Folon in Lucca




From 9 May to 27 July 2003, the staterooms in the Palazzo Ducale hosted the anthological exhibition dedicated to the Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon, entitled FOLON A LUCCA, designed by the artist himself and curated by Massimo Marsili.

Folon a Lucca is the artist’s tribute to the town he fell in love with when he was just twenty and on his first trip to Italy. The works that make up this exhibition belong to Folon’s private collection and many of them have never been exhibited before. They have not been donated to the Folon Foundation because of the artist’s special affection for and attachment to them.
The themes of the exhibition – travel, the relationship between word and image, and moral commitment to beauty and peace – take the visitor through the various sections. On public view for the first time will be “The Dove of Peace” and “The Dove of Death”, the supreme synthesis of the idea of travel and moral commitment. “The Dove of Peace” was created by the artist for the World Day of Peace, on 15 February last year and was commissioned by the European Community.
The sculpture section is the first that you come to, at the top of the entrance staircase. The majority of the pieces are in varnished bronze and of various dimensions, part of the “Pensée” collection, and occupy the Ammannati Gallery in the Palazzo Ducale where Folon has created a little Italian garden at the end of which is a fountain entitled “Vivre”, showing a panther, the symbol of Lucca. Particularly evocative are “Homme” and “La Robe du Temps”, in fossil stone from Africa and yellow stone from Pakistan, inspired by the sculpture of ancient Greece, where the artist has followed the form of the stones preserving the traces of fossils within it.
Next is the objects section: fishing bait transformed into little totems or mythological figures, wooden chopping boards that assume the form of African masks, old shutter panels with which he plays with the antinomy of light and shadow. Everyday objects whose form immediately fascinates Folon, objects collected on fishing trips with a fisherman friend or found by chance and reworked to reveal their intimate meaning.
The painting section consists mainly of watercolours. Some unpublished works such as the poster for La Bohème (in anticipation of the set design that the artist is creating for the Puccini Festival in Torre del Lago), a large heart setting on the horizon; the exhibition’s own poster “The Archangel” or “The Flying Man”, inspired by the archangel that stands at the top of the Church of San Michele, a reminder of his first encounter with Lucca and also of Fra Angelico’s angels. From the seventies, there is a selection commissioned by Amnesty International to illustrate The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a book translated into all the official languages of the United Nations.
Finally, there are some etchings from the two “Pluies de New York” and “L’Inutile Beauté” dedicated to the novels of the same name by Albert Camus and Guy de Maupassant respectively.
The exhibition comes to an end with the tapestry section including “Fleurs” and “Bouquet” which have not been seen before.