January 28, 2022

Fabrice and Marylise Klisowska, Curieux Jardin / Curious Garden


all pictures from the Facebook-page of the site

Fresnay-les-Chaumes is a small community in France of less than 60 inhabitants (2015), located 75 km south of Paris. In a side street at the eastern end of the departmental road D927 that runs through the village, one of the most remarkable art environments in France is located.

A curious garden

This art environment, named Curious Garden, was created from the mid 1990s by Fabrice Klisowska, together with his wife Marylise. 

Fabrice, born in the early 1950s, had a job at the Directorate of Equipment of the Loiret department and he is now retired. Marylise is in particular involved in a company that rents clothing, the association Croisade et animation (Crusade and animation) The company was founded by the couple in the 1990s and is located in their home, that has a basement with some 5000 clothes and disguises.


The front of the house is along the rue de Paradis and its right-hand side is adjacent to a parking space, meaning that the garden, seen from the outside, manifests itself both to the front and to the side. The part of the garden on the side extends far to the rear.

Those interested in visiting the garden are greeted with the sign shown above, on which Fabrice clearly explains what can be seen and experienced in the 1000 m² space that comprises the garden.

The text reads as follows: 

Enter this atypical space; that of passion, to discover the originality of a work that is offered to you. Not necessarily pretty, this garden seeks to surprise you by exploiting every nook and cranny to awaken your moods of  "fear, joy, astonishment".
This curious garden is the witness of a generation that is leaving, with glazing already forgotten, and for that, we have used a whole recycling of materials and objects that team up to create scenes (the revolution, Noah's ark, etc.). Each character has his reason for being.
The garden also exhibits by Facebook, "curious garden" and maybe thanks to you, if you make it known.
HAVE A GOOD VISIT 

Over the years, the garden has grown into an extensive art environment, now characterized by a large number of sculptural representations of all kinds of personalities (currently some 350), some specific scenes (such as a ship, a cafe, a puppet theater), all kinds of textual accompaniment and a decorative flora of about fifty different types of flowers.

Hundreds of personalities

An important factor in the development of the decorated garden has been that in 1990 the couple received mask supports from the Saumur-based company Cesar, which specializes in making beautiful disguises. 

This allows Klisowska to shape the facial expressions of the personalities displayed in the garden.


As above image shows, the sculptures of the persons are loosely arranged along the paths, often in the exuberant greenery and flower arrangement that adorns the garden. 

Their faces are shaped by the mask they wear,  but the facial expression can be quite realistic, as can be seen in the image above where Donald Trump greets visitors

The hundreds of characters are dressed in a manner befitting their capacity, a toga, a uniform or some form of everyday attire.

The images around give some impression of what the sculptures look like when viewed up close.

Left above 
- a policeman, the guarantor of the curious garden
- in the middle a a representative of the French judiciary
- and on the right a sculpture expressing that in the curious garden old age is not a weakness.

Below left
- a sculpture of Marianne, a symbolic character referring to France as a nation after the overthrow of the monarchy in 1789, erected here because of the November 2015 attacks in Paris
- in the middle a depiction of Alain, who once again announces that old age is not a weakness in this garden 
- and at the right a depiction of François Mitterrand, deceased on January 8, 1996, who is concerned about the position of his party ("wiped out" according to the sculpture comment).

The site also features a number of sculptures of government leaders, such as de GaulleSarkozy and Mitterand from France, Bush, Obama and the Clintons from the United States and Yeltsin from Russia.

Then there are pop stars such as Madonna or Whoopi Goldberg and actors such as Charlie Chaplin and the in France famous stage comedian and cinema actor Coluche, who is pictured below sitting on the remains of his motorcycle.

Coluche

A few times, the exhibition of a person led to problems with spectators, as happened for example with the American film and TV actor Mister T, who hanging from the facade, for the taste of some people showed too liberally intimate parts. 

This was often solved with the intervention of a mediator, or even a police officer. Klisowska has said that this is the price to pay for originality. Today, with regard to such matters, the situation around the site is calm. However, part of the site was recently vandalized.

Some scenes included in the garden

The garden also houses a number of scenes, formed by a set in which a group of people depict a situation or an event, which may or may not be realistic. 

