December 11, 2008

Chomo, Le village d´art préludien/The village of preludian art



the text on this picture¹ reads 
"I am the fool of the woods, 
a man is not intelligent because he is cultivated"

Although Chomo had a formal training in art schools, he would not actively participate in the regular world of art and in the 1960's he somehow retreated from society too, when he permanently went to live on a plot in the woods of Fontainebleau, south of Paris.

Generally speaking, the interest in his work has mainly come from those interested in outsider art. 

Life and works

Chomo, as he called himself, was born as Roger Chomeaux on January 28, 1907, in the community of Berlaimont in the north of France. As a young man he already had a passion for art and so he went to an art school in Valenciennes (1921-1925) and to l´École des Beaux Arts in Paris (1926-1928),

In the 1930's he had a job as a decorator of carpets.  During World War II for some years he was deported to Poland. Back in France he probably had the same kind of job, but he was also active in making art (gouaches, ceramics, experiments with film). In the summer months Chomo and his family would reside in kind of a summerhouse on a plot of land the family owned in
Achères la Forêt, in the woods south of Paris.

In 1960 Chomo had an exposition in a art gallery in Paris (Jean Camion, Rue des Beaux Arts). It was a great succes, especially in circles of surrealists. However,  Chomo did not agree in selling the most important and expensive works.

In the next years he began transforming the area around the summerhouse in Achères into an art environment, making a variety of constructions and buildings by recuperating all kinds of materials like plastics, old wood and dead trees.

l'Église des Pauvres
above picture and the next two (may 2014) 
 courtesy of Raija Kallioinen 


These constructions got names such as l´Église des Pauvres (the Church of the Poor), le Sanctuaire des Bois Brûlés (The Shrine of Burned Woods) and le Refuge (the Shelter). Inside Chomo would store and expose his smaller creations.

From the mid 1960's on Chomo resided permanently in the woods amidst his artwork, actively engaged in a variety of artistic projects, like painting and sculpting, making carpets, but also writing poems, making music and recording movies.


the cabin where Chomo lived

Chomo did not consider himself as an outsider or art brut artist, but said he made art préludien (preludian art, his art and way of life as an ecologist avant la lettre being a prelude to the world to come).

Chomo declined to participate in expositions, probably with the exception of a special one, organized in his honour in 1991 (jan 19 - febr 3) by a group of friends. This expo took place in the community of Milly-la-Forêt, not far from where Chomo had his site.

Already during his life Chomo's artistic work was admired by a number of other artists and by art lovers, mainly those interested in outsider art. In the 1970's, 80's and 90's visitors would come along to see his creations. They were welcome on saturdays and sundays.

Chomo died in june 1999.

Exposition in Paris (2009-2010)

In 2009 it was ten years ago that Chomo died. In his honour from sept. 2009 untill march 2010 the Halle Saint Pierre, Paris, dedicated him an exposition.

The expo was introduced by one of its curators, Laurent Danchin, who explained that in his opinion Chomo does not belong to the realm of those who created outsider art, but should be appreciated as an artist who has a place in the history of great french art (art savant). French cultural authorities should devote a museum to him. (See OEE-texts for the english translation of Laurent Danchin's introduction to the exposition).

Laurent Danchin (1946-2017), who was a well known as a writer about (outsider) art, around 1975 began to visit Chomo weekly and they became friends. In an article in the french magazine La Grappe (nr 74, jan 2009) Danchin looked back on this relation. The text was republished in july 2016 as a note on Facebook.

Actual situation/action to save the site

The site as such currently still exists, that is to say: the builded structures are still extant. Chomo's sculptures, paintings and other smaller creations have been removed and are stored in a safe shelter.

In 2015 Laurent Danchin and friends initiated a project to raise money to take measures to protect the builded structures from decay. A first stage was carried out in the summer of that year.

On october 3, 2015 an open day was organized to present the site to those interested in the developments. On below video (subtitled in english) Laurent Danchin welcomes the visitors


Preparations are underway to formalize an association of friends of Chomo.

Started june 2015 a page on Facebook entitled Sauvegarde du Village d'Art Préludien de Chomo (Saving Chomo's Village of Preludian Art) reports about the developments.

Exposition 2015/2016

From december 5 2015 until february 14 2016 the exposition Faites un rêve avec Chomo !  (Dream along with Chomo !) could be seen in the Castle in the city of Tours (France).


Different from the previous one in Paris (2009-2010), which focussed upon his oeuvre, the new exposition deals with Chomo's artistic development, his character, his various artistic activities and the campaign of the association of friends to protect Chomo's most beautiful creation Le Refuge.

The video below has an impression of the exposition.


Some more documentation
* Roger Chomeaux, CHOMO, Ed. Jean-Claude Simoën, 1978 (statements by Chomo, penned by Laurent Danchin; this publication is also known by its subtitle that appears on the interior: CHOMO, un pavé dans la vase intellectuelle)
*Website (in french) entirely devoted to Chomo, with a biography, a list of video's, picture galeries and a number of texts about the artist 
* On Flickr some 40 pictures of the site (presented by Halle Saint Pierre, Paris)



* Le fou est au bout de la flèche (1978), documentary film by Claude and Clovis Prévost. The video below presents a brief summary of this film (2'27", Youtube, uploaded jan 2010)


* Chomo, le débarquement spirituel- images de lumière (the spiritual landing - images of light). This film is a compilation of 15 hours of film, shot between 1987 and 1990 by Chomo with the assistance of  Clovis and Claude Prévost. A short fragment on Youtube (1'46"):



note
¹  the picture which can be found in various versions on the internet actually is the front cover of the book edited by Laurent Danchin, published in 1978 and entitled Roger Chomeaux, CHOMO (see documentation)

first published dec 2008, revised oct 2009, may dec 2010, may 2011, may aug 2012, july 2014, aug nov dec 2015, jun 2016, feb 2017

Chomo
le Village d´Art Préludien
77116 Achères la Foret, France
site as such still exists, protective measures are taken,
but the site is not open to the public

2 comments:

  1. Personal account (in Dutch) of the visit to le Village d'Art Préludien on October 3rd, 2015 with some pictures.
    Persoonlijk verslag van een bezoek aan le Village d'Art Préludien op 3 oktober 2015 met enkele foto's.
    http://hetleveniseindig.nl/2015/10/10/chomo/

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