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Richard Greaves, Anarchitect

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About the Artist/Site

For some time now, we have known that Richard Greaves has turned away from his fabulous fantasy architecture, improvised constructions created from assemblages of lumber and materials collected from the demolition of nearby barns or homes. Beginning in 1989 he had patiently erected a sort of ramshackle village sheltered in the middle of the forest in Québec’s Beauce region: some twenty cabins were constructed without a nail (“in order to not wound the material…”) but instead with reused nylon twine recycled from the local farmers. His grouping of buildings gave the impression of being totally imbalanced and on the point of falling down, thus giving these “anarchitectures” a rather cubist aspect (think: Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbau). They had a dreamlike, deformed perspective worthy of the décor of the 1920 expressionist film by Robert Wiene, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.

Recently I received a notice from the Galerie des Nanas in Québec that related to the disappearance of the site. One of Greaves’ neighbors, upset by the constant presence of visitors who tramped across his land and environs in order to see Greaves’ work, had the very bad idea to pull everything down, assuming that the general indifference of the Canadian art world would mean that no one would care. A pile of boards and a depressing view are all that now remain of this impressive masterpiece of wild and inspired bricolage. Forgetfulness, destruction, complicated inheritance issues, problems with the neighbors…all of these are the great classic problems which regularly put these spontaneous works of art created by self-taught builders in danger. Even if one believes that art brut will ultimately find a dignified place in the cultural field, Greaves’ work won’t have escaped the threat, and it has joined the long list of victims of obscurantism, those opposed to diffusion of knowledge of any kind.

~Jean-Michel Chesné

Translated by Jo Farb Hernández 

Map and site information

Not Exact Address
Quebec, Quebec, Canada
Latitude/Longitude: 46.777886 / -71.316132


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