May 25, 2019

Angelo Favero, Il Sassi del Piave/Stones from the Piave River

all pictures courtesy of Francesco Galli

San Pietro di Barbozza is a small community of some 1000 inhabitants in the province of Treviso  in northern Italy, located some 80 km north of Venice. The area around the village is known for the wine that is produced there, in particular the Prosecco

But the area also deserves the attention of those interested in art environments, because of Angelo Favero's creation. that is located along a road just outside San Pietro di Barbozza ¹

Life and works 

Angelo Favero was born on April 20, 1945 and he probably had a technical education, because he worked in the construction sector for international companies, involved for many years in projects in countries like Indonesia and Libya.

After his work abroad, Favero settled in San Pietro di Barbozza, living in a house in the village and also owning a piece of land just outside the community. Until his retirement he worked for a local building company.

Favero has transformed his piece of land outside the village, in particular the part along a local road, into an art environment. The site mainly includes stone sculptures, predominantly arranged side by side in a long line parallel to and facing the road, although some are also grouped as separate ensembles. 

Over the years, the collection has acquired a size of dozens of larger and smaller sculptures.

Favero collects the stones he uses for his creations, along the Piave, the river that flows through the region over a length of 220 km, rising in the Karmic Alps and ending in the Adriatic Sea. north-west of Venice. 

The river passes Favero's hometown at a distance of a few kilometers. Its shores are full of rocks, large specimens included, mostly appearing in a typical oval shape due to the effects of the river.

the workshop 

On the piece of land where Favero created his art environment, he also has his workshop, a shed made out of sheet metal and concrete, called l'Alcazar. Here he assembles the stones into sculptures he refers to as putinòts, probably a Venetian word that means puppet.

He puts his sculptures together by stacking -and connecting with construction iron- larger and smaller stones into the character he wants to portray and often already has recognized in the rough stones.

A head of a sculpture is sometimes provided with a headgear consisting of a flat stone, or a spherical stone on a flat one, and sometimes his characters are provided with small, colorful items that accentuate their character.

Of course, Favero also uses hammer and chisel to carve the stone into the specific shape he has in mind. 

Favero, who is also known as Zoe, after a comic book from the United States, first published in Italy in 1945 as Arturo and Zoe, also has made mosaic for some time, but ultimately preferred sculpting. 

He regards his sculptures as his family of his friends and also calls them citizens of the world.

Tourists often want to buy some sculpture, but Favero will not sell his creations, except in some specific situation when it has to do with a good cause.

Display of the sculptures in the village

Favero's site outside the village includes the actual art environment, but detached sculptures can also be seen in front or his home in the village (photo below left), at a fountain in the village's center (photo below right) and in windows of shops.

* I sassi di Zoe, article and photo's on the website of Francesco Galli, photographer
* The website Prosecco Superiore Circular Route has a description of a 15 km walk in the wine region that goes past Favero's site which is briefly described
* The website Guarda il monde da un obló has a short review of the site and some photo's

¹ I would like to thank Francesco Galli, photographer (see documentation), who made me aware of this art environment; the above text is largely based on the information about Favero in Galli's website (see documentation)

Favero, Angelo
Il Sassi del Piave
Via della Cima 20
San Pietro di Barbozza, Treviso area, Veneto region, Italy
can be seen from the road
the pictures below (2017) give an impression of the site 
as it can be seen via streetview 

May 15, 2019

Nelson Iskandaryan, Двор Нельсона/Nelson's courtyard

photos published here in agreement with the photographer
  click on pictures to enlarge

In Saint Petersburg, Russia's second largest city, with nearly 5.5 million inhabitants, Nelson Nikolaevich Iskandaryan for several years has been developing an art environment, generally known as Nelson's courtyard 

Life and works

Not much has been reported about Nelson's life before he settled in the  small basement at the courtyard at Polozova Street nr 6 in Saint Petersburg.

He was born October 28, 1959 and he did his military service in the 1980's in Vinnytsia (Ukraine). But what happened after he left the military, is not clear, except that he -being homeless- wandered around for many years.

the (currently decorated) entrance of the courtyard

Around 2011 Nelson finally managed to find shelter in the basement in the courtyard of a residential block in Saint Petersburg, a yard that at that time still was a mess, where children by their parents were not allowed to play

Nelson's accommodation at the courtyard

The space in the basement, probably the abandoned room of a former janitor, offers Nelson just a small living area, but he does have a water tap, electricity and a connection to the internet.

