These two sets of images were printed simultaneously in the Spring of 2005.
The Cirque Érotic was conceived and designed during 2004, once the drawings were finished, the blocks were cut and proofed, at Atelier Circulaire in Montréal during November and December of 2004.
The second group, the Theatre images were designed one by one over a number of years. Each image represents a central idea of a Dragon Dance production. Many of them have been seen, on posters, and in advertisements used to publicize Dragon Dance events. However they have never been editioned before.
Thanks to Québec's system of accessible print shops these images reached the press for the first time. The entire set of 37 images was printed at Presse Papier in Trois-Rivières during six weeks of, March and April, 2005.
The two sets of prints have many elements in common. They are all on the same format, lino cuts, printed in black, with oil based ink, on white paper, or on colored Tatami paper which is then glued on the same white paper, a Somerset, acid free, satin, 100 % cotton, archival, printing paper.
All of the images are narrative and figurative and show their roots in the Expressionist tradition. Intensely composed, the lines are strong and feature a masterful juxtaposition of black and white. Kerson’s bold gestural and graphic vocabulary demands attention as cuts, dashes, dots, lines, scratches, slices, gouges, open fields, patterns, solid blacks and virgin whites are orchestrated to articulate the drama of the chosen scenes.
These works exhibit the artist's lengthy experience and profound understanding of composition. Kerson's handling of space, volume, perspective and the human figure is deft and original. The designs are playful, fanciful, imaginative and simultaneously forceful and articulate.
The images cast in rich black and luminously white, seem to speak in color and of color. Kerson uses rhythm, repetition, sequence, and opposition as if they were color. These images argue that black and white contain all colors. Perhaps if we squint, adjust the light, or spin the designs rapidly the colors will become apparent.
The images from the theatre revolve around Cosmologies from Meso-America. The Children are born into the world and after their struggles on earth they rise into the heavens to become the sun and the moon. This allegory, this metaphor of the Americas, mythology of the Americas, creates the setting for the stories of our time. The artist speaks of life and death. He repeats the story of the Cosmos. He shows us the iconography of the Cosmology of our continental traditions. These images are icons from the archeology of our civilization, which communicate and state a particular history we may not even be aware of. They re-tell a very old story. Our familiar world streaming through the cosmos, the cosmos, that embraces all we know. Cosmological tales from the theatre create a setting for the Cirque Érotique.
In this artfully created universe we see the world of our times as the Cirque Erotique, a circus based on eroticism and some of its pleasures and delights. We are reminded of Rabelais, of Alfred Jarry, of Bosch’s, Garden of Earthly Delights. The Cirque Érotique displays our sexuality as delightfully riotous images of impossible fantasies.
The Cirque is represented in twelve main acts. Most of these acts are known, in the erotic imagery of Europe and Asia. The Artist as impresario has re-combined famous acts from the past with some created in his own laboratory with a bit of, fantastique physiques. Swinging, exploding, balancing, leaping, in one precarious circus environment after another, the humans reveal their endless desire to achieve union with one another.
The artist beckons us to follow him back stage to encounter the musicians, prestidigitators, mountebanks, comedians, jongleur, contortionists and the intimate life in the companies’ private sphere.
We see in the Cirque a series of elements that clearly make a whole, compositions within a composition. We sense the rhythm of the dramatic sequence, a narrative, with central and secondary motifs. The circus imitates life, in it's complexity and in it's interdependency. The ringmaster, the audience, the performers, the high wire artists and the clowns, all rely on one another. Each experience happens in the realm of the other, each dramatic moment is a collaboration.
In the close up we again see the strong line, the rhythm, the rigorously, intelligent, creation of the image, laid out step-by-step and linked to every other image in the series. Close up, the performers echo our sexuality, our intimacy, our ways with one another, our creativity, our fecundity, our regenerative powers.
As we step back the observer sees the intimate gestures and phrases fall into the order of an act, or a theatrical representation, which in turn falls into the pattern of the Cirque in it's entirety, which then falls into a pattern of the larger universe of our mythic history, the cosmology of our continent. The mythical figure of the man being swallowed by the tiger, who represents the sun, resonates with the same intensity, with the same significance, as the image of the tight ropewalker dancing between the two erect penises.
Lights out, drum roll.........the show is about to begin!!