July 17, 2017

Pierre Jaïn, Musée-exposition/Museum-exposition

the card player (high 53 cm)
picture courtesy of Jean-Michel Jaïn

Still rather unknown in the field of outsider art, a recently published book (Benoît Jaïn, Pierre Jaïn. Un hérétique chez les "bruts"retains Pierre Jaïn's artwork from oblivion fifty years after his death. His sculpture garden in Brittany, France, which to a very limited extent currently still exists, included just a small part of his creative outburst in the 1950's/60's. 

Life and works

Born in Kerlaz, Finistère, France, in a large family Pierre Jaïn (1904-1967), as a young boy due to a breach of his ankle only went to school at the age of ten. After three years he left school to go to work on the farm of his parents. 

He was in the military from 1924-1925 and when in 1931 his father died, he took his place at the farm.

Because of the imminent war with Germany he was mobilized in the army in 1939.  In march 1940 Jaïn broke his legs by a collision with a car and he had to stay in hospitals for a long time to rehabilitate. 

 the bishop (high 63 cm)
this picture and the next three courtesy of Benoît Jaïn

During that long period of rehabilitation he discovered his interest in drawing and sculpting, which he showed by for example processing small pieces of wood with a pocket knife. 

In 1942 Jaïn returned to Kerlaz, to resume the management of the farm, a task he transferred  in 1948 to a brother. 

The effects of the accident had reduced his physical abilities and he would always be having problems with walking. 

 tribute to the deported 
(by Germany during the second world war)

Jaïn would  never marry. In the early 1950's he arranged his own accommodation on the farm's grounds to which he linked a three-to-seven meters large shed he could use as a studio.

In the late 1950's, around 1956, Jaïn got retired from his job and then he actually began creating artworks. He was in his early fifties.

An explosion of creativity

In his studio Jaïn dedicated himself to making sculptures, some of these from animal bones obtained from the local butcher, others from locally available pieces of granite and a rather large number from tree stumps or other pieces of wood. Rising early in the morning he worked steadily, making some 400 creations during the next eight years.

In his artworks Jain expressed his interest in Breton folklore, legends and belief systems,

the Breton village, a creation from a tree stump (63x64 cm)

On shelves along the walls of the studio dozens of sculptures were arranged, often stand alone characters such as devils, saints, historical persons, ethnological types or Breton celebrities, but also more composite creations, such as a scene of a Breton village or a woman and a dragon, as depicted above and below.

the woman and the dragon, sculpted wood (high 52 cm)

The sculptures from granite or cement, a selection of which is pictured in this article, in general were displayed in the garden and the orchard.

Living near the bay of Douarnenez, directly connected to the Atlantic Ocean, Jaín feared the power of the waters of the ocean and familiar with the legend of Ker-Ys, comparable with the biblical story of the flood, he had surrounded the site with a system of protective devices, such as a series of wooden sentinels with a repulsive look to ward of evil intentions, a Groupe Tricéphale (a three headed granite sculpture) at the entrance, a Gargouille (Gargoyle, a legendary dragon) and a three meter high wooden totem with a thin face under a zinc cap.

The art environment had also some other special features. 

There was a Hutte d'Adam (Adam's hut), kind of a man-sized  molehill with an opening through which a seated Adam could be observed, linked with a chain to Eve who was located in a hut named Tentation d'Eve (Temptation of Eve). All together an ensemble depicting the paradis terrestre (heaven on earth).

 Head of Gorgon
this picture and the next one courtesy of Jean-Michel Jaïn

And then there was a self-made musical instrument, the Jaïnophone, a percussion set of mainly metal tubes constructed by Jaïn from all kinds of obsolete materials such as copper pipes, bed springs, plowshares and other sound producing items. Jaïn actually played this instrument, producing music hors normes

A sign at the entrance with the text Musée-Exposition welcomed visitors and people from the U.K. and the Netherlands on holiday in Brittany indeed came by.

Jaïn hospitalized

In june 1966 Jaïn got very serious psychiatric problems. He was admitted to the psychiatric hospital in Quimper, where he stayed for more than a year. Returned home in August 1967 he passed away on November 21, 1967.