Photos of the interior of the accommodation show a colorfully painted, rather cozy interior that is decorated with all kinds of motifs and embellished with parts of birch trees. Nelson is often pictured  playing a guitar, singing one of his many self-written songs. The pictures also show a tame raven and cats, Nelson's roommates.

Nelson's accommodation. also called The Temple of Songs, with its colorful decorations, can be seen  as a small-scale art environment, a prelude to his magnum opus, the transformation of the court yard into an art environnement full-scale.

Creating an art environment

The earliest photos of the site on VKontakte date from May 2016 and show Nelson's art environment in an early phase of development, in which two shamed cars in particular are central.

Indeed, it all started when someone offered Nelson a large quantity of pink paint and he decided to use this to paint an old car that stood in the courtyard. Thereafter, Nelson managed to get someone willing to give him a second old car, which he also painted.

The two cars, arranged diagonally, in some way mirroring each other, form the central part of the creation, an arrangement that as far as I know does not occur in this way in any other art environment in Europe.

With its painted walls, pavements and doors, the centrally placed cars and other colorful decorated items that Nelson added, the site soon began to attract the attention of the residents of the neighborhood.

Most neighbours apparently appreciated the project and began delivering old toys, bikes, a huge teddy bear and other things to Nelson, gifts that gradually turned the art environment into a varied set of colorful items. Incidentally, if Nelson received a toy that was still in good shape, he gave it away to children from the neighborhood. Back and forth, he and children in general are on good terms.

The site includes a cupboard that contains books made available by local residents. Those books can be taken by interested people, who in turn can also add books. Such a provision in the field of book exchange -which is also found in other large cities in Europe- has an important social function for the immediate vicinity of the site.

But in the meantime the site also has become more widely known and the art environment has become part of the city's sights.

For example, photo shoots are being held for wedding photography, there are performances by groups of young children, as can be seen in the video below. and on the Russian website Pintaram one can see how the site can serve as a background for people who like to make selfies.

Informal guides lead groups of tourists to the courtyard, and publications on the internet about tourist travel include Nelson's art environment in their description of what to see in Saint Petersburg.

Many visitors, including children, enjoy having a chat with Nelson. With this and the time he needs to maintain the site and to regroup the collection when new items are delivered, he is fairly busy every day

And then, he must also find time for practicing his true hobby, playing the guitar and singing his self-made songs.

Whatever this may be, Nelson remains in a good mood and is considering painting a nearby, unprocessed wall, perhaps together with a group of children, thus extending his art environment.

* Nelson's account on VKontakte (with a large series of photos and some videos)
* Some texts of Nelson's songs on website Stihi
* Website Foursquare (with over 70 pictures)
* Illustrated article (2017) on website Newsland
* Illustrated article (March 2018) by Leonid Kaganov on his website
* Illustrated article (August 2018) on website Fiesta
* You Tube has a number of videos of the site, including the two presented here:
* Video Bard Nelson and his unusual court in Petersburg by Nikita Brednikov(September 2018, 16'58 , You Tube)

* Video Pipi Crew by Yuran G. (July 2018, 1'44", You Tube)

Nelson Nikolaevich Iskandaryan
Nelson’s Court
Polozova street,  6
Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation
can be seen in a court yard accessible to the public 

May 08, 2019

Carlos Calderón Yruegas, Villa Tabaiba

all pictures (spring 2019) courtesy of Dominique Clément
from his weblog Hérault Insolite

The small community of Corralejo in the far north of the Spanish island of Fuerteventura is home to a house that is exuberantly provided with all kinds of creations. It's the Villa Tabaiba, home of Carlo Calderón Yruegas and his wife.

Life and works

Born in 1940 in Sevilla, Spain, Yruegas already at a young age showed signs of an artistic talent.

After high school he focused on courses in the field of linguistics and architecture, studying at the Colegio Padres Escolapios and at the Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura of the University of Sevilla.

In France he visited the Université Rouen Normandie located in Mont Saint Aignan, where he qualified in French language and literature.

