By Iris Liao, art curator
Baptiste Tavernier is a French artist who splits his time between Taiwan and Japan and has a keen interest in, and knowledge of, Asian cultures. Before coming to Taiwan, he lived for a decade in Japan, studying that country’s language and traditions. Both his selection of media and his artistic style are deeply influenced by Japanese techniques. His love of washi (Japanese paper) did not, however, keep him from creating recent works on thin Taiwanese rice paper using traditional ink and seals.
Tavernier is not only an accomplished painter, but also a composer of music and a teacher of Japanese martial arts. The impact of Eastern and Western culture is always present on his canvases, where the integration of several different ways of thinking, the interlacing of media, and the interplay between soul and muse come together to form complicated mazes, an artistic dance between France and Asia.
In Provence, where he grew up, it’s possible to lose oneself in the labyrinthine streets of old medieval villages. Those intricately patterned lanes form the basis for the way his mazes – which always have a solution – unfurl onto his canvases. Tavernier has made his way through most of the world’s biggest metropolises. He transposes his urban observations and experiences into city-mazes set into actual geographical lines to achieve works of near-cartographic precision.
Taiwan is a fertile, evergreen land, covered by countless varieties of plants. Yet Tavernier surprisingly chose to depict it as a desolate, barren island. A way of warning us, perhaps, to always be cautious and responsible, and to cherish and protect what we have. When arriving at a clear blue lake, you can taste the sweet water. There is nothing difficult in the world, so long as you are devoted to do it.
December 2016, Taipei