Fascinating Fondation Folon!
Although I appreciate art (except bricks, beds, blobs and other silly cons) I don’t always like it.
I went to the DaVinci Exhibition in London, and I stared, fascinated, at his paintings. The guy was an absolute genius. But I wouldn’t want The Last Supper hanging on my wall. It’s not very pretty!
Banksy’s great. The Old Masters took months to finish their work, but Banksy does his grafitti art in minutes and then legs it before anyone spots him.
While I was in Belgium I was taken to the Folon Foundation. It’s tucked away in the farm stables of an old chateau.
In the courtyard there’s a bronze statue of a thin man with a big hat on and no arms. I was unimpressed.
Although there’s a permanent exhibition there, this is an additional exhibition for the 15th anniversary of the Imaginary Travel Agency. They use some of Folon’s art as their logos.
We climbed the stairs, passing a huge poster of Folon when he was young. Cor, he was good-looking! He was posing with his hair flopping over his forehead, and looking very French/Belgian.
Jean-Michel Folon (1 March 1934 – 20 October 2005) was a Belgian artist, illustrator, painter, and sculptor. Folon was born in Uccle,Brussels, Belgium in 1934 where he studied architecture at the Institut Saint-Luc. In 1955 he settled in the outskirts of Paris. In 1985 he moved to Monaco. In the 1990s, Folon decided to create a foundation in the Solvay Domain, La Hulpe.
The first exhibition of his watercolors was in New York in 1969 in the Lefebre Gallery. One year later he exhibited in Tokyo and in the Il Milione gallery in Milan. He also participated in the XXVth Venice Biennale. In 1973 he joined the selection of Belgian artists in the XXVthSão Paulo Biennale, where he was granted the Grand Prize in Painting. Over the years his work concentrated on different techniques, including watercolor, etching, silkscreen, illustrations, mosaics, and stained glass, which showed the diversity of his art. His work Ein Baum stirbt – Un albero muore, 1974, is by Museo Cantonale d’Arte of Lugano. He also designed numerous posters, often for humanitarian causes. Around 1988 he created his first sculptures made out of wood. He then moved on to creating sculptures in clay, plaster, bronze and marble, while continuing to paint.
As well as illustrations for the New York Times and other magazines, Folon designed many posters for Greenpeace and Amnesty International.
Folon married twice. He died in Monaco of leukemia. But he was involved in the setting up of the Fondation in October 2000.
I stepped into the room displaying some of his drawings, and I was instantly converted!
Right in the doorway was an old hat; yes, just a hat. It had two airholes and a clip which resembled a face. Folon had added a slosh of paint to enhance the effect.
His drawings are quite child-like at first glance, but when you look more closely you realise how clever they are.
Then you round a corner and come to a mock-up of his workshop. It’s a mish-mash of shelves, ladders, unfinished work, another thin man with a fork for a head and a video of him talking about himself.
He’d aged well, but lost his boyish good looks.
When his wife was asked to supply some of his work for the exhibition, she discovered loads of his things stuffed in cupboards and drawers that she’d never seen before.
Through a door further on is one of his thin men in a sitting position on some sand with a film of the sea in front of him on the wall. That’s it, just a man on sand and a video. But it’s good! Why? Don’t ask me. I liked it, but I’m not an expert!
Onwards through the next door, the room is domed, with black walls covered in tiny lights.
Suddenly the lights got brighter and changed colours and the little man peered down at me. Then he slowly lifted himself up in a handstand, twirled round, held on with one hand and lowered himself to a standing position again.
While this was going on, a lovely haunting tune played, a bit like Bright Eyes.
I sat on the ground and watched.
Now, I’m not a Zen/Karma or whatever it’s called type of person. I find it hard to sit still for long, but I could have sat there for hours, listening to the music, watching a little model of a man on top of a ladder performing acrobatics. I found it quite hypnotic.
Then my friends caught up with me and one of them said, ‘Ooh look, he’s on the Naughty Step!’
Yes it was funny, but it completely killed the calming effect!
We walked through another door which led into the gift shop and outside into the courtyard.
And guess what, Dear Readers? Now I actually loved the bronze statue of the armless man!
You can stroll through the landscaped grounds, and the chateau is available for hire for weddings and parties.
Press & PR Manager
Belgian Tourist Office- Brussels & Wallonia
217 Marsh Wall, London E14 9FJ
Tel : +44 (0) 20 7531 0392