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.

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 Mitterrand 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.


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 2022 because of Covid.

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.

* 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

* 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

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