Here are some examples of such scenes.


The above scene is situated on the roof of a shed in the garden. It shows the moon being picked up by the Curious Garden, this with the intention to set up creations there. 

A non-realistic, but funny event indeed.


And then, pictured above is a realistic situation, the terrace of a café, with visitors clearly having a good time there. 

Cheers ! There is still one seat available....


Noah's Ark, depicted above, is partially buried in the ground and equipped with oars. At the back of the boat is a person in a yellow jacket at the helm. A little further back is someone who is angling a raised rod.

There are no animal depictions to be seen, except near the fore-deck where there is a sculpture of a fish leaping out of the water.


The marionette theatre, pictured above, can also be considered a scene. Presented as a THÉATRE, École de marionnettes (Theater, school for puppets) it is indeed all about a puppet show.

The front actor wears a mouth cap, which refers to the troublesome times with lock-downs and other restrictive measures France and most other countries experienced from early 2020 until today (early 2022). 

The garden is dotted with all kinds of texts

All over the garden texts are placed, on billboards, on placards on the paths, as exclamations of a person as in a comic book. Other sites may show some explanatory information, but not to the extent and certainly not as bold or challenging as in the Curieux Jardin

Just a few examples: 


- A first example is the gardener above left, photographed in September 2021. 

Equipped with a body made from large pieces of plastic cutlery, he shows a bucket in which visitors can deposit waste and a cart with a text that reads: My garden repels evil spells. Maybe it needs sponsors. Its tributes deserve a better salvation, will considering the transmanual be able to save him from a cruel end?

On Facebook, where the picture is published, there is a comment on the suggestion to consider the transmural (that is: initiate changes), saying: To transform time, to re-animate is for the Curious Garden a story of yesteryear.....

- The other example is the man with a suitcase, top right. 

This suitcase has on its outside a description of what's inside, such as (briefly) a pajama set, a book even though he can't see anything, a pack of cigarettes even though there is no smoking down there, stationery for dire news, a bottle of perfume which he will need .....

Freely translated the enumeration ends with  I took life. My pancreatic cancer won't heal. Goodbye my love, goodbye.

To conclude

All things considered, it can be concluded that the Curieux Garden provides a candid, sometimes challenging picture of the developments of Western society in the decades from the illustrious 1960s to the early decennials of the 21st century. 

This is mainly done by presenting a large variety of specific characters, that mark a political, cultural or other social development or situation,  all this supported with a large number of explanatory or commentary text boards.

In addition, it seems that behind the entirety of presentations lies the idea that the generation of the 1960s has had its day. The garden just looks back, not forward. Belonging to that generation myself, I think that's a good approach.

To my knowledge there is no other site in the field of art environments in Europe that manifests itself in this way. The garden is not only curious, it is also unique.

Documentation
* Facebook account of the Curieux Jardin
* Article (May 2015) in regional newspaper La République du Centre
* Another article (March 2017) in regional newspaper La République du Centre

Video
* The video, from Facebook, shows the garden's planting spraying



Fabrice and Marylise Klisowska
Curieux Jardin
11 rue de Paradis
Fresnay-les-Chaumes, dept Loiret, region Centre-Val de Loire, France
visitors welcome
can be visited freely

January 21, 2022

Atom Grigoryan, Коллекция реплик знаменитых башен / A collection of replicas of famous towers

Kopieën van architectonische meesterwerken van de wereld zijn het hoogtepunt van het achterland van Vologda geworden.  Foto: persdienst van de administratie van het Vologda-district van de regio Vologda
picture by the press service
of the administration of the Vologda district

The highway A-119 from Moscow to the north of Russia crosses the Vologda region and in this area, about 560 km north of Moscow, near the village of Nefedova, there is an art environment along the highway that manifests itself as a row of more than man-sized replicas of famous towers.

Life and works

This arrangement of towers was created by the businessman Atom Grigoryan, who lives in Nefedova and for some years has been running a cafe along the A-119 highway near the village.

Wanting to make the area around the cafe attractive to passing tourist travelers and long-distance truck drivers, Grigoryan made plans to expand the site with an electric car charging station, a hotel and a variety of attractive features, including a series of towers. 

