures and digital cultures in their initiatory forms, he creates a fragile piece of work, which reintroduces subjectivity by distance, without naive expressionism. Work which appeals to small mediums, silent, a piece of A4 paper, a common standard to use for writing, printing, and reading; or canvas, which carries this painting almost without matter which is the gouache is on; a painting, which knows how to immobilize the movement of time without slowing it down. Or even on the screen as a medium of trial writing in a perpetual motion. There are many ways to foil an image in favour of a dynamic moment.
All things considered, including the resumed logic which began in 2010, the work found its figure in its early stages, in 1982-1984, then again between 1992 and 2008, with the sine curve, this alternative active line produced with a tracer, rhythmic and conflicting, which allows to view a changing signal, fluctuating. Pierre Braun’s path tells us this: changes are not contradictory, they allow us to advance.