Chartres and Charbonnel

Saturday 27 July 2019

A pleasant hour from Orléans, through sunflowers and golden stubble, brought me to Chartres.

Another cathedral, another old town, but a lovely place with many sides to its character.

The cathedral, of course, and next to that, an art museum,

in a former episcopal palace,

(more of which later), an expansive old town,

rolling downhill to picturesque river scenes,

and another gallery in a former church.

Chartres changed at every corner, had a good atmosphere, and was a delight to explore.

I went into the gallery by the cathedral. It had a couple of exhibitions of particular artists, but the bulk of the space was taken up by an eclectic mix of bits and pieces, plus paintings hung as if by a local art group. It was charming in a way.

I started to think that someone had said, “Look, we’ve got this empty building, what have we got in the cupboards?” The building hadn’t been made into a gallery, stuff was just stuck in the empty rooms. Stuff like this.

I could almost hear the guy on the right going “Grrr!” Or this.

The tears! The hands!

I thought, “It’s old, I know, but does it warrant display in a glass case?” But then I thought, “Perhaps this is a gallery for things that are a bit shit!” What a noble cause, giving a home to crappy art and artefacts. I was chuckling to myself as I wandered around the rest of the collection with that in mind.

A better quality of work was to be found on the streets of Chartres; sculptures by Christophe Charbonnel.

I’d seen pieces of his in galleries and loved them, but now I’d stumbled on a town full of his work.

The drawing together of classical themes with a contemporary aesthetic makes for powerful images, and the gallery down by the river was full of them.

The space was an ideal showcase,

to put works together,

like these, and David and Goliath.

Poseidon was a reoccurring figure,

and here,

and this gorgon head.

In the town and the gallery there were about forty pieces; all would be welcome in my home. No place for them in my “Museum of the Bit Shit”. (I wonder if I can get backers for the idea?)

I expected little as I drove to Chartres this morning, but it delivered a day of delights and surprises. A lovely place.

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