The Portrait of Garance 3 (One, Two, Three, Sun)

Jérôme Zonder, 1974

The Portrait of Garance 3 (One, Two, Three, Sun), 2015-2016

Born in 1974 in Paris, Jérôme Zonder graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in 2001. Working across painting, collage, photography, and sculpture, he covers a broad range of expressions, from hyperrealism to caricature, usually with obsessive attention to detail. He produces black and white drawings without using any instruments—not even an eraser—instead smudging his fingertips with charcoal or graphite powder and applying it to the substrate. Wandering among themes of fear, denial, and guilt, he creates a sense of unease in the viewer.

Zonder’s art historical influences include Albrecht Dürer, Rembrandt, Hieronymus Bosch, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, Francisco de Goya, James Ensor, Jean Olivier Hucleux, Anselm Kiefer, Otto Dix, and Nicolas Poussin, as well as comics, film, literature, pornography, the world of Walt Disney, emojis, Adolf Hitler, and Che Guevara. The drawings manifest themes such as physical violence, humiliation, oppression, depression, and the overlooked effects of hidden power. The compositions draw on the traumas of history—not just the history of art but also the traumas of human history.

By using only black and white, Zonder aims to establish connections between documentary and archival imagery, and by questioning the concept of beauty, he reinterprets existing facts through contemporary images. Zonder sees drawing as a resource with which to probe the depths of image and figure, in the manner of an anthropologist. By impressing on the viewer the brutality and frightening aspects of the figures he produces, he opens a door to the possibility of confronting responsibilities. The artist says that the representation of the human face has disappeared after World War II, the Rwandan genocide, and the destruction in Hiroshima, and that for this reason, in his drawings, he covers the faces of most of the figures with their own hands or with masks. In this way, he takes representation beyond that which is already defined.

Zonder’s drawing "The Portrait of Garance 3 (One, Two, Three, Sun)" was inspired by Marcel Carné’s film "Les Enfants du Paradis" (Children of Paradise, 1945). In naming the child characters that he uses in his drawings, who grow over the years, he uses names from this same film: Garance, Baptiste, Pierre-François. But in the artist’s works, the figure called Garance emerges not as the child from the film, but as a child of the twenty-first century, surrounded by an uncertain, unsafe world. This atmosphere leaves little room in the drawing for the figure. Unable to face the negativity surrounding her, she covers her face with her hands, as humanity does when confronted with all the suffering to which it turns its back.


Work on Paper


Pencil lead and charcoal on paper

Credit Line

İstanbul Museum of Modern Art Collection