He had borrowed the idea of erecting towers from a cafe in a nearby region, which was decorated by a small version of the Eiffel tower.

this colored picture and the next ones from website Tutu Art 2021,
that reports about a competition among non-professional
artists organised by the Tutu travel organisation

Grigoryan had experience in the field of construction and was not afraid to take on the creation of the towers himself, and this in a more than man-sized version. 

His first tower, constructed in a workshop on the cafe's grounds, was a replica of the Eiffel-tower, a 17.5 meter tall construction made of scraps of surplus iron that he could get virtually for free from nearby farms.

Then, using an old chimney as a base, Grigoryan made a replica with a height of 7 meters of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, which became 55 meters high. The replica's angle of heel corresponds to the one in Pisa, i.e. 3,54 degrees.

The pictures below left and right, from News Vo newspaper, made in January 2019, give an impression of these two towers in wintertime.


Then Grigoryan built a tower representing Russia, namely the tower in Ostankino, the Moscow radio and TV tower, 540 m high, built between 1967-1974, once the tallest in the world, now the tallest in Europe.

In 2019, the first three replicas were ready, Eiffel Tower, Tower of Pisa and Ostankino Tower.

Then, between the Tower of Pisa and the Eiffel Tower a replica of London's Big Ben was added.. 

The arrangement was completed by two high rising and slender looking creations: 

- A replica of the Canton Tower in China, also known as the Guangzhou TV astronomical and sightseeing Towera landmark with a height of 604 meters. It was constructed from 2005 till 2009, and became operational in 2010. The replica is about 22 meter high.

- And a replica of a tower from he Arab world, he Burj Khalifa, a tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, built between 2004 and 2010, which is 828 meters high in reality and 23 meters in replica.

The photo below shows the six replicas, as arranged in line

After the towers were completed, Grigoryan set to work building a hotel, which is shaped like Noah's ark, as it is believed to have looked. In the area around the hotel there is also a mini-mountain of Ararat, where it is said that the ark fell dry. 

Another idea is to add replicas of the Egyptian pyramids.

Furthermore, Grigoryan has plans to brighten up the space around the former café with many shrubs and other green areas.

All Grigoryan's activities are aimed at transforming the site of approximately one hectare near the former cafe into an attractive place for motorists and, if all plans succeed, perhaps also into an amusement park for tourists.

The arrangement of replicas was selected in 2021 to participate in a Most Valued Non-Professional Creation competition organised by Tutu, a Russian travel organisation.

Documentation
* Article (November 2011) in regional newspaper News Vo
* Article (November 2021) in newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta (Vologda region)

Atom Grigoryan
Replicas of famous towers
along the A-119 near the village of 
Nefedova, Vologda region, Russia
visitors welcome 

January 14, 2022

Jean-Paul Baudoin, Maison décorée / Decorated house

pictures courtesy of Sophie Lepetit, from her weblog

Trentemoult is a small commune in France, located along the left bank of the Loire River, near the city of Nantes, which lies on the right bank. In a street in Trentemoult there is a house that has an exterior that is decorated with a variety of frescoes and sculptures.

Life and works

These decorations were added by Jean-Paul Baudoin, who lives in the house and has his workshop there.


Life and works

Baudoin was born in 1946. His father was a butcher who ran a shop on Place Delorme in Nantes, France.

After completing his primary education, Jean-Paul went to work in his father's business. He did so, although from a young age his heart went out to drawing and painting. Being active artistically was therefore an activity for the evening hours.



It is not known how long Baudoin combined his daily work in the butcher's shop and his evening creative activities, but at some point there was an intervention by a cousin who urged him to follow his heart, so actually entering the world of art and becoming a practicing artist.

Baudoin followed suit and probably in the late 1970s/early 1980s he began to manifest himself as a sculptor, painter and artisan potter.


As a potter, a craft he still practices, Baudoin focused on a style of work known as Old Quimper, creations of vases, cups and saucers decorated with hand-painted characters ("petit Bretons") in a style strongly influenced by traditional Brittany.

By working as potter he rediscovered the nature and meaning of the creative process: an  activity through which a living form springs from formless, inert clay.


 









In his fist period as an artist Baudoin also began making metal sculptures composed from pieces of iron or old tools welded together and finished with a cover in bright colors.

