Danièle Kapel Marcovici is a successful business woman who has turned her parents’ small wrapping company Raja into the largest group in Europe. She founded the Raja foundation for women’s rights and has recently developed an art space for sculpture in l’Isle sur la Sorgue, near Avignon, where she spends the summer. Villa Datris is open till November and shows an exhibition “Bêtes de Scène” devoted to animals of all kinds.
When you enter the garden of Villa Datris in the center of l’Isle sur la Sorgue, stuffed “Paresseux” (sloths) by Elodie Antoine, are seen hanging from the eucalyptus and fig trees, and a large horse by Robert Combas watches over the house. The garden has been tamed to uncover a “Hare” by Barry Flanagan, a “Bear” by Erik Dietman, a “Bird” by Xavier Veilhan and a yellow Hen by Richard di Rosa.
The mistral blows violently and all the sculptures are moving. Curated by Danièle Kapel Marcovici and Stéphane Baumet, the exhibition shows a mix of International figures like Tinguely, César, Johan Creten, Ugo Rondinone, Claire Morgan or Prune Nourry, two South African artists, Wim Botha and Andries Botha, and very interesting young local artists from Marseille to Lacoste like Antonio Gagliardi or Ciris-Vell.
This diversity in fame and topics is what characterizes the collection of Villa Dartis, a very subjective choice of contemporary sculptures made by its owner. Most works are picked at ArtBasel in June for the following season and while some pieces are lent by galleries, many are bought for the foundation’s collection. There is a common link to all works exhibited: they have a political or an environmental signification and the role of women in our society is always important. Thus Jan Fabre, who was excluded from the show because of alleged sexual harassment.
The themes studied here are animal survival and animal wilderness, cabinets de curiosités and animal’s language. A sculpture by Jean Tinguely called le Coq was made to portray a particularly pretentious male. A luminous frame of feathers made out of wax by Gabriel Sobin smelled wonderfully and was quite fascinating. He lives in Lacoste a few miles away and has switched from cutting stone to moulding heron feathers inspired by an Egyptian bird. Indian born American artists, Rina Banerjee uses dressed monkeys to stand as messengers of modernity. Jean- François Fourtou hangs his giant snails on the staircase.
I loved Samuel Rousseau‘s video of Lascaux’s animals projected on a stone which is very whimsical and should be part of the Prehistory exhibition at Beaubourg, and the arch of mythical animals by Ciris-Vell another local artist. Laurent Perbos has two pieces one on the river which glitters in the sun and a series of birdcages which shine in the dark. Two golf clubs were turned into snakes by Terrence Musekiwa from Zimbabwe, and Béatrice Arthus-Bertrand shows her I-dog made of multicolor pins. She spends the summers in Bonnieux nearby.
The artists present at the opening were passionate about their art as is the owner of the Villa who spends 1 Million € a year running this art place which is open for free to all publics. The result is that 50 000 visitors visit it between May and November!
L’Isle sur la Sorgue is famous for its antique markets which have become quite touristic over the years. But it also has a beautiful collegiale Notre Dame des Anges with a baroque decor, and the Campredon art center located in an old hôtel particulier. Starting on July 6, you can see there an exhibition of Guy Bourdin‘s photographs, the magician who worked for French Vogue in the 1980’s with great genius. And on your way back along the lovely canals of this Provençale Venice, do not miss Lilamand, the confiseur specialized in calissons and fruits confits, based in Saint Rémy, who has a lovely shop in town.
Bêtes de Scène, until November 3, at Fondation Villa Datris in l’Isle sur la Sorgue. And bring your children, they’ll have plenty of stuff to play with.
And if you are looking for a beautiful house to spend the night, book at la Bastide Rose, in le Thor the next village, where Nicole (Poppy) Salinger has a guest house and a Foundation in the name of her late husband Pierre Salinger.
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