Later developments

Pierre Maunoury, a psychiatrist and artist from  the region, who already in 1964 had visited Jaïn, wrote about the artworks in the Fascicules d'Art Brut no 10, published by the Collection d'Art Brut in Lausanne. He also donated a set of decorated bones to the museum.

In 1991 Bruno Montpied rediscovered Jaïn's artwork and wrote about it both in specialized magazines and in his weblog (see documentation).

The artworks could be seen in various regional and local expositions: in 1965 in Douarnenez (organized by Pierre Jaïn himself); in 2001 in Dol de Bretagne (l'Art Brut à l'ABRI); in 2002 in Kerlaz (organized by Jaïn's family) and in 2013 in Brest (l'Art Brut à l'Ouest).

At the time of the publication of this post in this weblog there was an exposition in Kerlaz (july 12-23, 2017), also at the occasion of the new book by Benoît Jaïn.

capped character (60 cm high)

Actual state of the artworks

With a number of exceptions the some 400 self-contained wooden sculptures, divided among the various members of the Jaïn family, are still existing.

However, the wooden sculptures which were displayed outside in the Musée-exposition perished by the effects of the weather, in so far they haven't been removed in time. Most other decorative items, the Jaïnophone included, have been removed

In fact the garden currently only contains some granite sculptures, partly weathered by growing moss.

The farmhouse has become a gîte, where holidaymakers can rent a room. The presence of the sculptures promotes the attractiveness of the site as a holiday residence

* Website about Pierre Jaïn edited by Benoît Jaïn: www.pierrejainartbrut.com
Benoît Jaïn, Pierre Jaïn. Un hérétique chez les "bruts". Kerlaz (YIL Editions), 2017. -115 p
* Article on the weblog of Jean-Yves Cordier about  sculptures by Jaïn at the exposition l'Art Brut á l'Ouest (2013) 
* Various articles and referrals on the weblog of Bruno Montpied
* Article on Wikiwand

Pierre Jaïn
Kerioret Izella, Kerlaz, Brittany, France
site non-extant, except a number of granite sculptures

June 26, 2017

Matti Järvenpää, Rautapuisto/Iron Park

Matti Järvenpää's art environment in Kyröskoski, Finland, for many years has remained a hidden gem. Only recently (spring 2017) written and visual information has become available on the internet about this extensive and impressive artwork.

Life and works

Matti Järvenpää was born in 1936. Already at a young age he had fun in making small constructions. At adulthood he got a job at Kyrö Electric, a company designing and constructing all kinds of electrical installations. He worked there for 43 years until he retired around 2000.

Struck by the beauty of ancient objects and machinery in the agricultural business, Järvenpää made his first creation in 1967, a rocking chair. The re-use of old materials is evident, the seat of the chair for example appears to be derived from a tractor.


This was the first of a series of creations Järvenpää would produce in the years to come. His activity would result in an art environment which for one part consists of stand alone iron creations and for another part of clustered old industrial, agrarian or household objects made from (cast) iron. 

The collection of some thirty iron artworks is exhibited in the green and fragrant surroundings of a pine forest near the small community of Kyröskoski, part of the larger community of Hämeenkyrö (region Pirkanmaa), some 220 north-west of Helsinki.

A special part of the collection is the series of creations made of clustered similar objects, such as the assembly in the picture above, consisting of more or less uniform red and yellow lids surrounded by a radius, an assembly or clustering which as a whole expresses a sunset.

clustered insulators for overhead power cables

Järvenpää's art environment has a variety of such clustered artworks which testify to the creative ingenuity of the artist.

Such as a stack of multicolored buckets.....

...... or kind of a screen built with seats of tractors or other agricultural machines.....

.....or a collection of pancake pans and other circular items added to a wooden wall.....

.... or kettles....

........ or objects you do not recognize immediately, but which have to do with
agricultural or industrial activities in former times.......

In the field of art environments, Järvenpää's method of clustering similar items in designing an artwork, occurs sporadically. In Finland Juha Vanhanen clustered old plowshares, painted white,  to portray a flight of birds. And in Italy Ettore Guatelli collected large quantities of old tools which he added to the walls of his house in rhythmic patterns.

