12 September 2019
A mesmerising, variegated and colourful jungle appears to have infiltrated one of the most fascinating 18th century Cistercian nunneries in the Parisian suburbs. It is a truly extraordinary sight. Julien Colombier has taken over Maubuisson Abbey, now a renowned contemporary art centre, down to the last centimetre with his plant world. Fat green leaves, fanciful fruit and exotic motifs creep over every single stone.
Born in 1972, Colombier is self-taught and works in pastels, chalk and acrylics on paper, canvas, walls, wood and fabric. His artistic universe is a lush world of plants. His motifs are fragments of highly-coloured jungle and tropical forest landscapes, repeated almost to the point of obsession, achieving a hypnotic and dreamlike effect. His work portrays a lost paradise, obviously devoid of people, but whether it came before or after their disappearance matters little.
An eclectic painter who draws inspiration from graffiti and Japanese art, as well as the work of Keith Haring, Henri Matisse and Henri Rousseau, Julien Colombier seems to have reinvented this place. How could it be otherwise, though? He has painted around 500 square metres, entirely by hand - an extremely physical and cathartic experience – and an initiatory one. “As soon as I entered these rooms, I imagined the joy of the nuns guided by their faith and the suffering of those who found themselves imprisoned in the same place. These thoughts drove me to try an express the theme of contrast. Some visitors have commented that it was like finding themselves on a hallucinogenic journey,” said the artist.
The title, Electric Ladyland, is drawn from one of the finest albums by Jimi Hendrix, a musician he greatly admires, and alludes to the female element that characterised the place. It can truly be said that there is no lack of electricity, rhythm and psychedelic effect in this one-man show.
Runs until 5th October 2019
Abbaye de Maubuisson
Site d’Art Contemporain du Conseil Départemental du Val d’Oise