La Motte-Chalancon, Drôme provençale, Winter 2016. A black-cloaked figure paces the narrow, crooked streets of the medieval village, as if straight out of a gothic film: muttering mathematical formulae, Patrice Jeener is taking us to his house, where he introduces us to his work – hundreds of engravings representing mathematical objects, concepts and graphs.
Do you know what a double-sheeted hyperboloid looks like? Or a seven-dimensional hypercube? Patrice Jeener, one of the last artist-engravers, draws and engraves such objects in metal, and his art is informed by these mathematical objects. For him, as for mathematicians, human imagination is not bounded by our earthly dimensions, and for 50 years he has been combining the purity of equations with the elegance of copper and chisel.
Through this neglected art of engraving, he gives tangibility to the obscure imaginary world of mathematicians. He gives shape to the most complex equations and, under his chisel, mathematical symbols become the aesthetic expression of an impalpable dimension. These arabesque-like shapes are each a science-fiction dream, a dream of a universe come true, and transport us to the very heart of the mysterious realms of mathematics and artistic creation – two worlds that are ultimately not all that different.