In addition to the creations of the art environment Järvenpää owns a large collection of old cars, buses, billboards and the like, a collection that attracts a lot of interest from rally drivers and other lovers of old cars.
Kyröskoski, Hämeenkyrö, Finland
can be visited on appointment

June 17, 2017

Pavel Andrikevich, будинок з драконом/The house with a dragon

In the Ukrainian city of Lutsk since 2009 a rotatable metal installation that represents a dragon rises on the roof of a residential house. It's a creation by self-taught white-smith Pavel Andrikevich

Life and works

Born in the late 1950's Andrikevich studied at the Civil Aviation Technical School in Leningrad, Russia (from 1991 on St Petersburg).  After his study he worked as a dispatcher at the traffic service of the regional airport of the Rivne region in the north-west of Ukraine.

In the 1980's he got a job at the in 1984 newly opened Volyn regional airport, not far from the city of Lutsk, where he went to live.

Around 1986 Andrikevich became interested in working with metal. Just as other self-taught artists make sculptures or other creations from wood, it's for Andrikevich an artistic adventure to work with metal. 

In part his metalwork just delivers decorative items, for another part it results in functional products which are nice to see as well, as for example a decorated turbo vent as on the picture below.

The airport of the Volyn region, where Andrikevich worked,  was successful in the 1980's, but it encountered problems following the dissolution of the USSR in december 1991. It officially closed in 1997, but Andrikevich may have lost his job earlier.

He got a new job at the TechnoModul company in Lutsk, which makes equipment for ventilation.

Next to this job Andrikevich also focused upon the manufacture of metal domes for churches, monasteries and other buildings in Lutsk and in the surrounding Volyn region. An example of such a dome is the one installed on the chapel at the site of a fire brigade in Lutsk.

A very special part of Andrikevich's metalwork is his series of decorated helmets for motorcyclists, made from shining steel and adorned with various colorful stones.

These helmets indeed are suitable to wear when driving a motor cycle, but Andrikevich rarely will do so to prevent problems with the police.

In addition to these helmets, Andrikevich's house and garden contain many more metal items, such as above shield and sword, but also a swing for children, storage boxes and various other decorative items. 

However, Andrikevich's most spectacular creation is the dragon on the roof of his two story house.

The idea to construct such a creature had been with Andrikevich for a while, but it actually took shape when he had to rest for weeks due to an accidentally broken thigh. 

Made of aluminum in order not to be too heavy and resting on a base of galvanized steel, the five-meter long dragon can turn with the direction of the wind. It is flanked by decorated chimneys, crowned with pigeons.

With the help of his two sons, Andrikevich installed the creation on june 7, 2009. 

Visible from afar, it attracts a lot of public interest, as it also resulted in various articles in the local and regional press.

* Article (april 2017) in newspaper Volyn News
* Article (march 2016) in newspaper Rayon Lutsk
* Article (january 2012) in newspaper Volyn News 
* Album The House with the Dragon in Lutsk by Masha Pypypchuk on Facebook (july 2017), with a large variety of pictures of the site
* Video by Masha Pylypchuk (Facebook, 1'30", july 2017) with the dragon in full action

Pavel Andrikevich
The house with a dragon
(name of street unknown)
Lutsk, Volyn region, Ukraine
no public visits,
the installation can be seen from the street 

May 31, 2017

Pascal Audin, Le monde de M. Audin/Mr Audin's world

On the Place du Marché (market square) in Gençay, France, just behind the town hall, an old shop was transformed into an art environment named Le monde de M. Audin (Mr Audin's world).

Life and works

Born July 1, 1957 in Poitiers, Pascal Audin grew up in a family that treated him with denigration. which meant that as an adult he experienced problems in finding a place in life. Although he had jobs such as painter at a construction company and stone cutter, he also was homeless for a couple of years and for some time he was taken to a therapeutic center.

The turning point in his life came at age forty, when a friend asked him why he did not try making visual art. 

Later looking back at that moment, Audin said: "Ça a fait tilt dans ma tête, et depuis je peins. Je peins comme les enfants, de manière instinctive. Cela sort de mes tripes, de mon coeur" (It clicked in my head and since then I paint. I paint like children, instinctively. It's out of my guts, out of my heart) ¹.

His colorful paintings are one and all joy and bear witness to a great imagination and curiosity. 

In 2002 Audin settled in Gençay, a small town south of Poitiers in the west of France with some 1800 inhabitants. At the market place in the center of town he could rent an old, rather dilapidated shop. 

