I promised, a post on the Belgian artist Folon, who fell in love with Florence and provided us with the most magic images in his last exhibition in 2005, in Forte Belvedere. While that was 10 years ago many of his works still adorn the city and his spirit lives on here.
At the exhibition it was a delight to wander past pastel watercolours of fantasy figures, or bronze sculptures of characters – bookworms, clock heads, where fish may fly, business men carry dreams and circus figures perform….we had walked through the looking glass into Folon’s wonderland!
And I did it with kids who just adored it, playing amongst the characters creating their own fantasies till dusk fell and we collapsed on the storytellers lap to hear the last tale of the day.
Folon was born in 1934 in Belgium, a great traveller and an ardent creator of murals, collages, etchings, animated films and finally sculptures. He thought Florence was a magical place and would be more than happy to know that after his death his wife donated many of his sculptures to Italy, mostly to Florence. Folon was always very particular about where and how his work was displayed believing that “sculpting never finds its completion, the seasons will continue the work and will give it the colour of time”.( www.fondationfolon.be )
Fish man fountain
Man with dream case
I am sure he would be pleased with the location of the 12 sculptures now permanently displayed in the Rose garden of Florence, just below Piazzale Michelangelo, with a fabulous panorama of the city. It’s an ideal place to take time out, relax on the grass, and avoid the crowds in the square. It’s open all day and it’s free!
I don’t get the chance to go there much but am lucky to drive past my favourite fountain ‘umbrella man’ almost every day. And any tourist staying at the Hilton Hotel at Rome airport will see another of his statues there and many elsewhere in the world.
Not long after the Folon exhibition was the first tragic accident which closed Forte Belvedere until 2013. It reopened with a fantastic exhibition “Soul and Matter” by Zhang Huan «Art cannot change the world but it can raise the questions and help more people to think about the future in a wider contest»