Born 1981 in France, Baptiste Tavernier pursues a creative path that has led from experimental music through the ancient martial arts of Japan to the painter’s canvas. Trace Tavernier’s polymath oeuvre and you find three stars guiding him: intense concern with pattern and logic; relentless focus on the discipline of craft; and creative inspiration without horizons. On canvas, these three elements now fuse to reveal a unique and rigorously observed perspective, elegantly rendered with impeccable craft: mathematically precise mazes that decode in abstraction the form of the world’s great cities. It is the culmination of a journey that began early in the millennium at Paris University with studies in digital arts and musical composition, influenced by experimental music pioneers like Gerard Grisey, Salvatore Sciarrino and Steve Reich.
For Baptiste Tavernier, one particular fascination is perspective that, not so long ago, we could only perceive by means of applied abstraction: the straight-down, eagle’s-eye view of our habitat. The result was immediately familiar and significant, but until man mastered flight and photography it took a lot of applied mathematics to make an accurate map. Today, of course, with tools like GoogleEarth and Apple Maps that give us satellite images at will, the perspective is no longer an abstraction, it’s photographic. But his fascination with the applied skills of abstraction required by cartography endures nonetheless. And in his work it meshes with another fascination since childhood: labyrinths and mazes – which by definition must have a certain logic, a solution.
So the starting point for his current work is that abstract perspective, the view from on high that was beyond the reach of landscape painters through the ages. Looking down at the world’s great cities, Baptiste Tavernier remains intrigued by the logic of land and water and the maze-like patterns of human settlement. But going beyond simple cartography, he devises mazes suggested by what he sees and invert color schemes in order to force the eye to look in fresh ways at familiar patterns.
His recent work has focused on the topography of coastal cities, some real, such as Tokyo, Venice, and New York, and some imagined, but all defined by their relationship with water, the fluid border along which they grow. This representative relationship between solid and fluid, between permanence and impermanence, is an undercurrent that flows through his recent artistic efforts. Although built to last, cities are always in flux and subject to both planned change and unplanned environmental catastrophe. Baptiste Tavernier's goal is to document this meeting point between raw geography and human habitat, to portray on canvas the nexus where the two interplay: the city.