He used this shop both as his dwelling house and as his workshop. A self-taught artist, Audin produced a large quantity of all kind of artworks, such as totems, paintings and postcards. He decorated the interior and exterior walls with frescoes, installed a variety of items, such as a collection of decorated snow/christmasballs or a collection of keys added to a ceiling.... 

The artist's house became an art environment, which soon began to contribute to the identity of the town. As the painter of Gençay Audin became a central personality of the community.

He was invited to take part in various expositions and he liked to cooperate with schools in realizing large frescoes together with the school children.

An association Les amis de Monsieur Audin was formed, which in 2009 published a weblog with information about his expositions and photographs of his artworks and house.

The future of the site is assured

When in 2015 a rental period of Audi's house/museum/art environment would expire, the owner indicated his intention to sell the property.

Since this could have meant that Audin had to leave and that much of his artwork might get lost, the Association of friends became active and organized a crowdfunding action, about which newspapers reported.

In august 2015 it was announced that with € 15.000 on donations from friends and with financial support from the Communauté de Communes du Pays de Gençay and from the Région Poitou-Charente, the necessary resources were available to buy the house.


* Video by newspaper La Nouvelle République (2'53", Daily Motion, uploaded april 2915)

¹ The quote is from an article in La Nouvelle République (29-1-2011), reprinted in facsimile on the website Les amis de  monsieur Audin

Pascal Audin
Le monde de M. Audin
Place du marché
Gençay, Nouvelle-Acquitaine region, France
visitors welcome

May 22, 2017

Konstantin Ekshibarov, Музей скопирована картины/Museum of copied paintings

Ekshibarov with two of his paintings
In Chudovo, a Russian town some 100 km south-east of St Petersburg. self-taught artist Konstantin Ekshibarov transformed his house into a museum by filling its rooms with a large variety of copies of paintings by Europe's leading classical painters.

Life and works

Born in 1926 in Barnaoel, a town in the south-west of Siberia. Konstantin Sergeyevich Ekshibarov already at a young age was very interested in visual art. Going to an art school however wasn't an issue since in 1944 at age 18 he was immediately drafted into the army which was engaged in the war with Germany.

During the war he witnessed that soldiers destroyed valuable artistic items in a library and at that moment he decided to devote his life to the copying of paintings by classical painters.

this picture and the next ones (2005):
screenprints from the TV1 video (see documentation)

After the war Ekshibarov went to the Military Medical Academy, although he later regretted he had not followed his calling to go to an art academy. After the academy he stayed in the army as a medical dcotor.

In 1956 he left the military for a job as biochemist-toxicologist at the Russian Institute for Toxicology in Leningrad (named St Petersburg from 1991), where he worked until he retired in 1984.

During all the years in the army and at the institute, in his spare time he was active in making copies of classical paintings.

In doing so, he focused in particular on copying paintings of famous classic masters, such as Rubens, Goya, Velazquez, Titian.... 

He has created hundreds of copies, with a certain preference for portraits of women and the female nude, working by means of illustrations of paintings in magazines and books about visual art.

During most of his professional life Ekshibarov was not allowed to make trips abroad to see paintings of his beloved masters in Europen museums, but of course the Hermitage was at his fingertips.

Once retired, Ekshibaro and his wife Anna Vasilyevna decided to go outside the big city. In 1985 they settled in Chudovo, a town of some 15000 inhabitants in the Novgorod region, where they had acquired an old two-storey house. 

Ekshibarov single-handedly transformed this property into a building with some fifteen rooms, which came in very handy to exhibit Ekshibarov's already extensive collection of copies of paintings. 

So the couple went to live in two of the rooms and all other rooms were intended for exhibiting the paintings. That is to say, a selection of the paintings, because the collection was so extensive that a large part of it had to be kept stored.

Some rooms were dedicated to a particular country or region, for example Italy, France, Russia, Germany, Flanders......

By adding attributes Ekshibarov and his wife have tried to give each room the atmosphere that fits the paintings and the era they were created. 

Ekshibarov was not a man who sought publicity with regard to his artistic work. He performed his artwork in isolation and had no contact with others about his artistic activities. The local committee on culture did not know about his museum.