After these studies he obtained a scholarship to study the abasi architecture in Iraq, a specific variety of architecture that originated in Baghdad and via Damascus arrived in Spain. Yruegas stayed for some 18 months in Baghdad, where he also was involved in projects to realize single-family houses, created some sculptures that were included in a local modern art museum and supplied articles to Spanish (art) magazines. 

Once returned to Spain he published a book about the Iraqi sculptor Mun'im Furat: El Extraño Mundo de Mun'im Furat (Escultor) (The Strange World of Mun'im Furat (Sculptor)), 1975.

In a review of this book in a Spanish magazine, Yruegas is introduced as  "... esperitu cultivado, sensible y noblemente, inquieto, artista, critico de arte, poeta,amante y cultivador de las sciencias biológica....." (a cultivated spirit, sensitive and nobly, restless, artist, art critic, poet, lover and cultivator of biological sciences), in short: someone with a broad cultural interest.

In the late 1970's Yruegas and his wife got the idea to find out if they could continue their lives at Fuerteventura. They went there, but in Puerto del Rosario, the capital of the island, there were no houses to rent, so after some days in a hotel, they left for Corralejo, where they could rent a house.

They probably soon felt at home, while Yruegas also had noted that from this location he could do his work as an architect.

So after some time the couple bought the house, where they currently still live, located at the end of the Avenida Corralejo Grandes Playas in Corralejo, near the community's large beach.

Yruegas turned out to be a man of many talents, besides being an architect he is a painter, sculptor, photographer, poet and writer. In that last capacity he published, among others Escrite en Fuerteventura, 1978-1998, published in 1995.

And then he also transformed the area area around his house into an art environment

It began as a whim, Yruegas said in an interview in December 2017.

Asked why he made these specific creations, he said:  “For my personal pleasure, it's like a joke. I am an architect and I'm very rational and minimalist while designing houses, but with this Villa I can have fun, entertain me and enjoy my own art.

And indeed, already for the passers-by there is a lot to enjoy from the street. 

One sees a long white wall that separates house and garden from the street and on that wall there are colorful scenes with sculptures partially sunk into the wall, such as those with two mermaids against a blue background (as in the top picture).

One can also see from the street that in the area behind the wall, the walled garden, there are structures that rise high above the wall

This art environment includes a number of sculptures that characterize people in all kinds of capacities. Some have been created on the basis of mannequins which Yruegas acquired and subsequently processed (That's why he sometimes is called the "artist of the mannequins.")

Yruegas apparently enjoyed creating all sorts of surreal scenes, such as an arm emerging from a hole in a green surface with a bell, or a lady consisting of a head and two legs appearing on a predominantly blue wall, and various other comparable scenes. .

The walled garden of the site includes, in addition to a beautiful green plantation and many colorful decorations and sculptures, a number of raised structures, such as a square tower-like red structure, an elongated panel with transparant circles flanked in front and behind by mannequins watching and a large weather vane with a triangular wind catcher.

Currently (May 2019) in his late seventies,Yruegas is still active in maintaining the site, although it is quite a lot of work.

* Weblog Héraut Insolite (May 3, 2019) with a series of pictures
* Article (December 2017) on the website Corralejo Info with a large series of photos
* Interview in Fuerteventura Magazine, nr 97 (june 2014), p 27 (available on ISSUU)
* Video (December 2014, 7'40") by Akinoryvy

* Video  (December 2017, 3'57") by Time Beat (some shots appear more than once)

Carlos Calderón Yruegas 
Villa Tabaiba 
Av Corralejo Grandes Playas 121
Corralejo, Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain
can be seen from the street

May 01, 2019

Christian Vancau, Jardin des totems/Totems garden

 all pictures courtesy of Christian Vancau
from his collection and website

Moircy, a small village, part of the community of Libramont-Chevigny in the Belgian Ardennes, is home to the art environment referred to as Totems garden, a site that was single-handedly created by Christian Vancau, by transforming the swampy and grassy area around an old ruined house into a a leafy garden decorated with colorfully painted totems.

Life and works

Christian Vancau was born November 1, 1937 in Ghent, a city in the Flemish part of Belgium. At age 3 he moved with his mother to Liège, a city in the Walloon part of the country. His father was in the Belgian army as a surgeon and had left for London when in May 1940 Germany occupied Belgium. Young Christian could only get to know his father when the war had ended (formally in May 1945, when Germany capitulated). Vancau will become his painter's name, a shortcut to his birth name Van Cauwenberghe.

