Friday, 29 January 2016

Contemporary Art in Var

This haunting image was used on the 2015 exhibition poster.
The South of France has always attracted artists - the light, clear and bright in summer, pale and muted in winter; the countryside, the villages, the spectacular coastline.

The resulting drawings, paintings or photographs provide delicious images that lure people to the area.

But there is also contemporary art, some serious, some less so, and though they don't specifically reflect the landscape, the works are in many ways inspired by the region, its lifestyle - and its underbelly.

Our major town - Draguignan - in the 'Dracénie' region of the Var, hosts an amazing exhibition each summer, known as 'L'Eté Contemporain Dracénois'  or Contemporary Summer in Dracénie.

The main part of the exhibition is housed in a former church in central Draguignan, now a large and cavernous gallery.

These speared apples eventually fall.
The installation at the left is of apples impaled on arrows. As the apples dried and withered during the exhibition, they fell to the floor below.

The meaning behind it? I have no idea, but I found it both quirky and somewhat amusing - and also a little dark. Perhaps also a waste of good apples!

The exhibition is not just confined to the 'Musée' - it ranges far more widely than that.

You can spend several days exploring the town as well as the exhibition venues, such as the square clock tower in central Draguignan where large paintings are displayed on each of the landings as you climb towards the bell - and an excellent view - at the top.

Inside the tower, it is hard to know whether to look at the steep steps below your feet or whether to remain poised in mid-air while you study the painting right in front of you!

Painted sketch on a watercolour rosebud.

Then there are the bookshops and cafes which each display a component of the exhibition.

I do not know enough about the event to know whether the artists are all from the Var department (or the Dracénie region within the department) but there is always something thought-provoking to see.

Two years ago I was blown away by a series of beautifully woven and sewn head-dresses made of found objects including skulls of dead animals, feathers, sequins from bottle tops.

Not all entries have titles and there is no specific catalogue for the exhibition.

I also find it hard to go to all the cafes just to look at the artwork, without eating/drinking something in each one out of politeness!

I would like to know more about each artist, but it is enough for now just to see the work of modern, contemporary artists in France today. 'L'Eté Contemporain Dracénois'  will celebrate its 25th anniversary this year. It runs from late July through to the end of September.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps some art and craft from Chez Vous or have you already done that?
    But it does bring the surrounds to life even if a little obscure.
    Our village of Richelieu took over all the empty buildings and provided premises for the artisans of the region. It allows people to see the craftsman at work.