This situation lasted about twenty years, until in october 2003 a first article about his creations appeared in the Russian newspaper Izvestia, followed by articles in other newspapers in the same month and in 2005 and 2007 (see documentation).

At that time the artist was around age 80, so in these articles also the question was raised what should happen with his legacy of over 450 paintings.

Ekshibarov himself on principle never considered to sell separate items of his artwork, neither would he consider to donate seperate items to a museum. His ideal was that his entire oeuvre would be exhibited in a separate museum, preferably in a building in Chudovo and maybe under the auspices of an already existing museum. In such an arrangement he would gladly donate the complete collection to a foundation or a museum.

It is a pity to have to end this post in 2017 by concluding that after 2007 no further news has appeared on the internet, neither about Ekshibarov himself, nor about the status of the collection. Documentation
* Article (october 2003) in Konsomolskaya Pravda

Konstantin Sergeyevich Ekshibarov
Museum of copied paintings
Chudovo, Novgorod region, Russia
no information available about the actual situation

May 16, 2017

Alexander Forýtek, Velký betlém/Nativity scene

At first sight the nativity scene in above picture looks like so many others in Europe, but on closer consideration the scene has something very special. The manger as such has its traditional scene, but around it one sees scenes of daily life in the community, depicted in a large variety of sculptures of ordinary village people.

Life and work

This is the work of Alexander Forýtek, who was born in 1953 in the city of Zlín in the Czech Republic.

After his primary education he studied pedagogy and got a job as an educator. He went to live in Turovice, a small community of some 200 inhabitants just outside the city of Dřevohostice which has some 1600 inhabitants.

Already as a young man, Forýtek was quite interested in visual art. He liked to make paintings, such as landscapes, portraits and still lifes, but he also tried sculpting and carving.

In the 1970's his illustrations were published in various Czech magazines.

The story of the nativity scene begins in 2001. In that year for the first time a nativity scene created by Forýtek, was installed on Dřevohostice's main square, just a traditional arrangement of a manger with the holy family, three kings and a couple of lambs. 

But in the following years this arrangement was gradually supplemented by a number of new sculptures, depicting many ordinary people from the city.

The municipal website says this was an idea of Ladislava Sigmunda, the mayor of the city.

The characters depicted in the sculptures include a village band and other musicians, a horse pulling a car, a miller carrying a sack of flour, a mother and her son on their way with a milk can, various small animals, and so on .... in general scenes from daily life in the community in the 1930's.

Forýtek made his sculptures in a realistic style, even so realistic that some residents of the community recognized themselves in the depicted characters.

The sculptures have a core of wood on which blocks of polystyrene are attached, which are subsequently cut into model and finished with a paint that is especially composed of glue, polychrome and paint to defy the weather. 

The sculptures are very solid, even so solid that, for example, children can sit on the horse pulling the car.

Since the first start in 2001, the site has grown in size. Every year Forýtek would make a number of new sculptures to enlarge the scene.

Currently (2017) it has reached its maximum size with an area of 200 square meters, where about forty sculptures can be installed. Forýtek does not make any new sculptures. He fell ill and lives in a retirement home in Radkov Lhota.

Forýtek's nativity scene will be built in early December and will remain on the main square of the city until Epiphany.

Pavel Konečný, Šimon Kadlčák, Atlas spontánního umění (Atlas of spontaneous art), Prague (Ed Art Map), 2016 (ISBN 978-80-906599-1-9). p. 236-247
* Article (december 2016) in regional journal Prerovskýy Deník, with a large series of pictures of the site by Petra Poláková - Uvírová
* Video Betlem ve Dřevohosticích by 13Handan (3'23", Youtube, downloaded jan 2013)

Alexander Forýtka
Nativity scene
Dřevohostice, Olomouc region, Czech Republic
can be seen in december on the city's main square

May 03, 2017

Sergey Federovich Pankratov, Хрустальный дом/Crystal house

The singular architecture in above picture is no longer extant. The picture shows the house, located in a small community east of Moscow, Russia, as it was in its most complete appearance in the 1980's, the 1990's and the early years of the 21th century.

Life and works

This house was single-handedly built by Sergey Federovich Pankratov, who was born in the early 1920's (1921 or 1922) and became associate professor in the Department of Philosophy of the.Moscow Institute of Instrument Engineering. When people asked him about his profession he would say that he was a philosopher.

