November 28, 2008

Pierre Rapeau, le Bois aux Créatures/The wood with creatures


pictures from the website of Yannick Rolandeau 

When young the forest was his habitat and then later in life he began transforming it into an art environment.

Life and works

Pierre Rapeau (1935-2007), a teacher of natural sciences in the Paris region, was born in the Perigord area of France. He had a fond memory of the walks he made with his grandmother in the local forest, collecting mushrooms and herbs, while grandmère told him fables and stories of former times, like grandmothers do.

A self-taught artist, Rapeau made paintings on canvas, but later in his life after a divorce in the 1980's 
he preferred to be on himself with his sorrows and "to use nature as his sketchbook".
 
So he got accustomed to leave in the early morning and visit the forest of his childhood, alone, decorating rocks and tree trunks with paintings, in this way providing these natural items with all kinds of expressions, eyes, faces, regards.....


Rapeau's artwork probably can be seen as a kind of land art, but one could also say he made an art environment, transforming parts of the woods he considered as his habitat, into an ensemble of artworks.

Actual sittuation

Currently (2011) some twenty-five decorated items still are extant. These are cared for by a friend of Pierre Rapeau (according to the weblog Bonheur de lire).



Yannick Rolandeau and Pierre Rapeau

French filmmaker Yannick Rolandeau, impressed by Rapeau's creations, wanted to make a film about the work (the story -in french- is on his website), but Rapeau for a long time declined to co-operate, because he preferred to stay anonymous. When he finally agreed,  Rapeau died before the film could be made.
 

Documentation
* Yannick Rolandeau wrote kind of an In Memoriam for Pierre Rapeau, explaining in this text what kind of documentary he would have liked to shoot about life and works of the artist. 
This text, as published on Rolandeau's website, has been translated into english and republished in  my collection of texts on outsider environments.

* More pictures on Michel Gombart's website and on the website Oui....mais......

Exposition in 2008

Although Pierre Rapeau did not make his creations for a human public, articles about his work have been published and in september 2008 an exposition was held in his honour (la Baudrigie, 23800 Saint Jory de Chalais, Dordogne France).


Pierre Rapeau
le Bois aux Créatures
24300 Abjat sur Bandiat, Périgord, France

the part of the wood with the decorations
the forest is private property, but it is open 

to the public (ask locals)

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