Bio & CV
Painting Flesh
Wall Paintings
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Every summer since 1991, the Art dans les Chapelles contemporary art festival gathers audiences focused on art, historic and religious heritage, as well as the natural environment. This cultural institution is partly supported by the French Ministry of Culture. Each summer, a trail of exhibitions leads the viewers from one chapel to another in the bucolic valley of the Blavet, located between the cities of Pontivy and Vannes in Brittany. Each chapel houses an on-site exhibit by a contemporary artist.

In 1998, director and curator of Art dans les Chapelles Olivier Delavallade invited artist Isabelle Bonzom to create an exhibit in relation to one of the chapels. They chose Saint Trémeur Chapel, situated near Bubry at the entrance to a forest.

Sensitive to the ring of trees and the iconographic program of that chapel, Isabelle Bonzom conceived and created a pictorial journey in dialogue with the building and its location, with the sculptures and material found on the altar and with the ring of trees surrounding the chapel. Inspired by two polychrome statues on the altar which represent Saint Trémeur carrying his head and Saint Isidore featuring grotesque traits, Isabelle Bonzom showed an ensemble of faces and facial expressions ranging from gravity to outbursts of laughter. She therefore offered the viewers a journey encouraging them to circulate inside and outside the chapel.


Above, from left to right :
Isabelle Bonzom "Serenity" 1998 - watercolor, oil/canvas - 90x90cm. Altar, statue of Saint Trémeur, polychrome wood, XVIIth century.

“Each drawing or painting is a new experience. It’s about capturing the form and transformations of a face or a movement, the complexion of a skin, the palpitation of the flesh, and the look of the eyes or a mouth. It’s about capturing the inner feelings or the explosive smiles. Subject and painting undergo a metamorphosis. Detached from its context thanks to the use of close-ups and changes of scale, the human face takes another dimension, literally as well as figuratively. I work on the face with superimpositions of ample touches of translucent or opaque colors. The image and the paint spill over the frame, spread on the sides of the painting which becomes three dimensional.

Each exhibition is a new adventure. It’s about proposing to the viewer a journey based on the links between painting and the environment. I create correspondences between the subject, the support, the paint and the natural and architectural context of the exhibition site. In the Brittany countryside, two statues with a tragic face usually ornament the Saint Trémeur Chapel, alone. In the summer of 1998, this site of union and reunion is completed, in a way populated, with a little humanity, a glimpse at my work.

Isabelle Bonzom, 1998

Below, from left to right, paintings installed on the right of the altar :
Isabelle Bonzom "Gourmande" - watercolor, oil/canvas - 54,5 x50cm. "Snapshot", "Closed eyes"and "Charming" - watercolor, oil/canvas - 90x90cm


“Faces by Isabelle Bonzom, faces radiant or suffering, grave then progressively smiling. They convey the truth about the subject with no concession, in a crude light that underlines the traces and history. The incarnation, here and now, absolutely contemporary…”

Olivier Delavallade, Art dans les Chapelles director and curator, excerpt from the opening text, 1998


Above : Isabelle Bonzom "Trees looking at us" - oil/steel/wood, in the ring of trees surrounding Saint Trémeur Chapel

Martine Méheut, philosopher and former director of the De la Pensée collection at the Alinéa publishing house, shares her thoughts about the series of faces painted by Isabelle Bonzom:

These eyes looking at us are extremely present, yet without any notion of future or past. Theirs is a timeless presence. All the anecdotal has been removed, including the temporal which is a form of anecdote. These painted faces are present in whatever epoch they lived.

It is a passage outside of time through plenitude, not through fixedness. It is a living presence. There is life in there. However, it is life with no time passing, no notion of the ephemeral. I believe that philosophy and art have this in common: a taste for and an interest in what is obscure because the obscure is richer than what is evident. Art, philosophy and the sacred share this taste for obscurity, not because it is obscure, but because it has been found that there lies the essential.

In those paintings by Isabelle Bonzom, I feel the sacred, which is to say, the overcoming of the prosaic. All is not explainable, not because one has not journeyed enough but because there is a domain we will never consider from all angles. The religious is what ties human beings together. In it, there is the ritual aspect, the sharing, and the social dimension. The sacred is the exception for some, it’s very mysterious as they are religious men and women who are not at all sacred and there are other people who have a feel for the sacred without being religious at all. The sacred pertains to the realm of the personal, not social, experience. "

Martine Méheut, (excerpts) 1992

Above, from left to right, paintings by Isabelle Bonzom in the Saint-Trémeur Chapel :
"Melancholy" 1991 - watercolor, oil/canvas- 90x90cm. "Broken hearts" 1991- ink/eight slices of wood

“Isabelle Bonzom’s paintings reconnect with form. The image becomes a real pleasure to look at. Through faces of various sizes, the artist has managed to render, with great talent, the fugitive instant of a human expression: an outburst of laughter, joie de vivre shine in her work…Isabelle Bonzom has forged a solid link between her work and the Saint Trémeur Chapel, for the duration of summer.”

Ouest-France, leading French daily newspaper, July 1998.


Above, painting by Isabelle Bonzom at the entrance of Saint Trémeur Chapel :
"In her skin" 1998 - watercolor/canvas - 50x50cm and "Serenity"- watercolor, oil/canvas - 90x90cm


25th anniversary show of L'Art dans les Chapelles
25 years of creation in contemporary art

Isabelle Bonzom participates in the 25th anniversary of L'Art dans les Chapelles. First presented in June 2016 at the Jean Fournier Gallery in Paris, a show gathering about a hundred works by artists travels to the Pontivy's Bains Douches art center, from July 9 to September 18, 2016.

Below, paintings by Isabelle Bonzom presented at the anniversary show of L'Art dans les Chapelles:
"Faces, I, II et III" 1991 - ink/canvas - 15,5x12cm each

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