John Bernhard is a Swiss American artist who traveled North America extensively before settling in Houston, Texas in 1980. For more than three decades he has chosen the medium of photography to explore the everyday world from new perspectives, breaking away into different pathways of artistic expression. He continues to devote all of his energy taking photographs and bringing them together to enhance their meaning with visual interplay.
Beginning in 1985 with a solo exhibition at the Houston Center for Photography, Bernhard has had more than 30 solo shows, three museum exhibitions, and many collective exhibitions throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Bernhard’s photographs are also included in 20 museum’s permanent collection.
“I always work on themes, I actually keep several on the stove at once. I like to think that I specialize in versatility, it stimulates my creativity and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I like to explore new grounds and I constantly work on ideas, producing essays, photographing people and the female body.”
Whether Bernhard references the human form or elements of nature—tree bark, wood, earth, stones, water…—he partakes of this method. To explain, he writes, “I really like to layer images to create a new meaning. I chose elements of the earth as my main overlay and started searching for a transformation.
“I guess my choice of themes fluctuates between dream and reality, between reflection and emotion and also a bit of fascination with transformation. It is the transformation, transition and change in people, bodies, myself and our environment that I am after.”
The series collected here are expressions of Bernhard’s love of form and representation and in the transformative power of images. The titles of the various series, Skindream, Metamorphs, Transformation, État d’Ame, Bodily Change, Blue Marble, and Metamorfaces, all speak to what Bernhard calls “transitional forms of being.”