Association des Amis de Chomo unveils new website!
The Association des Amis de Chomo has unveiled their new website! Filled with amazing pictures, videos, and more of the Village d’art préludien by Roger Chomeaux, known as Chomo (1907-1999), the website is a wonderful resource for those interested in the documentation of and advocacy for art environments.
Since his first meeting with Chomo in 1975, Laurent Danchin, a beloved SPACES board member who passed away in 2017, was instrumental in the preservation of and advocacy for Chomo’s Village d’art préludien environment in France, organizing conservation efforts and thoroughly documenting the various stages of the artist’s transformation of his property.
Chomo was an artist, painter, sculptor, musician, poet, filmmaker, and environment builder who lived for forty years as a hermit tucked away in the woods of Fontainebleau, France, on land purchased by his wife during the Second World War.
Even as a young man Roger Chomeaux had a passion for art. He attended art school in Valenciennes and the École des Beaux Arts in Paris (1926-1928), but, to earn his living, worked in the Paris area as a carpet decorator. During World War II, he was taken prisoner and deported to Poland. After the war, back in France, he continued to actively create art work in such media as gouache and ceramics, and he even experimented with film. It was at this time that he began using the name Chomo.
Eventually, Chomo and his family moved to a country house located in Achères-la-Forêt, in a forested region south of Paris. In the following years he began transforming this site into an art environment, creating a variety of constructions and buildings with the use of recycled materials. Among the works were l´Église des Pauvres (The Church of the Poor), le Sanctuaire des Bois Brûlés (The Shrine of the Burned Woods) and le Refuge (the Shelter).
In the mid-sixties Chomo moved permanently to this wooded site, expanding the art environment while at the same time continuing with a variety of other artistic projects as well, including painting, sculpting, weaving carpets, writing poetry, playing music, and making films. He preferred the solitude and simple life in the woods, as he felt it helped him to preserve his artistic freedom. His work, however, was becoming known, and beginning in the 1970s visitors would come to see what he had begun to call his Village d’art préludien [Village of Preludian Art]. He taught them his conception of art and his critical vision of contemporary society. At his death, he left his children (now in their 80s and without heirs of their own) a series of buildings constructed from plaster, grills, bottles, and recycled lumber or branches. He lived in a small prefab house without heating or water.
Laurent Danchin met Chomo while living near Achères-la-Forêt in 1975, and he became president of the Chomo Friends Association and one of Chomo's closest friends and collaborators. He wrote extensively on Chomo and his creations, and worked tirelessly to promote the site through visits, conferences, and presentations. The Association, while focusing on Chomo’s work, intends to broaden their reach in the defense of all art environments and the memory of their authors.