Vancau studied law and earned a respectable position at a bank. He was in charge of building a network of independent agents, in the province of Liège, to find them, to appoint them, to initiate them at the banking level and to make them work in matters of savings and mortgages.

But he did not feel comfortable in this world of money. In 1985, he was appointed as auditor and in 1989, a few years after the acquisition of his bank by another financial company, he and many others lost their jobs due to spending cuts. Vancau filed a lawsuit that he won after four years of court proceedings.

As a visual artist, Vancau participated for many decades in the artworld. It began in 1967. In 1971 he was sent by his bank in Province of Luxembourg to create there a new network of agents.

From 1976, he presented his paintings at many exhibitions.

But, just as in the world of big money, he dit not really feel at home in the artworld with its galleries. expositions and the need to sell and become famous. In 1990 he went to France, to La Seyne-sur-mer, during seven consecutive stays, and this, for five years. Then, in 1995, Vancau decided to no longer be part of this world and to stop painting.

Reviewing his activities as a visual artist in 2005, Vancau said: "If I'm self-taught? Yes ! I have never taken art classes. A naive painter?, No! A representative of the art brut? No ! Simply a primitive, looking for a round-trip nature-culture "

This remark probably is characteristic for the way Vancau had to express his creative feelings, a way that could lead to nothing else than transforming his garden into an artwork, une gigantesque peinture vivante (a gigantic living painting) as he said.

a view of the stream

When in 1978 Vancau, who in that time managed the regional office of the bank in Libramont, was faced with the decision to buy the neglected property in Moircy, the decisive factor was the presence of a stream that flowed through the grounds. Here he could satisfy his desire to live and work creatively in the midst of nature, although a lot had to be done to renovate the house and adapt its environment, which at the time was only a marshy pasture, without a single tree.

In 1979, Vancau moved into his house

Creating an art environment

In 1982 Vancau started to approach the outside area of some 30 ares belonging to the property. He planted some 150 trees and shrubs which he collected in a nearby forest.  He digged out a number of ponds, fed by the stream that crossed the terrain, which greatly contributed to the leafy atmosphere that ultimately would characterizes the garden.

And he transformed the garden into an art environment by adding dozens of multicolored totems.

Created as an artistic statement and to liven up the garden, these totems give an extra charm to the site when they are reflected in the ponds.

the pictures above give an impression of the way Vancau uses colors
and of the reflection of the sculptures in the ponds

Other decorative elements of the garden include decorative sets hanging in the trees and colorful stone arrangements resting on the ground or paving the walls of the ponds.

In the field of art environments, totem-shaped structures are not often used as a decorative element in works of art. Closest to Vancau's work is the use of totems in the art environment created by Theo Wiesen (1906-1999). Vancau's approach differs from that of Wiesen in his specific and rather uniform structuring of sculptures and in particular in his use of colors, two elements which also contribute to the singularity of his work.

Artwork in the Bay of Toulon

In 1991 and 1992, at the request of the community of La Seyne-sur-Mer, Vancau installed an series of totems in the bay near the Fort de l'Eguillette, which is part of the maritime defense system, built by Napoleon, around the port of Toulon on the southern French Mediterranean coast.

This creation, which added a colorful accent to an otherwise military landscape with fortresses and gray warships, could no longer stand the test of time and has since disappeared, gnawed by the light tides. Vancau revisited the site in 2006. It had passed from the hands of the municipality to those of the Navy. There were only stumps left.....

Art gallery

In 2004 an art gallery was installed above the garage on the side of the house. Daylight can enter through upper windows and there is professional lighting.

On the walls there are paintings made by Vancau's friends. The gallery also has two libraries with all together 24 meters of bookshelves, completely filled with books.

Fondation Vancau

In June 2005, Vancau, together with eight friends, founded the Fondation Vancau. This organization aims to protect the site and everything it includes, such as trees, sculptures and decorations. It also wants to protect the works of many friends-artists. And it wants to promote the dialogue between those who practice and appreciate this form of art.

