Artist Jean-Baptiste Monnin carefully constructs detailed drawings of the architecture around him. Dissecting buildings and putting the pieces in new contexts; we meet in his studio to see it happen in real life.
For some, architecture is just the set-design in our everyday lives. But for Jean-Baptiste Monnin, it’s the leading star. When he looks at buildings, he sees the small architectural details that many of us pass by. For him, architecture is never static; it’s the backbone of his art.
It’s a typical grey morning in January when we enter Jean-Baptiste Monnin’s apartment in Schöneberg. The style of his home is a mirror of his drawings. It’s precise and in order; every object has its place. The difference, though, is that the cat Bisou doesn’t run around in his artworks. It makes sense that a person who builds impressive abstract architectural drawings with thousands and thousands of exact lines is a person who also orders his succulents by size.
Jean-Baptiste was born in France. He moved to Berlin six years ago after he’d fallen in love with the city while on vacation. With a background in architecture and fine arts, he has developed a unique style.
The process behind the series “Basculement” starts with a trip, either in Berlin or somewhere else, to find a modern or contemporary styled building to photograph as a reference. Jean-Baptiste then spends approximately a week redrawing the photo. He reframes, reverses or rotates the picture to create the abstract urban landscape he’s envisioned.
“I want to give the feeling to the viewer that they can go inside the picture and walk on this landscape,” he says while sipping on a cup of tea. The last part of the process is to fold the big canvas as one would do with architectural, technical plans.
We ask him to draw for us, and the vibe in the room immediately changes; his pen dances over the canvas to the sound of a track from Pink Floyd’s album Dark Side of The Moon. It’s a soothing thing to watch. By spending hours standing still and making repetitive hand movements in pursuit of the ranging shades of grey, typical for his drawings, Jean-Baptiste tells us that he comes close to a meditative state. “In a way, I even become a part of the art,” he says, leaning over the big canvas.