The Monastery of Sainte-Marie de La Tourette, near Lyon in France, was designed by Le Corbusier in the mid-50s. These days it is still home to an order of Dominican monks but the pilgrims who visit are mostly driven by architectural curiosity rather than spiritual need. Now, to celebrate the building’s 60th birthday, the monks have moved out in order to allow French contemporary artist Francois Morellet to mount an exhibition of his work here.
The curator of the exhibition, Brother Marc Chauveau (one of the monks at the monastry) says, “I’ve seen various exhibitions of Francois Morellet’s work and I thought his work was pertinant, it has a coherance with Corbusier’s architecture. So I contacted him and suggested that he come and see what he could do here.” The artist has installed two large works in the refectory. The work on the end wall of the refectory, Deep Dark Light Blue, is interesting in the context of the refectory’s architecture because the big black crosses reference the cement beams of the refectory. And the fragile, delicate, blue neon references the lines on the refectory floor. The other work in the refectory, “Beaming Pi” could be seen to reference a much-loved old sophistry whereby God and Pi can be shown to be the same thing. Brother Marc says that the artist had originally intended to place the work in the centre of the room but in the end preferred to install it around one of Le Corbusier’s pillars. Brother Marc says he found it amusing – that he said he was tickling Le Corbusier’s architecture. A work called the White Square serves as a reflection on the textures of the building. Brother Marc says he chose this work with Francois Morellet, this white square tilted onto one corner “because it contrasted very very well with the walls of the monastery which are made of concrete covered with waves of a kind of finely textured pebbledash which results in a kind of vibration of light and shadow. But the White Square – smooth, white, a total contrast… for me it’s a real visual silence, an invitation to visual silence.” A light sculpture is called Lamentable is placed in the chapel where normally the monks say Mass. Brother Marc comments, “Francois Morellet realised that his artwork was gaining an added dimension by being here. He was really amazed when he saw his works in the refectory and this one in here. And he said “I’ve never seen my work displayed so well!” The exhibition is part of the Contemporary Art Biennale of Lyon and can be visited daily until the 8th November. For more information about the Biennale see: tagURLhttp://www.biennaledelyon.com/contemporaryart2009/￼