In 1987, when he was in his early 40s, the first exhibition of his artistic work took place from his home in Trentemoult.

From 1991 Baudoin also began making colorful images on cardboard and recycled paper, evoking, for example, a whole world dedicated to pagan female deities, such as Isis and Ishtar, but also fairies, mermaids and the heroes of the Arthurian legend.

Perhaps the early 1990s were also the time when he started to decorate the outside walls of his house (sources on the internet are inconclusive), because among the images several are dedicated to goddesses. 

These goddesses appear in the midst of an extensive arrangement of all kinds of colorful, mostly small-scale characters, captured in sculptures or frescoes. With his sometimes magical and kabbalistic-looking images, Baudoin is an artist who expresses the unusual in forms that nevertheless feel familiar.


Documentation

* Article (January 2022) on the weblog of Sophie Lepetit, with a variety of pictures

* Photographs (January 2019) by Corinne Grassy Photography on Facebook

* Photographs and article (October 2011) by Claude Joannis on Flickr


Jean-Paul Baudoin

rue des 7 Maries

Trentemoult. Rezé, dept Loire-Atlantique, region Pays de la Loire, France

can be seen from the street

streetview

January 06, 2022

Ivan Pisarenko, Реплики кремлевской классики / Replicas of Kremlin classics

this picture and the next one: screenprints
from the video below

Khabarovsk is a large city in the Far East of the Russian Federation, located at the confluence of the Amur and Ussuri Rivers, near Russia's border with China.

In a street in a suburb of the city, a scene like the one pictured above can be seen from the street. An outer part of a house is decorated with replicas of buildings.

Life and works

About Ivan Pisarenko, the self-taught artist who made these creations, not much biographical information is available. He was probably born in the 1950s, had a job as a carpenter and apparently possessed rather good technical skills, because he had a workshop with professional technical equipment, such as a lathe. 

Once retired he got the idea to use his skill and equipment to make replicas of famous buildings in Moscow's Kremlin.

Pisarenko and a reporter  on the roof, 
looking at the Spasskaya tower
 
The Spasskaya Tower

His first creation was a replica of the 71 meter high Spasskaya Tower (Tower of the Savior), the main tower on the eastern wall of the Kremlin, built in 1491.

A comparison of the Wikipedia image of the tower -after its restoration in 2015- with the images of the tower in this blog, shows that the Pisarenko replica is very similar.


This is also demonstrated in the two images above, from the website Tutu Art 2021¹, that show how accurately Pisarenko has shaped the various decorative elements that adorn the tower.

The same goes for the large clock, which is characteristic of this building. In ancient times the clock of the Spasskaya Tower was the leading clock: its display of the time was fol owed by  all other clocks in Moscow.

The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed

The Cathedral of Vasily the Blessed, commonly known as Saint Basil's Cathedral, is also located in Moscow's Red Square. Built from 1555-1561 it was originally an orthodox church, now it is a museum,

this picture from the video below,
the next three from the Tutu Art 2021 website ¹ 
 
This was Pisarenko's second project, and it took him six months to complete it. 

The cathedral is made of plywood and polycarbonate, a virtually unbreakable type of plastic that can withstand both high and low temperatures.

The patterns on the domes are made from bits of colored tubes and bits of plastic, which he cut from some thirty plastic buckets. It was quite a task to visit so many hardware stores to find buckets in the right color.  



As the large image above in the middle shows, this replica is situated on the roof of the gazebo in the garden. A special facility allows the cathedral to rotate, a gesture for passers-by who can now see the replica from all sides.

And when it is dark, the creation will also be lit up.


