Jochen Gerner was born in 1970, which is an extremely good year to be born in. (Believe me, I should know.) He studied at the Nancy National School of Fine Arts (France), but says he owns much of his drawing style and approach to the teachings he received from his own father, who was a drawing an art history teacher.
The first things I saw from Gerner were his comics in the magazine “Lapin” published by L’association and his solo book “Courts-Circuits Géographiques” (also L’association), a collection of travel stories. In fact almost all of his work, except when collaborating with a writer, stays away from fiction, and ranges from documentary and autobiography to highly experimental strangeness. Examples of this last category can be found in the work he did for OuBaPo (Ouvroir de Bande Dessinnée Potentielle) which was created after the OuLiPo (Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle), a loose collective of writers (founding fathers Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais, but also Georges Perec and Italo Calvino (to name but a few) who experimented with creating works of literature starting from a strict set of rules or limitations. Perec, for instance, wrote a complete book without ever using the letter e and another where the e was the only vowel he used. The OuBaPo-people operate in much the same way, setting up limitations and restrictions in advance to create comics. (More on OuBapo can be found here.) One of the most OuBaPoian efforts of Jochen Gerner is the book “TNT en Amérique” where he worked directly on the pages from old copies of the album “Tintin en Amérique” by Hergé, blacking out almost everything with black ink, leaving nothing but some of the initial text and structure and recreating with his own pictures a new story, an extreme and violent vision on the United States of America.
Except for comics, Gerner also made numerous children’s books (most often in collaboration with a writer) and works on editorial illustrations for magazines and newspapers (Libération, Le Monde, The New York Times,…),books and posters. His most personal work can be found either in the sketchbooks he publishes or the work presented in the many group- or solo exhibitions he participates in.
More Jochen Gerner? Visit his site.