In Summer 2017 I was invited to paint at the Label Valette Festival in Pressigny-les-Pins a small village some 2 hours drive from Paris. The Festival took place on the grounds of the La Valette Chateau where the Spanish state used to have a boarding school until the 1970ies.
Before that it was used by Spanish Republicans as a save-heaven for political immigrants and later, after the victory of the Fascists by the Francoists.
In Pressigny-les-Pins itself the Front National is very popular which made it even more important to me to paint something worthwhile. I settled for ‘Liberte’. It addresses the increasing loss of private liberty and the raise of right-wing populists and their vile rhetoric. A full description of the piece can be found here.
I was a bit afraid to paint this motive in this way in France. Not only did I smack in the walls to create bullet holes but I also ‘decorated’ the ground with replica bullets that I got from an ex-legionnaire working as a grounds-keeper. Also, I dripped blood splatters (red paint) from the building’s entry to the room where I painted in the second floor. Some old doors where put as Tricolore opposite the painting and I attached a long explanation in both French and English. Still, I was afraid, if I had gone too far.
The ex-legionnaire was impressed but more importantly a girl who had lost her brother in the Bataclan attack. She said it was intense and hits the spot but also that it was important. It still sends shivers down my spine but I am happy with it.