Pisarenko's art environment was selected in 2021 to participate in a Most Valued Non-Professional Creation competition organised by Tutu, a Russian travel organisation

Documentation
* Article (2021) and pictures on the website Tutu Art
* Article (November 2021) on the website Amur Media
* Article and video (2017) on the website of Vesti-Khabarovsk

Video
* Video (undated) by Vesti Khabarovk (YouTube, 2'11")

 

note
¹ the website Tutu Art 2021reports about a competition among non-professional artists organised by the Tutu travel organisation

Ivan Pisarenko
Replicas of Kremlin classics

Khabarovsk, Far Eastern Federal District, Russian Federation

can be seen from the street

December 30, 2021

Galina Ivanova, Дом украшен капсулами / House decorated with bottle caps

pictures from website Tutu Art 2021, that reports about a 
competition among non-professional artists
organised by the Tutu travel organisation

Markovo is a village with about 750 inhabitants (in 2010), located in the Republic of Mari El, part of the Russian Federation, about 800 km east of Moscow. The elongated village consists of a number of houses, located to the left and right of a main road.

A self-decorated house

One of these houses attracts attention because of the colorful decorations that adorn the outside, a project undertaken in 2015 by Galina Ivanova, who lives in this house, 


Not much biographical information about Galina is available on the internet. 

It is mentioned that she is retired, and there is a second fact, very interesting from an art environments point of view: she is related to Tatyana Mikheeva, who is her aunt and who was presented earlier in this blog as creator of a house decorated with bottle caps.

Galina visited Tatyana in the early 2010s and she was apparently inspired by Tatyana's artistic creation, because when she was back in Markovo she decided to decorate her own house in the same way.













Galina started decorating her own house in 2015, the first subject being the image of a dog, placed on the right of the two windows of the house on the side of the road. 

After that, all kinds of images followed, such as swans, a horse, a butterfly, a rooster and also a variety of decorative patterns, all added to the exterior walls of the house. 

Meanwhile, the front and side walls have been fully decorated. and now a decoration has also appeared on the fence that separates the area next to the house from the street, a fence that offers space for more decorations.


Both Galina Ivanova's and Tatyana Mikheeva's site were selected in 2021 to participate in a Most Valued Non-Professional Creation competition organised by Tutu, a Russian travel organisation.

Documentation
* Entry on the website Tutu Art 2021, with a series of pictures
* Short article (November 2021), mainly mentioning the Tutu competition, on website VNB
* Short article (April 2019) on the website of newspaper Seldon News

Galina Ivanova
House decorated with bottle caps
Village of Markovo, Orsha district, Republic of Mari El, Russia
can be seen from the street

December 23, 2021

Alexander Nemo, Замки, построенные вручную / Hand-built castles


this picture and the next two: screenprints from the 
video by Yakov Shtopor (see documentation)

This post is about a self-taught Russian artist, who focused on building castles. In this post, two of his works, set in different locations in Russia, are presented in full. The other creations he made, are mentioned briefly, because there is currently too little information available.

Life and works 

Alexander Nemo, who used this name as a pseudonym, grew up in Yekaterinburg. After secondary school he went to the Higher Military School in Riga, specializing in aviation engineering. 

This school in Riga had classrooms in the towers of an old medieval castle, an architecture that made a great impression on the young Nemo and instilled in him a love for the Middle Ages.

Nemo served in the army as an officer, in various places of the USSR, but left this job to become a forensic expert at Yekaterinburg's police force, an appointment he most likely retired from at age 45.

In the early 1990s he acquired a plot of land in Yekaterinburg where he built a house with a curious architecture, probably referring to a castle, that did not comply with the official regulations. Rather than spending money to adapt the house, he sold it, and -meanwhile retired- made a trip around Europe from the money. 

Although he had initially considered this, he did not settle somewhere in Western Europe, because he did not like the over-polished approach to medieval buildings. in the Western world.



A castle in the woods near Yekaterinburg

Once back, he decided to build a shelter in the forest and continue his life there, in particular to test his own strength in taking distance from civilization. That happened around the year 2000.

Nemo did indeed succeed in continuing life in this way.  

On a forest plot he did not own, using stones, clay and wood available around, he constructed a building, kind of a castle, with three floors, towers and turrets, transitional galleries and bridges. It had terraces and various interior rooms, such as a bedroom, a sauna, a workshop and a library.

The castle could be heated with a wood stove. There was obviously no electricity, but Nemo had rechargeable batteries working on solar cells, so he even had access to the internet.

Nemo stressed that his building was a castle and not a fortress. He had improvised kind of a cannon that could fire fireworks and ward off strangers, but above all had a decorative function.


