is a very fast medium, I love it for that. Il love it too for the fact that it uses worthless material, sort of rubbish, and that it goes back to a tradition of combat. 

When I discovered the technique of collage I was bewondered and so it is ever now. It opens to a world of possibilities far bigger than if I only painted my own fantasy. And the link with reality seems closer to me, even if it's a reproduced reality. Because I want to communicate with the onlooker. But not by painting like an old master. I want to be of my time. And  modern art displays the "infidelity" to tradition and reality. 

I call my works mutations or grafts because I want to realise impossible transplantations in a different way than the cubists, dadaists and surrealists. I focalize on the borders between the pieces in order to obtain a real graft. For me it's like my brain is working, trying to make sense out of all  impressions, souvenirs, sensations ...

If people think that collage consists in just putting things together that have nothing in common, to me it's different. It's like trying to reassemble the disparate pieces of a whole that has been broken and where you miss the manual. The result can be a bit frightening, I agree, but through these edges I have the place to think and to feel, I have freedom. And I think that art that pleases too easily,  lies. And the fact that the grafts are visible (instead of smoothening the picture) shows the fracture and in the same time the healing since the whole functions as a coherent picture. Furthermore I estimate that a work of art has not to please immediately, but to startle the onlooker, to fascinate him. 

One aspect is the fact that my collages generally  don't have one center, but several and that the eye has to oscillate between different fragments. It means that there is uncertainty about the subject of the collage  in contrast to many visual works which try to affirm one message. I feel that in this aspect of my works lies their modernity.

But still, to me collage is continuing painting by other means. 

This year (2010) I discovered the magic of digital printing on canvas which permits me to enlarge my collages from A4 to much bigger sizes (after somme pp work on my computer) , a possibility I was dreaming of since the intensification of my collage work in 1999.

 As for my work itself, I always say to myself: make it stronger, more powerful.

The collages are displayed in section collage: collage

A very complete and interesting analysis of collage with examples of my works can be found here: course on collage

And here's a brilliant text from Cecil Touchon (The International Museum of Collage)

"When studying the figurative collage art of Berni Stephanus I wonder why I feel that I get it. The tenuous, fleeting relationships seen in the work seem almost past the breaking point in terms of their disjunction. There is the suggestion to look at these works like old master paintings since very often there are glossy reproductions of masterworks in the background or body parts of familiar paintings in the constructed figures.

However, the Cubist techniques used, of shifts in spatial scale and angles of perspective, are often so exaggerated that perhaps too much is being expected of the viewer to make the leaps of understanding required to assimilate the image presented in these seemingly piecemeal compositions. A pair of lips where an entire head should be, an amputated head with a gaping mouth wrapped around a woman’s posterior as if to be part of her beach clothing, an arm protruding from a hip, suspended belief is shaken. But still, we DO get it, the parts have an immediate recognition of gestalt that doesn't seem like it should be there. We are left wondering why.

The gestural, spontaneous quality of the work suggests that these are perhaps studies for more finished works to be accomplished later on canvas giving a feeling of freedom of expression that many collage artists seem to lose in the quest for a well crafted and finished work. Thinking of these as preparatory works helps us to dismiss Stephanus’s casual, free wheeling antics as impulsive image hunting but still there is something more. They succeed too well far too often to be merely studies and experiments that might as easily be thrown out as kept.

Then I consider the precedents of film and I recall movies where close ups of lips or eyes, sounds, music, flashes of other angles, other moments in time, in rapid succession yield a similar wholeness but move so swiftly that you don't have time to consider it. Films move so fast and continuously that they can't be studied. Yet, in the memory, there are these raw impressions fed to the mind that are converted into an experience. 

That is what is found in Stephanus’s collages; a series of focal impressions gathered together as our eye moves around the compositions. This is what makes these works poetic, the accumulation of focused experiences that gather in our mind as we read the image. Stephanus clearly understands the unfoldment of the image in the mind's eye. We gradually acquire the image through our gaining an understanding of the relationships of the parts to one another and to the whole.

His keen eye knows what we will read in the work like Bach knows the edges of what the listener will hear as order or chaos in his fugues and inventions. At times Stephanus's collages are deceptively simple like a Duchampian ready made. The elegance of design in some of the less complex works is captivating.

Stephanus doesn't spoon feed us the images like babies who need predigested and highly refined mush. He offers raw experience restated like a clever insider joke in a conversation between old and sophisticated friends. This rawness is evidenced by Stephanus’s gestural style of scissor snipped bits of paper pasted quickly into place to capture a fleeting insight.

The result is a delightful combination of surprising and often challenging compositions that exude confidence, a fine sense of humor and a love for a dada-like irreverent and open eyed exploration and commentary on daily life in the modern world."