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Prix Picassiette Chartres 2014: Mi reportage para CMA

Hoy simplemente deseo presentaros el reportage sobre el X premio en arte en mosaico Prix Picassiette que Pam Givens, fundadora y administradora del grupo internacional de Arte Contemporaneo en Mosaico (Contemporary Mosaic Art- CMA) me ofrecio la oportunidad de escribir para ser publicado en CMA, grupo al que pertenezco y aunque escrito en ingles podeis usar Google translate si estais interesados en leer su contenido:




It was back in the early Summer months when it was announced, via social media, that some mosaicists I knew of intended to travel to Chartres for the opening of the 10th Rencontres Internationales de Mosaique where the Prix Picassiette would be held. Having missed the opening ceremony of my first visit to an international mosaic event during Ravenna Mosaico 2013, I soon made up my mind to travel to Chartres and be there for the opening ceremony. I felt it would be a great opportunity not only to view fantastic mosaic art but also to meet in person mosaicists with whom I had been in contact via CMA and other Internet based mosaic sites. As the weeks passed, my anticipation mounted.

My four day stay in Chartres, a small French city an hour’s train journey from Paris, commenced with the joy of meeting a few fellow mosaicists on Friday, the day before the inauguration of the three exhibitions arranged for this year’s edition of the Prix Picassiette. There was also a fabulous party I thoroughly enjoyed on Saturday night arranged by Sylvie Rebiffe-Biondi. Those of us who chose to attend had a great opportunity to socialise within a more relaxed setting and needless to say the buffet we had was very tasty and extremely well presented.

Image 1 Opening ceremony

Chartres 2014 commenced on Saturday with the official opening of the Rencontres Internationales de Mosaique held at the beautiful old chapel of Lycee Fulbert which was attended by local dignitaries, members of the committee that run the French mosaic association 3R, mosaic artists whose work was been exhibited and visitors like myself. The chapel was crowded with artists and mosaic lovers. During the opening speech, in French that sadly was not translated into other languages, the atmosphere was charged with the excitement of meeting more mosaic artists and eagerness to view the exhibits.

As you would expect, the opening ceremony was a celebration of the event itself, the organizer’s hard work and the artists’ whose work was being exhibited. My time at the opening ceremony was spent admiring some of the works of art in between greeting and conversing with different people. For me, it was hard to resits the temptation of casting a brief glance over some of the many great mosaics on display while talking to those I met.

Image 2

It was great being able to hear specific artists commenting on their own work and having an opportunity to discuss particular pieces. I was happy to stop to chat when someone would ask me what my thoughts were on a particular mosaic. Critiquing these pieces was something I really enjoyed as sharing thoughts and ideas lead to an interesting and greater insight into the pieces we were talking about. This exchange of ideas was one of the most enjoyable aspects of visiting an exhibition in the company of so many mosaic lovers and artists.

As lunch time approached, I knew I would need to return for a second viewing when the venue would be less crowded and the temptation of talking with others would not be a distraction so that I could really admire the large number of fabulous mosaics on display. Lunch at one of the many outdoor terraces dotted across the old part of Chartres in the company of fellow mosaicists and friends was a great opportunity to enjoy the relaxed socialising that comes when you visit a mosaic exhibition during its opening, a great experience I hope to repeat one day.


The inauguration of the second exhibition, an homage to the great artist Ines Morigi Berti who sadly passed away recently, held within the Chapel of Saint Eman, was a memorable beginning of an afternoon during which mosaic art would continue to inspire and ignite my imagination. This homage presented a synopsis of Morigi Berti’s body of work within the context of mosaics done by some of her past students who are internationally well known and respected mosaic artists such as Babini, Bartolotti, Bignami, Costa, De Luca, Fattirini, Landi and Notturni.

The joy of seeing within the same exhibition works of art by such a well respected and admired artist as Morigi Berti next to the works of some of my all time favourite mosaic artists was one of my highlights from Chartres 2014.

I could go on about the mosaics within this exhibition but having to pick a single piece that would encapsulate my admiration for Morigi Berti as an artist, I would choose “Omaggio a Bracque”, a work of art in which Morigi Berti skilfully demonstrated what a unique, accomplished and exciting artist she truly was. With ”Omaggio a Bracque”, I could argue how Morigi Berti skilfully presents us with a deep understanding, passion and respect for what is the essence of classic mosaic art at the same time that she subtly but confidently converses with the essence of what constitutes contemporary mosaic art. While admiring “Omagio a Bracque” I was blown away by her subtle references to elements found within classic Greek pebble mosaics that beautifully complement and enhance her sophisticated and elegant minimalism, two qualities I have come to admire within contemporary art forms.

Image 4 BAMM's exhibition

Brittamosaica was the third exhibition we were presented with during the day’s proceedings, a collection of 15 works from members of BAMM held at the Musee des Beaux-Arts within the cloister of Chartres cathedral. I would have difficulty choosing my favourite piece in this exhibition. However, my imagination was caught by the unique but different approaches when using slate as media within the works of Helen Nock, Dugald Macinness and Line Mortensen; by the strong architectural and geometric elements present within the work of artists such as Joanna Kessel and Nathalie Vin or by the expert and confident handling of colour and cutting portrayed within each individual mosaic artist whose work I admired.

