A royal setting for contemporary art
About the 15th anniversary of the Art Season at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, to be seen until 30 October.
We have already spoken to you about the Domaine des Etangs, this dreamy place nestled in Massignac, in the Charente region of France, which is vibrant with the care taken to protect its ecosystem as well as the installation of contemporary works of art in the middle of nature. In the same category of places that encourage you to slow down and where it is so good to stroll in the summer, the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire. Another magical place where you just want to stroll around and meditate on each work of art that makes sense with its environment, created especially by contemporary artists from around the world. But also to marvel at nature in its simplest form, or to dream of a sumptuous historical heritage. Although this ancient fortress was built around the year 1000 to guard the border between the counties of Blois and Anjou, the castle owes its current appearance mainly to Diane de Poitiers, who lived there in the 16th century thanks to the generosity of Catherine de Médicis, although there is nothing to stop us from imagining the sumptuous receptions that the Princess de Broglie organised there in the 19th century.
No less than fifteen exhibitions and installations are being held this summer at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, which is celebrating the fifteenth anniversary of its Art Season. Chantal Colleu-Dumond, the director of the estate and curator of the exhibition, has chosen to devote a very fine retrospective to Jean Le Gac, entitled "En plein air", which will be displayed in nine rooms of the château. It was time to shine the spotlight on the "narrative work" of this painter and poet, born in 1936 and so often kept in the shadows. "Too few people know his work, which is nevertheless fascinating and deserves a major retrospective", wrote Daniel Templon in his autobiography after having exhibited Jean Le Gac in his art gallery between 1979 and 2004. Chantal Colleu-Dumond has now taken on this task.
Far from being a traditional painter working on the motif, Jean Le Gac decided very early on to stage himself, long before Sophie Calle, mixing his own existence with that of an imaginary painter in porous narratives, where reality and fantasy create a universe of profound originality, ultimately making his own life a work of art. A virtuoso draughtsman, the artist took the radical decision in the early 1970s to leave his studio to confront his paintings with texts or photographs. The works in this retrospective, dating from 1968 to the present day, come from his studio as well as from various Frac and museums. His "story-works" are "bursts of life and dreams, travel tales, balloon adventures, heavenly gardens, naps in the meadow", as the curator writes in the preface to the exhibition catalogue. "We contemplate all the reflections of a real existence and a fantasised existence, the mystery of sleeping women and beautiful women in bloom, of secretly wounded beings... We discover giant faces, but also herbariums, architectures, libraries...". Jean Le Gac now creates digital images printed on large tarpaulins, always looking for new means of expression.
Just like Quayola, this art history enthusiast and master of digital creation born in 1982 in Rome, who proposes with "Evening Effects" such an immersion in nature through four giant screens that one immediately thinks of Monet's Water Lilies. Chantal Colleu-Dumond could not have found a better way to inaugurate the new Digital Gallery at the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire in a 300 m2 space that had not been opened since 1938!
The German artist Evi Keller, born in 1968, has installed her new work in the Grange aux Abeilles, as a follow-up to the hypnotic video "Matière-Lumière" created in 2015 and exhibited in the Stables of the Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire. A large millefeuille of plastic films shaped with Indian ink and poetry ash, this new work is presented as a kind of palimpsest veil reflected in a pool of water, animated by light, wind and the vibrations of a gong.
Vibrations that Fabienne Verdier captures in the invisible forces of nature. The painter, who trained in calligraphy and was born in Paris in 1962, has found the vast galleries of the Agnès Varda courtyard the ideal setting for her spiritually charged paintings inspired by the Loire River flowing below the château. It seems as if the giant brushes she makes herself and handles with bicycle wheels were just waiting to bubble up from all the twists and turns of a river. Thus the white foam of "Jeux d'eau" unfolds on a polyptych 2.60 m high and 7.35 m wide, and the painting is completed with a sand installation, a device that Fabienne Verdier is experimenting with for the first time.
A total experience is proposed by Stéphane Guiran, whose "Nid des murmures" has already sown its five thousand sparkling quartz geodes in the Stables' riding school since 2017. This time it is in the lower gallery of the Fenil that the French artist born in 1968 plunges the visitor into absolute darkness to better bring him light. That of a rain of selenites from the Moroccan Atlas, real sponges of emotions gently radiating. Above all, it is the light of nature's wisdom. Branches of hundred-year-old elms from Eygalières hover along a winding path sown with wood chips from the Vosges, a song rises. Underground and welcoming forest. Soothing belly. "The song of the elm" speaks of those tests that make you stronger.
Afterwards, it will be good to come out into the open air, well recharged with positive energy, to meditate in front of the three enigmatic sculptures by Jaume Plensa installed in the park, and then to marvel at the monumental sculpture hung in the trees like a giant crystal chandelier, by John Grade. Born in 1970 in Minneapolis, the American contemporary art artist, surprisingly little known in France, has come to hang this splendid aerial sculpture in the historic park of the Domaine. Entitled "Reservoir" because it is made up of hundreds of small translucent receptacles that fill up with each rainfall, the work changes its appearance according to its weight, which can vary from 30 to 350 kg depending on the rainfall!
But in the Historical Park, you should not miss the impressive sculpture "Flux", by Alison Stigora, whose organic undulations invite you to beware of sleeping water... And then go round and round the countless spaces that this castle devotes to art, to come across "La peau du Kotibé" by Lélia Demoisy in the upper gallery of the Asinerie, "Les roues de l'existence" by Katarzyna Kot-Bach in the Ecuries, Carole Benzaken's "Bibliothèque(s)" in the lower gallery of the west wing, Françoise Vergier's "Princesse d'Abyssinie" in the Grand Salon, or the miracle of balance and grace of Christiane Löhr's installation in the King's Tower...