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Christian Bernard Singer

Open, 2018 (from the “Scattered to Contained – A Dance” series)

Pine needles and mixed media on wood

17” x 11” x 5.5”

$5,000 CDN (Please inquire for shipping)

Open draws inspiration from the concept of nature unfolding its secrets like the pages of a book, inviting us to delve into its mysteries. Whether this book holds knowledge, enchantments, prayers, or forewarnings remains veiled, yet it harbours secrets that are worth mining for. The colour blue, reminiscent of the sky or the ocean, offers hints, but deciphering this enigmatic tome a learned person who can commune with nature in order to navigate its contents without succumbing to its subtle, needle-like traps.

In Singer’s work, pine needles are meticulously painted and affixed individually, breathing vitality back into their dead counterparts, evoking an eternal enigma, one that may never yield definitive answers but invites contemplation and immersion. ‘Being’ with nature leads to the potential for interconnection and healing. Those who approach this metaphorical book must possess fluency in the language of poetry and intuitive wisdom, understanding how to attune themselves with the life giver that sustains us all. It's a power inherent in each of us, though often forgotten, reminding us that a book need not be filled with words or images to impart wisdom or narrate a profound story.

This work is part of the Scattered to Contained: A Dance series, which was developed in response to how Climate Change is outrunning forests’ abilities to spread and regenerate. Increasing temperatures are leading to a surge in bark beetle populations, allowing them to breed twice in a season. This combined with hot, dry and windy conditions, which led to an unprecedented forest fire season in 2023, might be cyclically playing a role in exacerbating climate change by converting forests from carbon-absorbing sinks into sources of carbon emissions.

In the exhibition catalogue for Pins and Needles at the Headbones Gallery, artist Julie Oakes writes: "Nature outperforms man with her reputation for detailing, quantity and specificity. She displays her work at every turn of the path and it is there to be understood if the constant pull of distracting modernity was not also there to hinder perception. In nature, the individuality and uniqueness of each part is reinforced innumerably- each pine tree loaded with needles that do not remain static but are responsive to the changes of time and environment. It is such an overwhelming concept that it is too often taken for granted and passed by in naive security that nature's wonders will not disappear even if we fail to recognize her miraculous show of diversity. In nature, the pine beetle also changes the colour of the forest and when the rusty red dominates, it is a dire sign that the forest is dying. Yet in Christian Bernard Singer's latest pieces it is as if the forest clears and rejuvenates with the potential to grow once again. Singer has brought about a transformation with a heightened poignancy that is in tune with the finest aspect of man – his awareness of the 'other.' Singer's acknowledgment of simple pine needles, a tattered blanket upon the forest floor, enhances awareness. The re-alignment of his material (forest's shedding) matches the wonder of the natural world and then tops it up. The origin remains intact yet each needle is given a specific place and then dressed in a resonant primal tint. In Singer's work a stronger translation as ART begins cycles anew."

For the two-person exhibition "On the Eight Day" (with Julie Oakes) at the Lake Country Art Gallery, Curator Wanda Lock wrote in the exhibition catalogue: "Christian Bernard Singer gives us a story-board - snippets of the natural world, co-existing, smaller works filling the surrounding space visually but also with a whisper of weather, wind, nature, light, and colour. The outside brought inside." Ashley Johnson also writes in the catalogue: "Variations in the arrangement of needles evoke ideas of natural events like storms, winds and ripples. It is a way of abstracting nature and making powerful forces visible. Thus the red “Dervish' evokes a tornado, with its crescendo of power ripping at the natural world. Singer's manner of interacting with his chosen medium is almost biblical, reverentially kneeling in forests to select his needles. These are carefully assembled with rapt attention given to the personality of each needle. This intellectual introspection is finally expressed in emotional form as an idea. What was once detritus to be mulched into food for the forest has been born again into mental sustenance.”

Open was exhibited at Quest Art Gallery (Midland, ON), 2022; Lake Country Art Gallery (Lake Country, B.C.), 2020; Deep Water Gallery (Wiarton, ON), 2020; Akasha Art Projects (Toronto), 2019; and Headbones Gallery (Vernon), 2018.

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