The Royal Abbey of Fontevraud is hosting a highly original exhibition by Julien Salaud in the cellars of the abbess?s house.

Lurking in the dark galleries of the underground, the white ladies of this young artist, winner of the Salon de Montrouge, spread their graceful wings of white thread in a sumptuous ballet of light and shadow. Like the barn owl, whose eyes need fifty times less light than human eyes to see clearly, we walk through the half-light before discovering the first installation, which seems to evoke the heavy toll paid by owls until recently. Victims of superstition, they were nailed, wings spread wide, to barn doors to ward off bad luck. Around the night bird, a prism of constellations dances across the dark skies.

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In a perfect hemisphere, another painting reveals a couple and a scarecrow perched on a skull, while a being with a diabolical face points a sword at her heart. Here, everything is symbolic: a language of infinity where man is supposed to bring light with his outstretched hand, a land that is a temple to love and death, luminous spectres whose destinies seem to explode within the celestial vault, a vanity that reminds us of the fragility and transience of life.

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Detail : Vanity with owl inspired by an anonymous 17th-century painting in the Musée des Beaux-arts in Dijon.

In this fantastic choreography, between the stone arches and on the vaults, the bird of wisdom becomes the dancer of an ephemeral world. In the silence of the crypt, the magic happens. Using only nails, wires and skilfully-directed light, the artist shares with us his sensitivity and a poetic imagination.

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Text and Photos Brigitte Postel

Exhibition on view until spring 2016
49590 Fontevraud-l'Abbaye