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Art with bare feet

Visit to the Carmignac Foundation, an island with 300 contemporary works to live a spiritual experience

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Art with bare feet
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To get to this foundation you have to go on a boat and n cross a forest delimited by impressive cliffs and a yellow sandy beach. When crossing door, visitor should take off his shoes and ingest a medicinal concoction prepared by a local druid. Only n will it be ready to enter belly of this Provençal abode located on French island of Porquerolles, just seven kilometres from Côte d'azur. The Carmignac Foundation will open its doors this Saturday in this haven of peace ideal for banishing volunteers, known for its natural park and hiking trails. From now on, we will have to place it on contemporary art map as well.

"There were places more easily accessible, but y did not provide same sensations," explains his promoter, Édouard Carmignac, sitting on one of terraces of this particular pinacoteca. "The idea is to leave behind virtual world, which is becoming more and more invasive. It's about forgetting phones and computers. It is a place where to pause and to make contact with oneself ", explains in a Castilian pristine, inheritance of a childhood that passed in Peru. This discreet millionaire of 70 years, who made a fortune in asset management, dreamed for decades to open a private museum where to expose his collection, consisting of some 300 works of first level.

Seventy of se works are displayed in opening exhibition, by classics such as Warhol, Lichtenstein, Rothko, Calder or Basquiat and today's art stars such as Maurizio Cattelan, John Baldessari, Cindy Sherman or Marlene Dumas. In addition, Miquel Barceló appears doubly in course: he signs a chapel full of acrylic cuttlefish and a sculpture that represents Alicastro, a sea monster that, according to legend, would populate island since time immemorial. More than that concatenation of names, it is sensory and even spiritual approach to collection that causes greater surprise. "It is my way of approaching art: spontaneous and instinctive, but also transcendental. Art takes you away from your everyday life and your usual thoughts, "says Carmignac, who sees in his collection a necessary counterpoint to his activities as an entrepreneur.

Enlarge Photo The island of Porquerolles, headquarters of Carmignac Foundation. Eric Valli

For its asceticism and its connection with nature, proposal keeps similar reasonable with that of certain Japanese museums, like those of islands of Naoshima and Teshima, founded by businessman Fukutake with competition of architect Tadao Ando. Neverless, selection of works and chosen staging are more conventional than in those Asian art galleries, where re are rooms with only one work and numerous installations in total immersion. On or hand, in Carmignac Foundation collection is ready in a series of matic microspaces of titles something earful – "Oedipal disobedience", one of m says, before which it is not always understood why it was necessary to take off shoes. "It's about breaking shell to be in direct contact with ground," says Carmignac. "Without shoes we can feel stone and energies of Earth circulate better," he seconded his son Charles, 40 years old member of group of Folk Moriarty, who assumed direction of center a year and a half ago.

However, space is an undeniable triumph. The rooms are underground, because all construction is prohibited in this national park. In central gallery, an outdoor pool filters out light and provides illusory feeling that we are under water. On outside, visitor can be lost by a land of 15 hectares full of olive, eucalyptus and lavender, as well as a vineyard that produces biological wine. Different sculptures, commissioned by Carmignac for occasion, are scattered throughout perimeter. For example, an advertising billboard signed by Ed Ruscha, a labyrinth of mirrors by Jeppe Hein, marble eggs devised by Nils Udo and three mysterious effigies by Jaume Plensa, which first walkers compared with statues of Easter Island. If it's not religion, it looks like it. From stone bank that has placed in front of m, Charles Carmignac says to aspire that visitor realise on this island "a physical journey, but also mental". "I don't have an academic look, but I can contribute things I've learned during my 20 years in music," says heir. "I'm going to try to reach those moments of grace that we can feel at a concert. I am convinced that art can also produce that collective ecstasy. "

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