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French street art pioneer opens new career exhibition

Work by one of the pioneers of French street art over the past 57 years is now on show in a new exhibition in Avignon.

More than 400 works created by Ernest Pignon-Ernest between 1962 and 2019 are now available to see at the “Ecce Homo” exhibition held at the Grande Chapelle du Palais des Papes in Avignon. The exhibition will run until 29 February 2020.

The works include finished pieces, preparatory sketches, photographs, and collages; arranged to show the changing intellectual, political, and artistic style of the artist over the past 57 years.

Originally from Nice, Mr Pignon-Ernest became famous in France in the 1970s. His work appeared all over the country, but the artist was especially well-known for his portrait of the iconic, bohemian and Surrealist 19th century French poet Arthur Rimbaud.

This piece, originally found by a motorway near Mr Rimbaud's hometown of Charleville-Mézières, was saved by an admirer when its condition began to deteriorate.

Speaking about the piece, Mr Pignon-Ernest has said: “The drawing is in a poor state, but that is the most ‘Rimbalian’ thing about my history - they are images that are not stiff or frozen. To make Arthur Rimbaud in marble would be idiocy!"

The artist himself has been very involved in this new exhibition, and has taken a leading role in selecting the pieces on show, and in curating the story and “artist’s journey” presented.

In January 2020, Mr Pignon-Ernest is expected to create a new piece of work “on site” in the church exhibition hall, in the Trésor Bas space of the Palais des Papes.

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