Acquaintance expands true creative borders of our mind

Intersections and Continuity in Mayenne, at National Art Museum of Belarus, displays works from Naпve Art Museum in French Laval, alongside those from the private collections of Michel Leroux and Marc Valin and private collections of authors themselves
By Victor Mikhailov

This exhibition is interested not only by the exhibited artworks. It also attracts by the newsworthy information which can be learnt only at the exhibition hall.

In the 1960s and 1970s, French Laval’s artistic movement began, which continues to exist nowadays. In 1972, Brigitte Maurice, who began her creative path in Paris, moved to Laval at the suggestion of artist Jean-Pierre Bouvet — the director of the town’s Museum of Naпve Art. She completely devoted herself to her work, creating canvases filled with recollections and mystery. Jacques Reumeau also worked in Laval, using the advices of prominent painters Franзois Aubin Barbвtre and Jean-Eric Fouchault when he was a beginning self-taught painter.

Intersections and Continuity in Mayenne (La Mayenne а L’œuvre: Croisements et Filiation) presents naпve, popular and singular trends, which led to the creation of a dynamic and unique style (via their interaction). Surrealist and fantastic influences enriched these artistic crossings.

The current exhibition showcases the creativity of only a dozen painters, although many other famous masters are bright representatives of the Laval School — including Gustave Cahoreau, Antoine Rigal and Joлl Lorand.

Back in the 16th century, royal doctor and famous illustrator Ambroise Parй founded the ‘fantastic trend’ of the Mayenne painters with his engravings, which inspired such names as Henri Rousseau (1844-1910) and Alfred Jarry (1873-1907). These outstanding masters, in turn, inspired other independent painters born in Mayenne, who began their creative path as representatives of other professions.

Robert Tatin, a bricklayer and builder, began to paint and sculpt after 1945, having dedicated many years to constructing his own church — a huge museum in Cossй-le-Vivien, revealing his own poetic vision of the world. Tatin’s contemporary, cabinetmaker Henri Trouillard, began devoting himself to fantastic and naпve works in the 1950s, working through the 1960s. Others included Jacques Reumeau — whose works inspire a feeling of anxiety — and Alain Lacoste, who breaks all rules while bringing himself closer to singular art. Today’s artists are still influenced by these masters: Serge Paillard depicts the mysterious archaeology of the invented country of Patatonie in his works, while Jean-Louis Cerisier combines elements of dream and reality.

Continuity is preserved via the Musйe du Vieux Chвteau. Laval-born hardware goods trader Jules Lefranc (1887-1972), from Paris, inherited a wonderful artistic gift from his prominent predecessor Henri Rousseau. Lefranc donated his collection of artworks to Laval, founding the Museum of Naпve Art in 1967. His followers, including Jean-Pierre Bouvet and Charles Schaette, continue the traditions of naпve art, organising exhibitions and biennales.

Collector Michel Leroux has made a wonderful contribution to the current exhibition with folk inspired works by Cйnerй Hubert and Patrick Chapeliиre — both born in rural areas. Cйnerй was a blacksmith and a hardware goods trader who created works from metal, showing his love for animals. Meanwhile, Patrick revered nature. Their works are testimony to their love of their native land.

Writer, painter and naпve art researcher Bruno Montpied brought the notion of a ‘poetic figurative Laval pictorial school’ to the wider public just as others from Mayenne began to exhibit beyond the borders of their native region — primarily in Bиgles’ museum: Alain Lacoste, Antoine Rigal and Sylvie Blanchard, followed by Jean-Louis Cerisier, Joлl Lorand, Gustave Cahoreau and Serge Paillard.

The current exhibition shows us the works of artists little-known to Belarusians or to the wider world.
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