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"Fragiles Giants" in Saint-Paul-de-Vence

From the beginning of the summer until the end of autumn 2022, the village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence will be hosting nine monumental works by Michel BASSOMPIERRE thanks to the Galeries BARTOUX.

Tucked away in the narrow streets of this small Provencal town, bears and gorillas are discovered by tens of thousands of visitors..

A look back at the exhibition / Gaël Arnaud studio.


Conference on the bear

The opening of the exhibition was an opportunity to discuss the theme of the bear with the screening of Rémy Marion's documentary "Les Métamorphoses de l'ours polaire", previously broadcast on Arte.

During the screening, Michel BASSOMPIERRE created a live sculpture.

He also answered a host of questions from the first-year pupils from Saint-Paul-de-Vence: "Have you always done this? What are the tools you use called? Are you going to be making sculptures all your life? Do you only make colossal animals?"

The children chose a name for the polar bear they created on this occasion: after a vote, it will be called "Lucky".

A look at the bear

Following the screening of the documentary, Stéphane DURAND moderated a debate between the sculptor and director Rémy MARION. A biologist and ornithologist, Stéphane DURAND was co-author and scientific adviser to Jacques PERRIN's film adventures. In 2020, he joined Actes Sud after creating the Mondes Sauvages collection. He is responsible for the Science, Nature and Society section.

Extracts from the conference

Michel BASSOMPIERRE: I don't put myself in the animal's shoes, except on the anatomical level sometimes. A sculptor has to be an animal lover, understand the animal, its moods, its ways of existing, you have to understand its anatomy, but in the end, it's the sculptor who has the last word.

Stéphane DURAND: Yet you told me the first time we met that to make a bear, you had to be a bear yourself. So there must be a resonance in your muscles, in your hands, with the shape of the bear?

Michel BASSOMPIERRE: When people ask me why I chose the bear, it's not a fetish. It's an animal whose round shape lends itself to sculpture. Underneath the roundness, underneath the fur, you need to feel a precise anatomical drawing. Otherwise, instead of having a round shape, you get a soft shape. For me, a sculpture isn't something fixed, static or highly symbolic, it's alive.

Stéphane DURAND: Rémy, you have published a book: L'Ours, l'autre de l'Homme published by Actes Sud. You've found this formula among many peoples around the world in the northern hemisphere, where populations have created a special bond with the bear in which they identify.

Rémy MARION: The relationship between bears and humans has been going on for tens of thousands of years. Humans have learned a lot from bears, particularly in terms of eating plants, because we share the same diet. They have in common this fraternity of power, occupation of the territory and feeding.


Opening of the exhibition

The opening took place on the roof of the auditorium, with a breathtaking view over the village.

With the Mayor, Jean-Pierre CAMILLA

In his speech, the Mayor of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, Jean-Pierre CAMILLA, saw the arrival of Michel BASSOMPIERRE's bears and gorillas as part of the village's long artistic tradition, marked in particular by CHAGALL, MATISSE and MIRO.

"It's an honour to have one of the most famous contemporary animal sculptors here with us, and I'm sure that your animals will find a peaceful refuge here.

Beyond the sensitivity of the works, beyond the talent of the artist, who reveals a sharp eye, patience and a unique humility, there is this strong and very topical message. Let's preserve the species that surround us. And who better than the artist to alert us and raise our awareness at a time when global warming is making the headlines. "

From left to right: Stéphane DURAND, Rémy MARION, Charles and Alexandre BARTOUX,

Michel BASSOMPIERRE, Jean-Pierre CAMILLA, Laura and Chloé BARTOUX.

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