No open days anymore

Since 1995, Vancau has repeatedly organized an "open day" for those interested in visiting the garden, its house and its workshop. The last open day, visited by more than 3000 visitors, was in 2006, To my knowledge, there will be no more open days.

But the Foundation will be reinstated May 11, 2019, with new directors and activities in Moircy.

* Vancaud's personal website. Some referrals to specific pages: here (about the renovation), here (interview 2005), here (totems reflecting in the ponds), here (inauguration of the Foundation) and here (totems in close up, 2011)
* Entry on website Art Insolite
* Christian Vancau, Autobiography, part 1, 1937-1976, part 2, 1976-1991
* Hugo Horiot, Homme de Boue Homme d Argile, video (October 2011, 24'43") trailer on Vimeo,
full video on Daily Motion (also available on DVD)

Christian Vancau
Jardin des totems
8 Rue de Vesqueville
Moircy, Libramont-Chevigny. Luxembourg Province, Wallonia, Belgium
not open to the public

April 18, 2019

Mario del Sarto, La strada con sculture/The road with sculptures

the start of the Strada Comunale Carriona di Colonnato
click photo to enlarge

Leaving the small community of Bedizzano, Italy, into the direction of Colonnato, the road winds itself up in hairpin bends into the Apuan Alps, a mountain range in northern Tuscany. At the third bend there is a side road that is flanked by numerous sculptures, as shown in above and below screenprints (September 2016, Streetview). This spot is locally known as Mortarola.

a little further on the same strada
click photo to enlarge

Life and works

The series of  sculptures, scattered along the road, was created by Mario del Sarto, who.was born in 1925 in a rural family. Already at the age of eight after school he helped his father, who was a shepherd  in the area of the Apuan Alps.

De Sarto himself for many years worked as a carpenter, until he could get a job at the Ferrovia marmifera di Carrara, the railroad built between 1876 and 1890, that was used to transport marble blocks from the mountains of the Apuan Alps to the the Mediterranean sea nearby the community of Carrara, a 22-kilometer track that ran over many bridges. It was disbanded in 1964.

this picture and the next five 
courtesy of Isabella.m (Flickr)

In the 1970's, when de Sarto was in his mid forties, without any artistic training he became active as a sculptor, first in the field of woodworking, later in making sculptures, mainly using the the blocks of white marble that he previously transported by train and which made Carrara so famous. 

He had his workshop and living house along  the aforementioned Strada Comunale Carriona di Colonnato and gradually the sides of that street became filled with the many creations he made.

About his way of working he said that he lets the marble speak for itself. When he starts working, he has no models in mind, not even in his imagination, so, as he said: "The figures must appear themselves, as if by magic".

For his sculptures he uses either marble that naturally comes out of the mountain or remnants that remain after the processing of marble blocks..His sculptures often have a historical or biblical background.

A great work with a historical impact is the one called La fontana del sapere (The fountain of knowledge), a combination of well known characters and memorials from the area, such as the locomotives and the route of the marble railway, as well as the work of the miners. 

Started in the 1970's, del Sarto, who currenty is in his nineties but on the video below still has a lively appearance, meanwhile has enriched the place where he lives with hundreds of sculptures, stand alone or united in ensembles. It is one large open air museum.

The area around this site has been hit several times by floods, which in particular have caused damage to the sculptures stored at the rear of del Sarto's workshop. But these natural disasters have not erased the great impression made by the creations that are still on display.

Sculptures by Del Sarto are also found elsewhere in Italy, like there is a work located near the cemetery of San Giuliano in Puglia that evokes the memory of the earthquake in that place in 2002, that killed 27 children in a kindergarten.

* Article (September 2010) by Renato Bruschi in newspaper Toscana Oggi
* Article (June 2015) on the website of Francesco Galli
* Article (undated) on website Corte delle Perle
* Entry (undated) on website Costruttori di Babele
* Entry (undated) by Gabriele Mina on website SPACES

* Video (You Tube, 9'23", October 2018) Mario Del Sarto e la strada d'arte fra le cave (Mario Del Sarto and the art road between the quarries), nr 4 in  a series by Costruttori di Babele (in Italian)

Mario del Sarto
La strada con sculture
locality known as Mortarola
on the road from Bedizzano to Colonnato
near Carrara, Tuscany, Italy
can be seen from the road
streetview 1
streetview 2