Artist Jean-Paul Bourdier and 4 elements theory

At the Amsterdam Lift-Off film festival this year I saw an amazing short film ”Between the Sand”, directed by John Picklap. It was about the journey of the artist Jean-Paul Bourdier and in some way the short presentation of his huge body of work and of his art and life perspective. I am so glad to be able to watch this film and learn about this talented artist. I admire his work very much. He has great impact on many of the young photographers involved in the art and conceptual photography today.


This was written in the description of the film:

 Artist Jean-Paul Bourdier travels into covert desert locations to infuse the nude body, bold color, and stark landscapes producing a surreal visual effect. In doing so, Bourdier transcends traditional narrative to discover something more real and true about the nature of who we are.

Check the movie teaser in the link below:
Jean-Paul Bourdier works as a Professor of Architecture, Photography and Visual Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a photographer with a very unique style.  Each of his images is a unique scene captured at natural landscapes joined with the human body forms, expressing the beauty and the nature combined in the 4 elements that were believed to be essential to life: earth, water, air and fire. If your interest about him got triggered then you can watch this14 minutes documentary film about him, take a look at the link below:
I found his approach very interesting because the human organism also contains all four of those elements as basic components. Each of the four elements is inherently neutral and is neither good nor bad.
Spiritual studies are teaching us that everyone has free choice, but also responsibility to decide how to use the power of the elements and which are their characteristics that we can develop or avoid in our character. When I searched a little bit further about the 4 elements and their impact on our personality I realized that the elements itself don’t contribute to our good or bad behaviors but it depends on us and on the way we use them to develop our being. So lets review the good and bad basic characteristics for each of the elements. According to the  Spiritual Knowledge 

Earth element is related to melancholic. 

Positive qualities: vigilance, care-freedom, kindness, trusting nature, clarity, lightness, independence, dexterity, optimism, diligence, acuity, joy, smiling…

Negative qualities: lack of perseverance, dishonesty, gossipy, cunningness, backbiting, garrulousness, inconstancy, touchiness, prodigality.

Water element is related to phlegmatic.

Positive qualities: understanding, placidity, mildness, trusting nature, devotion, mercy, forgiveness, modesty, compassion, fervor, pliancy, contemplativeness, internalization…

Negative qualities: indifference, heartlessness, laziness, indolence, rigidity, lack of daring, lack of concern, instability, dejection

Air element is related to optimists.

Positive qualities: vigilance, care-freedom, kind-heartedness, trusting nature, clarity, lightness, independency, dexterity, optimism, diligence, acuity, joy, smiling…

Negative qualities: lack of perseverance, dishonesty, gossipy, cunningness, backbiting, garrulousness, inconstancy, touchiness, prodigality

Fire element is related to choleric.

Positive qualities: vigorousness, zeal, enthusiasm, courage, decisiveness, power of creativity, daring, sedulity…

Negative qualities: quarrelsomeness, irritability, urge to destroy everything, passion, immoderacy, jealousy, voraciousness, vindictiveness, violence, hate, anger, sudden ebullition.

If I didn’t attend the Lift-Off Film Festival and if I hadn’t watched the film  ”Between the Sand”, directed by John Picklap, about Jean-Paul Bourdier, I might never knew about his existence and I would never write an article about this unique photographer, painter, poet, and performance artist. I would had never made the research about spiritual meaning of the 4 elements within human characters. Therefore, I would like to suggest to all of you one thing, whenever you got the chance to visit or participate at any interesting event, do not hesitate, just go. If you don’t go you will never know how many interesting people you may meet and what kind of interesting art you haven’t seen before you may discover.

So yes, you can agree or disagree with this spiritual approach but I am sure that you are going to be amazed with this talented and imaginative artist I have presented to you in this article.

Jean-Paul Bourdier never uses any digital enhancement or editing. What you see on his photos is what was really there at the moment when he captured these photos. Sometimes he plans the concept but sometimes he puts the plans aside because the concept appears itself in front of his eyes.

He published a lot of books that include his photographic publications, for example: Leap Into the Blue, 2012, Bodyscapes, 2007, and many more. I shared in this article some of his photos that are free on the web so you can see a sample of his huge body of work. I hope you are finding this artist interesting.

Jean-Paul Bourdier is creating fantastic interventions within the landscapes and human bodies that challenge viewers to question the lines between mind and body, human and nature, figure and landscape, dream and reality and balance between the 4 elements. The way he managed to bring his dreams and his imagination into the reality is just amazing. If I ever got a chance to visit California I will definitely try to meet him in person. I think he is magnificent personality, from whom we can learn a lot.

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