The American artist Jeffrey Blondes, who has been living in France for over 20 years, has devoted his career to the patient and intense examination of nature in minute detail. With a conscientious eye more reminiscent of a still-life painter than a landscape artist, he strives to transpose as sincerely as possible the landscape he sees around him by using the traditional techniques of drawing, watercolour and oil painting, as well as the more modern-day method of video.
There is something almost monastic about Blondes’ desire to rethink the same subject countless times, like an oft-repeated prayer or a litany, in which the believer seeks to discover something new every time.
His video installation on display at Chaumont-sur-Loire comprises four “photographic film-winders”, each of which projects an image resulting from one complete year of filming. Each screen shows a continuous film composed of fifty-two one-hour sequences, filmed from the same viewpoint over the fifty-two weeks of the year, according to a composition that is strictly identical. This extremely poetic piece of work prompts visitors to contemplate and throws our relationship with time into disarray, playing with duration, the slow ticking-by of the hours and the changing light of each day and the seasons.
Jeffrey Blondes has a fruitful career as a photographer and painter behind him, with over 35 personal exhibitions in galleries all over the world – but the past eight years have been given over to the creation of 24- and 52-hour-long videos in high definition. These videos take an approach that anyone familiar with the rest of his work will recognise: observing, waiting and recording the subtleties of nature.
He has always been concerned with studying the intersection of the landscape and everything that the French word “temps” encompasses: time, climate, seasons, their rhythm and their cycle.
Jeffrey Blondes’ “temps” allows the patient observer to progress to a level where he or she begins to see and feel the time go by, and perceive the rotation of the Earth. In this state of contemplation, the onlooker can become one with the sparse elements of the countryside and feel a sense of “timelessness” that he or she is unable to experience in the frenetic world of urban life.
Working in direct contact with nature, Blondes makes the onlooker privy to the experience of actually being there. Always done outdoors, from life, his work is seldom reworked, presenting us with the recording of authentic events … live.