Henri Barande - The Work Beyond Book Review


Henri Barande: The Work Beyond*

I have been so excited to share this book with you all since I got it.  You know when you read something and it blows your mind and you can't wait to tell everyone about it, well this is what happened to me when I got this book and found out the story behind it all.

Ok, so to fill you in if you haven't heard the story before...Henri Barande is a French artist.  He doesn't sign, date or show his work.  He actually has even destroyed a lot of it before and is continuing to do so but he has decided to do a one off show, his only one.  He will have an exhibition tomorrow at the Saatchi Gallery in London for his work.. 

I love art but I feel like for the first time in a really long time, reading Henri's story and hearing his view on the world and his art, I felt really connected to an artist and his work again.  I often feel like there is such a pretentious heavy air surrounding certain artists about their work and how they talk about it and with Henri it couldn't be more different.  He makes art for himself as he loves doing it and feels its a way of him to communicate and express himself and I think that is such a beautiful thing.  His story really is so remarkable and interesting and would urge you to give it a read as it's so unique.

His art is stunning, I've picked out a few of my favourite pieces from the book to photograph and it would be such a dream to see them in real life considering that its not going to happen here again, so if you can, I would head to the gallery to try and view the exhibition.  This book is just beautiful, honestly I feel that is truly the only way to describe it.  It's filled with the most amazing images of Henri's art and some wonderful long interviews with him too and his whole background story. It's such a rare insight into his world.

This book is probably one of the most special books I now own.  I feel like to do the story behind the book justice I had to speak to someone involved in creating it, so I was lucky enough to talk with Christoph Stolberg.  He is the Creative director of the German design firm Schultzschult who was commissioned by the publishers to come up with a design concept for the book.  I loved hearing about the story and inspiration from Christoph and I hope you enjoy the interview too...

1.  This must have been such an exciting project, how did you get involved in it?
-Yes it really was an interesting project indeed. I had no idea what I got myself into when I agreed to it. Edward  Booth-Clibborn asked me if I was interested and it had been a while since we did the last book. I was happy he asked me to work with him again. Edward told me it will be a special one. He pointed out the artist is French and that it could be a good match for me. My wife and daughter are French and were living in Paris.
The artists work surprised me. The image combinations were visually strong and graphic. I liked the first impression I got. 

2.  The book cover is so unique, can you tell us a little bit about the concept and how you came up with the idea for it?
-After having met the artist at his studio in Lausanne I was excited about his work. Barande has a specific hanging technique which combines various paintings touching one another. They are big collages each painting being 2.15 high with varying widths. 
It was clear to me that something special had to be created and that I needed to come up with a form of identity for Henri which would deliver a stand out, equally refer back to his work and his personality. Then there was the book which needed structure but the artist does not date or number his work, nor does he sign it. It meant there would be no captions, no chronologic order to his work. It needed to be a special book. 
I visited friends Schultzschultz because I knew they designed fonts for many of their projects and discussed the project with them. During one evening we
came up with lots of ideas. We began to collaborate. Now as a team we found that using only a single painting as a cover illustration would misrepresent Barande’s aesthetic. An algorithm was created enabling a series of images to be randomly combined, one after another, to complement the artist’s own technique of presentation. 8500 cover combinations were produced then hand selected by Stolberg during press passing the book in Italy. A customized font was designed, which features distinct cuts that create a greater sharpness when viewed from a distance. This concept, too, was inspired by Barande’s work, which plays with resolution and distance to the canvas to create a dynamic experience for the viewer.

3.  Do you have a favourite print that has been used on the book covers?
-There are a number of paintings I like (they are very impressive in real), When I hand picked the covers I found many. I photographed them to memorise them, but I could not say which one is my favourite. I am affected by the process and see the work in successful juxtapositions, curious which others would make up a good match. Sadly the books will never be on display together. 

4.  Henri’s art is so powerful yet subtle in ways too, what is it about his work that you enjoy most?
-Henri is a collector. As a boy he grew up around ancient tombs. I believe it made him to become a collector. His paintings are his collection of impressions and stories, his means of imagination. His work is playful, constantly evolving, rich on stories and memories. It touches me.

5.  Henri is notoriously reclusive not even selling his art at the upcoming exhibit he is having in London so this book really is a way of being able to get something very rare.  Is that why you wanted to make it such a special edition?  A one of a kind experience, just like his art?
-Yes that really makes sense. I think the book needed to have a twist and originality. The hanging technique of Henri and his ongoing quest to combine them, creating new meanings needed to be manifested. We achieved this and I am happy an original book can be provided for every one.   

You can buy the book on Amazon and find out more information about his gallery show HERE