An unexpected introduction to Ossip Zadkine in Les Arques

15th of September, 2018

To find a book in The Netherlands, with information about interesting places in the Lot department, is difficult. Plenty regarding the Dordogne and Lot-et-Garonne, but nothing for this area. So thanks to Google, I make myself familiar with my surroundings, as I don’t want to miss out on anything important. While investigating, I read about this small, but important museum in the vicinity of Frayssinet-Le-Gélat. Next moment I hop in the car and drive direction Cazals and then halfway I turn into a ‘white’ and curvy road, which brings me to Les Arques.

Both scenery and village are very peaceful, authentic and worth visiting. I park my car and hear a lot of voices, from people having lunch in the one and only restaurant in the village. Later, they will all visit the museum, but by that time I am gone again.

The Église St. Laurant invites me in and immediately I am attracted to the Pietà in the crypt; just a wonderful piece of art, made by the Russian artist Ossip Zadkine, who bought a house in Les Arques in 1934, the place where he felt deeply connected with nature. He took care of the renovation of the church and created the wooden Christ on the Cross. Zadkine was a tremendously gifted sculptor and there is a museum in Les Arques, opposite the church, with bronze and wooden statues, engravings and  various photographs and testimonies of the artist. It is a small, but delightful museum!

 

Zadkine is the maker of the famous statue ‘the Destroyed City’ or ‘de Verwoeste Stad’, on Plein 1940 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. It remembers the bombings during the Second World War. From the 6th of October 2018 until the 3rd of March 2019, there will be an exhibition in Museum ‘Beelden aan Zee’ or ‘Statues by the Sea’ in Scheveningen, The Netherlands, with work from this remarkable artist. It will be organized together with the ‘Musée Zadkine de la Ville de Paris’.

After my visit to Les Arques, I drive home and make a stop by the tiny Chapel of Saint Andrée. There is nobody else and the church door is open. It feels weird and a little bit lonely, to be here, in the midst of fields and forest and in a place where Zadkine played such an important role; with his help it was possible to unveil the frescoes of the late 15th Century. A picture shows Zadkine sitting on a small chair in the little chapel. For a moment I sit myself on the same old and simple chair and feel his presence around.

 

 

 

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