‘The Seasons’ (1984-91) by Jasper Johns on display currently at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London as part of the group exhibition ‘There Not There’, curated by students of The Courtauld Institute’s MA ‘Curating the Art Museum’ programme, which runs until July 15th.
“Made more than a decade later, Jasper Johns' The Seasons (1985) articulates a similar concern with the bodily and the temporal. In each print of the series we find, quite literally, the shadow of the artist's presence: the silhouettes that populate the compositions were traced from the outline of the artist's body. The shadows vary in shade, appear and disappear in a staccato rhythm, now obscured by the rain and snow, now pushed to the edges by an eclectic swarm of objects, memories and motifs that recur in the artist's work over time. Here, excess is a form of erasure. Or, to borrow Johns' term for the erased de Kooning drawing, The Seasons operate as 'additive subtraction:
Johns not only inscribes his shadow onto the prints, he also imbues them with gestural marks that reveal the physical process of printmaking: going back and forth, adding and subtracting, layering. This cyclical gesture is echoed by The Seasons themselves: the series starts with Summer and ends in Spring, symbolizing regeneration. Drifting through space and time, drenched in rain, sunlight and snow, appearing and disappearing, the artist's shadow invites us to join him along the way.” - Beatriz García-Velasco Bernal, There Not There