Chambord is a 500-year-old castle in the Loire Valley, South of Paris. Magic operates when a contemporary artist is permitted to use its historic walls and grandiose park for his artworks! This spring and throughout the summer, the castle is opened for visitors to come and enjoy its premises with a touch of grace: that of the French/Argentinian artist, Pablo Reinoso, with his exhibition ’Overflow’.
The cultural life has suffered during these years of pandemic. However, it has also permitted artists to work on projects without outer disturbances. The Loire Valley is one of France’s most frequented tourist attractions, thanks to the several well-preserved castles and its closeness to the capital. Most castles were emptied of their furniture and artworks during the French Revolution. Maybe that’s why they’re well suited for contemporary exhibitions like this one?
Pablo Reinoso has been keen on using the existing structures and rooms. He’s an ecologically concerned artist who works with woods – recuperated or available in abundance – and steal. For the over fifty pieces shown at Chambord, he’s used chestnut trees that grow in the vicinity and fallen mulberry branches. There are also huge charcoal paintings that ornate some of the castle’s walls and even parts of its façade where repairs are being conducted, using scaffolding.
The castle’s masterpiece is an inner circular, intricate, double staircase, inspired by Leonard da Vinci. Without obscuring its beauty, Pablo invested it by hanging inside it, black canvas ’breathing’ cushions. Ventilating devices are placed in the cushions, making them move up and down. Similar cushions have been used in some of the castle’s smaller side rooms. The artists told us to enter the space in silence and to ’listen to the breathing’. This black cushion sculpture had something spooky over it though. His coal installation inside this dark room didn’t lift the mood either. It suggested the end of an area and the manner in which we have polluted the environment.
There was light in the tunnel in this seeming hopelessness with his humorous wood benches that stretched out like spaghetti and his likewise perched chairs. Pablo has invested what he could in this otherwise barren castle: on the walls, the floors, and in the large fireplaces, in which he had placed wooden sculptures, resembling flames.
’Articulations’ – sculptures made as bodily articulations and hung up or placed on the floor – made me think of Leonardo da Vinci’s fascination for the human body. They might have different meanings, such as the ingenuity of our own bodies, with all their intricate functions, that we don’t even pay attention to unless of course something gets broken and our fragility. Pablo’s works reflect the human senses: be it breathing, hearing, touching, seeing (in the dark room), moving… It may also be a reminder of our eventual decaying. ’We come from dust and to dust we shall return”.
It was nice to step out of the chilly castle and into the warm spring day in the park. Pablo’s idea seems to be that his outdoor sculptures may also be useful. Children were climbing in them and two of them are like enormous rocking chairs, quite comfortable at that. However, the one I preferred was a monumental tree in steal. Peaking inside it, I discovered a perfectly adjusted spiral, apparently also inspired by Leonardo da Vinci.
The park is lovely to stroll around in. There’s a restaurant in the vicinity and a shop selling the castle’s own wine among others. Not far away is another castle, Cheverny, with the Swedish sculptor, Gudmar Olovson’s beautiful ’Love garden’ that is also worth the detour. The Loire Valley has much to offer and is at its best when, as in this case, it mixes history with art.
Château de Chambord