The newspaper articles published in the autumn of 2009, report that around that time the owner of the plot of forest had claimed his property and that Nemo had indicated he would leave. He said that he would find a new home, this time a cave in an area further away from the urban civilization.

Nemo's castle in the woods meanwhile has been destroyed by young hooligans from the area.

The castle in Politodel

Nemo's next site was not a cave, but the grounds of a holiday park in Politodel, 50 km north of Omsk in the Asiatic part of Russia ¹.

this picture and the next  six from website Tutu Art 2021,
that reports about a competition among non-professional
artists organised by the Tutu travel organisation

In Politodel his lust for building once more took shape after he and the holiday park made an agreement about the construction of a castle on the grounds of the resort. 

Nemo asked no salary, but was content with board and lodging.


The exterior of the castle

In 2010, Alexander Nemo set to work on the resort's grounds and the accompanying images show a result that stands out indeed.

Visitors now see a castle with an architecture very similar to that of medieval buildings. There is a two-storey towery structure that protects the main entrance to the castle, in architectural terms a barbican. This building also serves as Nemo's summer residence. 

There is a moat with a bridge over it. And there's the castle itself, which looks like a large fortress with seemingly impenetrable fortress walls.


To build the castle, waste was used such as can be found in the landfill, especially bricks from demolished buildings, parts of old pipes, old metal plates, and the like.

The inside of the structure consists of a large wooden infrastructure against which the exterior walls are laid. The remaining space between the frame and the outer wall is filled with cement mortar. 

The wooden infrastructure is set up in such a way that it also includes the interior design, such as stairwells, corridors and rooms, and even an internal balcony, as can be seen in the image at the bottom of this article.

The building process did not proceed according to a pre-established schedule, as Nemo explained in an interview: 

My construction technique is associative. Like a tree grows. Does a tree grow according to a plan? As a tree grows, so does the castle. I don't know what tomorrow will be. Every day can be different.. Built, rebuilt. Extended-narrowed. Here I broke something down, there I made it again. I do what comes to my mind


The interior

Nemo also put a lot of effort into the decoration of the interior. 

The ground floor of the castle has no windows, which means there is little light and one feels like in the twilight of the Middle Ages. The upper floor of the castle has many windows and is a lot lighter.

At the very top of the castle there is a throne room, with indeed a throne, but also a small organ, built by hand by Nemo. He taught himself to play the piano and the guitar, just because he liked it.



Nemo also made all kinds of weapons from scrap, such as swords, epees, sabers, pistols, halberds and crossbows. These weapons, indistinguishable from real ones, hang on the walls, and are sometimes used in a playful way.

He also makes knight armor and historical costumes. which he wears himself or are shown on mannequins.

The castle is protected by two cannons placed in front of an embrasure. Handcrafted from cartwheels and pipes, they face the river Irtysh in case enemy ships approach, which then can be repelled with fireworks.

 picture: screenprint from the NGS55 video below

Nemo's Castle in Politodel was selected in 2021 to participate in a Most Valued Non-Professional Creation competition organised by Tutu, a Russian travel organisation.

Documentation
- about the site in the woods near Yekaterinburg
Article (October 2009) on news website e1.ru
Article by olgavch (October 2009) on LiveJournal
- about the castle on the grounds of Politodel
* Entry (April 2021) on the website Tutu Art 
Article (September 2019) on the website of newspaper NGS55, with a series of photos
* Article (October 2019) on the website of newspaper 1-12-kanal-ru, with a video 
* Article (April 2019) on the website of newspaper RGRU

Videos
- about the site in the woods near Yekaterinburg

* Video by Yakov Shtopor (2'47", YouTube, uploaded April 2012)

 (

- about the site on the grounds of Politodel

Video by newspaper NGS55  (YouTube, September 2019, 1'17")


* Video by Realii (April 2019, YouTube, 1'16")



note
 ¹ Characteristic sites in the Asian part of the Russian Federation are included in this weblog in order to give a balanced and coherent picture of the entire field of Russian art environments.

Alexander Nemo
Castle in the forest
in a wooded area between 
Yekaterinburg and Verkhnyaya Pyshmain
Sverdlovsk region, Russia
site demolished
Castle in Politodel
Politodel, Omsk region, Russia
visitors are welcome