From the Camargue to Ethiopia, throughout his rich photographic career, Hans Silvester always found a moment during his reportages to photograph scarecrows. These immobile anthropomorphs, presented at the Villa Simone de Six-Fours (Var), take us on a journey around the world and the artistic dimension of some of them gives their anonymous authors real creator status.
Hans Silvester’s work has three guidelines: Respect and enhancement of Nature, testimony to the habits and customs of the lives of men and women as well as their environments. From the people of the Omo Valley to the women of Karpathos without forgetting the bowlers of Vaucluse, his work constitutes an exceptional heritage in which the scarecrows participate.
The scarecrows are made with what their designers find and their ingenuity is part of their artistic talent. Far from the critical dimension of Arte Povera, they borrow its creative codes to create unique characters: “This art of the ephemeral, strangely contemporary in its sense of recycled materials, of scrap, even of waste, shows the contrary in an admirable way that what no longer serves can always be useful and that the most condemned object can achieve the fullness of meaning if it is touched by the metamorphosis of the creative act!” – Jean-Maurice Rouquette
It is this creative metamorphosis which is at the heart of Hans’ approach: The methodical dimension of his shots, his always identical protocol (natural light, frontal view, centering of the subject) recalls the systematic work of the Bechers and gives all its place to the subject, without artifice.
The exhibition opens with three original circular devices which surround century-old trees. Each tree has 9 pictures of scarecrows looking on in 40×60. These faces seem to challenge the visitor, like the monkeys they are intended to frighten. Then 1 m² panels placed above the jets of the fountain present European scarecrows. Further on, a Zen space presents 4 life-size scarecrows (1.80m), from Asia. Continuing the stroll, the children’s play area of this public park is surrounded by images of the Bench children of Ethiopia. A path leads to a meadow whose lawn is surrounded by 12 full-length scarecrows. The exhibition ends in the vegetable garden where other photographs are scattered.
“This raw, naive, original art, evoking the natives with their regional clothing, ragged or elegant, tragic or lordly, is full of humor and arouses curiosity.” says Henry de Lumley, Marseille prehistorian, Tautavel expert and director of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.
Hans Silvester : Le tour du monde des épouvantails
From September 23 to November 19, 2023
Villa Simone, Six-Fours les plages, Var