Getting back to the mosaics shown in the main exhibition at the Lycee Fulbert, I could go on talking about what captivated my imagination within each individual piece competing for the Prix Picassiette in its several categories but doing so would take too long so instead I will briefly outline what fired my imagination and would summarize my experience of the 10th Rencontres Internationales de Mosaique 2014.

Image 5 Gary Drostle

Gary Drostle’s “Shrapnel 1914- War is a gun with a worker at each end” was exhibited in what I considered to be the most prominent place; its beauty, technical and aesthetic merits certainly justified it been exhibited in that position. In this piece Drostle’s flawless technical and aesthetic expertise as a mosaic artist presented the viewers with an idea superbly expressed within mosaic as an art form. This piece is very moving, engaging and most certainly would not fail to cause an emotional response on those who view it. The second place awarded to this piece is well deserved.


As visitors, we all had an opportunity to cast a vote that would determine the public’s favourite piece and thus my vote for best in show was awarded to Agnes Bethlen’s “Nue”, a work of art that presented a bold take on the nude human form and executed with a monochromatic palette. Bethles’s cutting and andamento were superb while her handling of light and shadow created a very realistic and soft sense of depth within the composition. What most attracted me to this piece was Bethlen’s flawless aesthetic and technical expertise as a mosaic artist, beautifully expressed through a blurring of the boundaries between the nude form and the background without loosing definition of anatomical details. On close inspection, this blurring was less prominent as greater definition was achieved thanks to the use of subtle cutting variations introduced to create precise definition within the human form. Within that boundary, the beauty of those subtle differences made me think of what Rothko would have created should he have translated one of his paintings into a mosaic.

Another reason why I felt Bethlen’s piece was the best in show refers to the exquisite vertical movement within the background, expressed through the introduction of long and thin pieces of slate that contrasted with the andamento and cutting used within the rest of the background.

Several mosaics fitted what I consider “perfection” within mosaic art, a perfection that causes my heart to miss a beat: that is what I experienced when I first saw “Nue”.

Image 7 Annie Dunlup

Annie Dunlop’s “Contrast” was another piece that impressed me with its “wow factor”. A “wow factor” closely linked to her attention to detail and the beauty within her technical and artistic abilities when expressing her art with mosaic as a medium; a beauty that is simply matched by an imaginative use of media not forgetting the metal inclusions that perfectly matched the natural beauty of the large pieces of slate used. Her succinct and confident approach to colour softened a rawness inherent in her use of media that makes fora striking composition. Her highly “manicured” cutting variations and andamenti created a fabulous transitional and vertical sense of movement beautifully enhanced by a restrained yet elegant use of golden tesserae as an accent. Dunlop is without doubt one of the most exciting artists I have recently discovered.

Image 8 Laurent's work

Armatures within 3D or sculptural mosaics was an area I wanted to pay close attention to during this mosaic experience and I certainly had plenty of opportunities to admire some incredibly beautiful and inspiring pieces within this category . Among my favourites, I would have to mention Marie Odile Laurent’s “La Poule aux oeufs d’or musifs”. I can only start guessing some of the technical complexities involved in creating such an intricate armature, a beautiful creation in its own right. I would say that the aesthetic value within this stunning mosaic sculpture resides in the inherent beauty within the armature; a beauty accentuated by an imaginative and highly expressive use of media, a restrained but calculated use of colour accents and an expressive cutting which created a richly textured surface.

Image 9 Rosa Coupe

With regards to the use of substrates for its aesthetic element within a mosaic, Rosa Coupe’s and Nathalie Vin’s work certainly were inspiring and caught my imagination. Both artists presented us with a work of art where the substrate is a highly aesthetic integral element within the composition. Coupe’s work, recycles a beautiful flat and round metal structure that becomes a kind of grid where the interstices were filled with tesserae cut in rather irregular shapes. The geometry within this metal substrate beautifully enhances the rather organic and soft feel Coupe’s use of media and colour introduced within this rather unassuming but stunning work of art.

Image 10 Nathalie Vin

Nathalie Vin’s creation presents a bold and confident approach to mosaic art in which a great proportion of the substrate is on show and becomes an integral part within the composition that accentuates the sense of movement and its rhythms. As a substrate, within “Multiverse” Vin exploits its smooth and very flat white surface in a very creative, original and daring manner to enhance the strong sense of movement; a sense of movement accentuated by superimposing two very distinctive types of media with its respective strong and contrasting andamenti. Within contemporary mosaic art, the use of a substrate to frame and accentuate the overall beauty of a composition is something few artists have portrayed as beautifully as Vin has done within “Multiverse”,a very moving, engaging and perfectly executed piece of art.


As some of you may already know, I feel a special affinity towards pebble mosaic art and Pascale Beauchamps’ “Stele interieur lunieres” was a joy to look at. Her piece represented a minimalist yet elegant approach to pebble mosaic art that confidently demonstrates the artistic possibilities such humble material can afford to those who dare use it in such an imaginative and creative manner as Beauchamp so elegantly shows us within “Stele interieur lunieres”.

