September 15, 2023

François Llopis, Décorations autour de la maison et le long de l'allée / Decorations around the house and along the driveway

pictures courtesy of Sophie Lepetit, from her weblog

The image above shows a house with a variety of decorations, located in Céret, a municipality with about 7,700 inhabitants in the far south-east of France, bordering Spain.

Life and works

This house and all decorations were handmade by Francois Llopis (1928-2013), who was born in Céret in a poor family.

In 1942, 14-year-old, he traveled to a farm in Corréze, where he worked to replace the usual manpower that was called up for military service because of the Second World War that raged in those years.

His later passion for making sculptures took shape here, when he started carving pieces of wood with a pocket knife.

At the age of 17, having become a quite confident personality, he returned to Céret, where he would live for the rest of his life. 

He became a bricklayer, working from his own company. He married and had three daughters. 

In 1962, when he was in his early thirties, he single-handedly built his house, like he also designed a sloping driveway surrounded by walls, with which one could reach the front and side yard of the house.

As the image above and the two below show, these walls were colorfully decorated with floral motifs and human faces, among other elements. In the image above, what stands out is the elongated, connected series of colorful landscape-like images.
The very first image shows that the part of the wall closest to the house has a special decoration, consisting of semi-circular arches between structures of stacked stones.

The following series of images gives some impression of the decorations in the garden in front of and aside from his house, a collection of creations on which Llopis spent all his free time for many years. 

Although he made many sculptures, the appearance of the front yard is not that of a sculpture garden, because the sculptures are often situated in specific built structures.

Llopis collected the various materials, such as stones, pieces of wood, blocks of marble or granite, in the rich nature that surrounds his hometown.

His sculptures quite often show a human figure, usually in a stylized pose, as can be clearly seen in the images below.

It has been said that Llopis's work seems inspired by the statues on Easter Island, but it is much more likely that he was guided by his own feeling about what lay hidden in the material he collected on a mountain or near a river.

This is also evident from the image below, in which the sculptures are positioned or connected to a structure that in itself has great expressive power. 

This means that Llopis' art environment is not a collection of a number of isolated, specific creations, but a whole of creations of all kinds characterized by mutual coherence. based upon an imagination stemming from a form of collective unconscious, finding gestures and forms common to the primitive arts of multiple cultures, as remarked in the text accompanying Jielka's photo series (see documentation).

This publication also shows some drawings that Llopis started making when he didn't have enough energy anymore to construct creations for his art environment.

François Llopis died on August 17, 2013. 

As Google Streetview shows (July 2022), a large part of the decorations is still present and the house and its surroundings look well maintained.

* Entry (October 2018) on the weblog of Sophie Lepetit, with a variety of photos
Article (2018) by Jo Farb Hernández on the website Spaces Archives
* Entry on the weblog Les photos de Jielka with photos of a number of Llopis' smaller sculptures presented on an exposition in the Museum of Céret (December 2013) 
* Article (October 2013) in newspaper l'Independant announcing the upcoming publication of a book about Llopis entitled: François Llopis - Aux sources de l'art, written by Yves Duchâteau and Nello Stevanin

François Llopis

65 Avenue du Ventous Céret, dept Pyrénées-Orientales, region Occitanie, France

can be seen from the street

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