One of two triptychs created for the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center.

One of two triptychs created for the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center.

interviewed by Dennis Ray

Jonas Gerard’s art comes in all sizes. His paintings can be found everywhere from cozy kitchen corners to large corporate boardrooms.

Creating large works of art is where his heart truly lies though. His abstract, gestural painting style has its roots in the time he spent as a dancer with the Nikolais Dance Theater in the 60’s, and painting on a large canvas encourages his creativity much like a dancer dancing on a large stage.

When the impulse to work very large lights a spark and aligns with a beautiful space to hang grand works, magic happens. Such a convergence is responsible for an illuminating display of new art at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center.

During a recent trip to the Visitor Center, Jonas became inspired by the building’s architecture, geometry, light and purpose. The result is two new 12 ft. triptych (3-panel) paintings created expressly for that space.

“When I was a young boy coming to America for the first time, I was greeted by the Statue of Liberty” said Jonas. “A place to greet visitors brings back warm memories, and creating these paintings is a way for me to again say thank you to a place that welcomed me, this time Asheville, NC.”

Works by Jonas Gerard are currently on display at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce, 36 Montford Ave., Asheville, NC. For more information, visit jonasgerard.com

Rapid River Magazine: Tell us a little about your new large triptychs on display at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce.

Jonas Gerard: When the opportunity came to create a pair of large works for the COC, I jumped at the chance. I love to paint large. Creating the two 12 ft. triptychs (3-panel paintings) was a very freeing experience. Whenever I work big like this, I feel like a cage has been opened and I can really spread my wings. Little did I know how big my wings could be.

In French I would say “Quelle Belle Grandeur!” A large expanse of open canvas frees me in ways few other arts forms can. It is all so inspiring. It is very likely that you will be seeing many more large works from me in the future.

RRM: You’ve been an artist your entire life. Painted many works from representational to abstract. President Ford honored you for your bi-centennial piece. You’ve created many sculptures and other forms of other art. What is it that makes you constantly want to keep changing and trying new ways to express yourself? And, are you ever tempted to just pull back and rest on your laurels?

JG: My eyes are open to all influences from the worlds of art, nature and beyond. To force all that through a narrow funnel and limit myself to one style would be to limit creativity itself; I can’t do that. I create art in a multitude of styles and media because that is the way I experience life. Abstracts, Landscapes, Mixed Media, Silks, Sculpture… I must live a life of eclectic creativity or be consumed by the creative fire.

RRM: What art style/media has been the most challenging for you and why?

JG: Every medium I work with has its own unique challenges. My recent work with silks is a good example. The dyes I use with them behave very differently than paints. Even more than acrylics, like the watercolor wet-on-wet technique, they have a mind of their own and I have to let go of control even more than is usual for me.

RRM: Music plays a very important role with your art. Has that always been so and how did the combining of the two come about for you?

JG: An important aspect of my approach is painting quickly, spontaneously putting inspiration on canvas and eliminating any opportunities for second thoughts or regrets. Music helps me with that. When I get lost in the music, I can’t over-think my painting process.

Jonas Gerard
240 Clingman Ave. in Asheville’s River Arts District
(828) 350-7711
www.jonasgerard.com