Biennale de Sologne Contemporary Art Embraces Nature In Loire Valley

Far from the frenzy of the Art Fairs and other mainstream art events, I ventured to Sologne to attend the first opening of The Contemporary Art Biennale of Sologne. Two hours south of Paris, by the Loire Valley and its magical castles, La Biennale de Sologne is a perfect getaway during the summer to remind us that Art can be appreciated not only within closed doors, in museum spaces or white cube galleries but in the simplicity of nature as well.

André Maigne is the first artist to open la Biennale de Sologne with his poetic water installation: “Milky way”. 

As Jean de Chatelperron and Virginie Groleau (President and Vice-President of the Biennale) explained to me, the objective is to present contemporary art within the sumptuous green glades and ponds of Sologne. Twenty different sites are open to the public, including private and collectors’ houses – some are castle hideaways that collectors have opened exceptionally to the public for the Biennale.

Historically, Sologne was the hunting ground of the kings of France. It is a man-made piece of land which was originally swamps, earth and water having now been separated. The protected countryside is full of forest habitats of deer, with ponds full of fish. Most of this secretive countryside where trees grow so thick that it is impenetrable, has remained in its original, pre-medieval condition. No wonder that 50 contemporary international artists have been inspired to exhibit there.

There are various generations:  from 20 to 80 years olds, from emerging to established artists working on various medium and presenting multi-disciplinary works from sculptures, installations and performances to paintings and photography … Olivier Coulange’s (Agence VU) black and white photographs depict in a very dreamy, almost psychedelic way, the beautiful wilderness of Sologne.

However, the main focus of the Biennale remains sculptures and landscape installations. The sculpture Garden curated by Matthieu Corradinio based in the charming village of Chaumont-sur-Tharonne and its surroundings, will be open from 5th to 20th September.

Amongst the artists is Vincent Ganivet. I first discovered his incredible monumental concrete sculpture at Palais de Tokyo in 2010 in the very good “Dynasty” exhibition dedicated to new and promising French-based contemporary artists. Influenced by architecture, Ganivet works with construction material and concrete to create contemporary cathedrals, structures on the edge of “accident and equilibrium” with a pinch of humour.

Another “Palais de Tokyo” artist is the Polish-born artist Tatiana Wolska. She works with recycled waste materials: wood, plastic, metals, industrial waste disposed of by companies, where the artist sublimates the simplicity of the materials. In her installations, she creates a dialogue between her organic-looking sculptures and the space.

The Biennale de Sologne has entered into a partnership with the Musée de la Chasse in Paris which will exhibit the artist Lionel Sabatte in October. Sabatte works with found objects, trash, even coins that he slowly and with consistency assembles, engaging the viewer to reflect on time.

The Paris-based China-born artist Xiao Fan Ru who has exhibited internationally is also part of the sculpture Garden exhibition at Chaumont sur Tharonne. In his work he explores notions of games, pleasure and obsession with a kitsch element borrowed from Chinese popular culture. His flower sculptures are not only seducing, they are a direct reference to Mao’s 100 flowers campaign.

The Biennale de Sologne offers an unconventional and alternative way of showcasing Contemporary Art which ought to be discovered this summer.

For further information :

Biennale de Sologne (June to end of September 2015)

Words: Virginie Syn Top L. Photos Vincent Ganivet = Courtesy of the artist, R. Coulange 5 = Courtesy Olivier Coulange (Agence VU) Bottom : Xiaofan Ru = Courtesy of the artist  

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