Produced by LEMAIRE, in homage to JOSEPH ELMER YOAKUM (1890-1972), Galerie Derouillon is delighted to present "Inscape", an exhibition by JOSEPH ELMER YOAKUM.
This exhibition is supported by the Venus over Manhattan Gallery, Anna Furney and Adam Lindemann.
JOSEPH ELMER YOAKUM's idiosyncratic view of landscapes is fueled by his travels across the world and his experience of World War I. The self-taught visual artist built a romantic postcard-inspired world, drawing more than two thousand immersive full-page landscapes from memory, which retrace his nomadic life spent visiting territories in the United States and abroad.
Collecting topographic data like a diligent surveyor, JOSEPH ELMER YOAKUM operates on ordinary paper with ballpoint pens, colored pencils, pastels, or watercolors. His illustrated surveys delve deep into personal history, collective unconscious, and beyond. Part anatomical charts and part geological structures, the vernacular landscapes shown for the first time in France shape a notebook of intimate remembrances, open on a common horizon. Whether dreamed or real, the archaeogeographic drawings capture fragments of visited landscapes and reveal the perpetual movement of the artist's inner turmoil as much the scope of his shimmering travels. Carried by remembrance and consisting of passages, undulations, folds, and borders, they are the reflections of a poetic and animist perception of the natural world, where the hemmed mountains look like brains, the soft rivers are blood flows, and the skies calm seas; where perspectives are radically flattened, and the brightly colored patterns are tightly shaped. A reminder of the depth of the landscapes that we live in and that live within us, "Inscape" invites us to stop following the constant flow of time, to let ourselves be subtly moved by the imaginary pace in an unstable labyrinthine space.
JOSEPH ELMER YOAKUM offered only an exclusive biography along with a brief and late career. He claimed mixed heritage - Native American through his parents from the Cherokee Nation, as well as African and American. He would refer to himself as the "Old Black Man" guided by God and claimed to have visited every continent — save Antarctica — "as a hobo and stowaway.": first as a child when he joined a circus, then as a young soldier during World War I (which took him to France), and later, alone, by train, across the Western United States, before settling in Chicago at the age of 70 and devoting himself to creating art every day.