In 1964, when he was in his early forties, he acquired an ordinary wooden house in the small community of Kuznetsy, a neigbourhood in the city of Pavlovsky Posad in the Moscow region. A year later he got permission to rebuild the property into a stone house.

So in 1965 Pankratov began to rebuild the house, mainly using scrap metal items he bought at a discount at Electrostal (a metal factory in the epynomous city located near Kuznetsy) and bricks from a nearby landfill where stones from waste baking ovens were dumped.

The project would take 16 years, due to the special building style and the various specific elements and decorations he added.

These various elements included a wind turbine supplying electricity, a rotating decorated globe on the roof, an upper floor made and functioning as a greenhouse, a facade decorated with a metal column crowned with a huge rotating flower-pot, all visible from the street.

At the backside of the house there was a rotating pavillion.

Located along the M7/E22 highroad, an important link between Moscow and Russia's eastern regions, Pankratov's singular architecture attracted much interest from passing drivers.

More about Pankratov's various constructions

The wind turbine, constructed from fiberglass, epoxy resin, wood and metal, could generate 3.5 kilowatt. In 1991 Pankratov was interviewd on Moscow TV about this for these years rather unusual and very innovative facility in a private setting.

early picture of Pankratov
the wind turbine is extant, 
but the globe and the vase still have to be constructed

Located on the top of the roof, the globe was held in a gilded metal radius. Pankratov not only had painted the various continents on the globe, but he had also decorated these with pieces of mirror glass that shimmered in the sun while the globe rotated.

The vase in front of the house also could rotate. It could be provided with flowers, or with a christmans tree in winter. On its side pots with flowers could be placed in twelve holders.

The loft of the house resembled a greenhouse. It had a glass roof and its 104 square meters large floor was covered with 25 cm high layer of earth in which all kinds of vegetables could grow. Via a hydraulic ststem the plants could be watered and to transport the harvest of cucumbers, tomatoes and so on downwards  there was something like a train of crates riding over a rails

In the garden behind the house was a gazebo, kind of a garden house. It had twelve seats and this structure could also rotate, one full turn in a minute. Eppur si muove (And yet she moves)

In the 1980's and 1990's, when the site was in good condition, buses with tourists from Moscow would drive past the house, which was also included in touristic guides. Pankratov would welcome them if they wanted to see the thouse and he liked to talk to them about all kind of philosophical topics, all the more when he had retired in 1989.

Perhaps in these talks Copernicus came up too and maybe his alleged remark Eppur si muove was jokingly related to Pankratov's preference for all that rotates....

Pankratov never married. The women he loved married someone else. He lived alone and around 1998 it has been reported that the house as such was not equipped for a comfortable life, as it lacked furniture and had a desolate appearance.

Pankratov wouldn't care about this, since all his energy was directed upon developping his installations.

A reporter who wrote an article in the Rossiyskaya Gazeta (october 2014) says that he "finally realized: everything here is the fruit of the restless imagination and tireless imagination of the author, everything is interesting, unusual, original. Everything is outlandish for a visiting guest, like me, all for the astonished look of an outsider. But not for normal human life"

In the new century the site began to fall in decline

Above picture of the house was made in april 2008 and it shows that at that time the wind turbine and the globe had disappeared. In the early years of the 21th century Pankratov reached the age of 80 and as he grew older and lived alone, he more and more got problems with the maintenance of the house and the remaining installations.

The reporter who visited him in 2014, wrote: "The house gave the impression of being abandoned long ago and looted" and he described Pankratov as an old man dressed in old clothes.

In the course of 2015 he must have died ¹, after which the heirs have "normalized" the house.

Currently seen from the outside nothing reminds of Pankratov's singular architecture.

* Article (around 1998) on website Goths.ru
* Article (august 2001) in Moskovsky Konsomolets
* Article (july 2014) in Rossiyskaya Gazeta
* Article (november 2015) in Novaya Gazeta

¹ This is based upon a commentary on imgsrc.ru (aug 2015) where it is said  that Pankratov sadly had passed away. The visit reported in the Novava Gazeta in november 2015 may have taken place earlier that year

Sergey Federovich Pankatov
Crystal House
along the M7 highroad
Kuznetsy, Moscow region, Russia
no longer extant
streetview (june 2013)