Imge 12 Conny Van Der Winder

Within contemporary mosaic art, few times have artists presented the mosaic world with a composition that incorporates actual movement. The concept of a moving mosaic really captivates me not only from an artistic view point but also as a piece of technology and having had the opportunity to see in person Conny Van Der Wende’s moving mosaic “First Changes” was a really nice experience. Within “First Changes”, I admire the technical challenges Van Der Wende had to overcome to ensure a smooth and soundless movement within the different moving parts that form this stunning and innovative master piece. The intermittent, smooth and gently rotation in opposite direction of the different moving rings added to the great sense of depth the artist so skilfully portrays through her use of cutting and tonal progression. Taking into account the optical illusion within “First Changes” that creates a 3D effect within a totally flat surface demonstrates what an accomplished and exciting artist Van Der Wende really is. I feel “First Changes” would have been a mosaic Escher would have created should he have expressed his art using mosaic as an art form.

I would like to end my report on Chartres 2014 by introducing the artists’ whose work I personally found to be the most thought provoking, daring and the ones whose approach to mosaic art had in a sense the greatest impact and made me reflect the most on what I consider to be mosaic art. For that reason I am glad I had an opportunity to admire the entries presented by Amado Fishgrund, Neda Parsa and Stefan Wolters.

Image 13 Amado Fishgrund

Amado Fishgrund’s bold and daring use of media presented a provocative composition with inclusions in the form of an animal jaw with several of its teeth still in place. The raw beauty of this piece was enhanced by a vibrant yet restrained use of colour; a use of colour and tone that served to accentuate the organic feel in the composition. The sense of beauty within this piece was accentuated by the setting of few tesserae within the bone itself.

Image 14 Neda Parsa

Neda Parsa’s “Chocolate 1” and “Chocolate 2” are two pieces in which the artist subtly presents us the results and beauty within an exploration into different mosaic techniques and an imaginative use of different media you would not normally associate with mosaic art. An exploration and artistic expression that resulted in an innovative and unique approach to mosaic art beautifully accentuated by the use of highly textured inclusions such as wool pompoms and hand knitted pieces using wool and coper wire, a range of inclusions that enabled Parsa to create a very tactile and sensuous feel within her work at the same time that it allowed her to express the rich textures and flavours you would expect when opening a nice box of chocolates. Overall, a great conceptual interpretation beautifully executed.

Image 15 Stefan Wolters

Stefan Wolters’ “Incubation” was the piece that stimulated me the most not only as a work of art but also as a mosaic installation in which light and sound were an integral part of what constituted a fun piece of mosaic art. Wolters’ entry really required a close inspection to be able to appreciate it to the fullest and to understand its essence not only for its technical and aesthetic merits but also for its bold approach to some of the elements that constitute mosaic art. This bold approach together with a rather unorthodox use of media specially with reference to gold smalti added to the subtle beauty expressed within this installation; an installation in which Wolters’ sense of fun and playful nature complemented the use of mosaic art as a means of expressing an idea.

I could continue talking about what attracted me to every other piece I was able to admire during the time I spent visiting this exhibition but this would be impracticable for the purpose of this paper so I hope you enjoyed reading my thoughts on the pieces that impacted on me the most for reasons I have detailed.

Chartres as an international mosaic event is a wonderful experience that has its unique and peculiar feel and charm. I feel its great success and international recognition are translating into a large selection of mosaics been exhibited within a somewhat limited space and as a result some of the works of art could have been slightly better displayed should there have been more wall space. Having said that, I must extend my most sincere congratulations not only to each and everyone of the artists for the extremely high standard achieved in each and every work of art been exhibited but also to the organizers of such successful mosaic event as the 10th Prix Picassiette has been.

I certainly would not hesitate to recommend visiting this event in subsequent editions to anybody who is considering it and hope I would also have an opportunity to do so in the future. Besides, not having a chance to visit Maison Picassiette would be my excuse should I ever need one to go back. I did not have enough time and could not let pass the joy of a guided tour around such a jewel as Chartres Gothic cathedral is. This cathedral is recognized worldwide as the best and finest example of Gothic architecture to be found in the whole of Europe and as such has been granted the status of UNESCO Word Heritage Site. What a joy to acquaintance myself with the best ancient stained glass and XII century stone carving to be found in Europe!

Image 16 Defrosting a stoned world

My gratitude to Stefan Wolters for kindly letting me use his images to illustrate my narrative is matched by my admiration for his art and creativity not only as a mosaicist but also as a photographer whose ongoing project “Defrosting a stoned world” not only enables him to express his artistic nature but also brings together two of his passions, photography and mosaic art. Two art forms Wolters continues to exploit so creatively to illustrate how effectively mosaic as an art form can be used to convey a thought, express an idea and to bring people together. I have followed this project via the internet and I was pleased to see Wolters continuing to expand on this concept at these exhibitions. I look forward to seeing how this creative and fun projects develops.