First published: Summer 2015
Leonardo Da Vinci’s motto, nulla die sine linea [no day without a line] is also Gerard Sendrey’s motto. Born in 1928 in Bordeaux, France, Sendrey strived to express himself creatively from early childhood. He worked as a city clerk, and from his 39th year onwards spent all of his free time drawing and painting. The oeuvre he has now produced is prolific and multifaceted, and its absolute self-reliance bears testimony to a free and creative spirit.
At first, Sendrey’s unconditional need to create served to calm him; it contained him, made him feel safe and let his existence appear meaningful. The creative process lifted his spirits. Today, he takes great pleasure in drawing and painting. He enjoys the feeling of getting in touch with his interior “unknown”, engaging with it and bringing it forth in his own highly personal way. Sendrey’s preferred method of expression is drawing: impulsively, with his eyes open or shut, he uses his right or left hand to make marks in a simplistic manner, and he surprises himself with the result of his spontaneity and the shapes that emerge. He uses various materials, such as chalk, Indian ink, coloured pencils, Rotring pens and pencils, Calame bamboo reed pens and Posca water-based paint markers. When using Indian ink, he sometimes likes to apply it with his fingers or hands.
The Non-formation of the World, 2002, Indian ink, 16.5 x 11.7 ins., 42 x 29.6 cm
Spontaneous creativity is vital to Sendrey, thus he loves graphic arts, especially black-and-white drawings, which are producible within minutes. Painting fascinates him, but it requires more time and materials, unless one squeezes the paint from the paint tube directly onto one’s fingers. So that is what Gerard Sendrey often does when a subject begs to be expressed swiftly in colour.
Sendrey’s oeuvre is multifaceted, playing with lines, shapes and figures, and branching out into different series derived from his observations in daily life. They suddenly emerge; impressions and experiences stick in his mind and get recorded. According to him, he draws his inspiration not from the intellectual, but from things that appear unexpected in front of his eyes and ideas that suddenly pop into his head. He regards himself as a channelling-tool, guided by life. For example, playing with his dog he might throw a ball, then look up at the sky and see human figures made up of clouds of various shapes. His dog wants to play on, but Sendrey cannot turn away; he needs to memorise what he sees in the clouds because he knows that in a few seconds everything will be different. That is what fascinates him: to capture a specific moment in time and then possibly evolve it into a new series – an opportunity that Sendrey, fondly attentive, grasps every time.