December 12, 2017

Pierre Sourisseau, Jardin, musée et chemin creuse/Garden, museum and hollow road

view from the street

The picture above shows a modest sculpture garden in la Croix-Bara, a hamlet belonging to the  french community of Saint-Mars-la-Réorthe in the department Vendée, France. The garden is part of of a three-part art environment, which also includes a museum and a sculpture trail.

Life and works

The artist who created this art environent, Pierre Sourisseau, was born in 1939 in Saint-Paul-en-Pareds, a community in the vicinity of la Croix-Bara. Except for the period he was in the military, Sourisseau lived in the Vendée area, working until his retreat in 1999 as a mason.

At age twenty, in 1959, he was conscripted in the military for 28 months. He was sent to Algeria where the Franco-Algerian War (1954-1962) raged. In later years he would often say that he was glad that in those years he never had to kill anyone. Nevertheless this period has impressed him very much, what is expressed in his artistic work.

Already as a young man Sourisseau had the desire to make visual art and in 1975 as a self-taught artist he actually began making paintings and sculptures, an activity he would continue for the rest of his life, resulting in a large number of creations.

The garden

In the garden in front of his house, Sourisseau has displayed a small number of his sculptures, which he as far as I understand makes from clay.

The one in front depicts Charles Deslandes and the rider on horseback is the Cavalier du Landreau, both famous people from Vendée's history.

The garden also includes a bust of former french president Sarkozy and his wife.

The museum

Sourisseau's museum is housed in two small buildings annex the residential house.  It contains a variety of his paintings and sculptures, but also textual expressions, such as a genealogy of his ancestors.

Much attention is paid to the Algerian war and the War in the Vendée, an uprising of the region in 1793 during the french revolution, that was tackled with draconian measures, took many lives and contributed a lot to the identity of the region.

this picture and the next five (june 2015) from website

The sculpture trail

Currently Sourisseau is mainly engaged with his Chemin Creux, a sculpture trail he started to create in 2000. 

The trail is a rural hollow road, once a Roman road, starting at 500 meters from his house, about 1,2 km long, flanked by around 50 different creations. It is probably unique in the field of french art environments ¹.

Among the creations along the trail one will find sculptures that depict people who have played an important role in the history of the Vendee,  in particular those with a leading position during the 1793 uprising.

haut-relief dedicated to Clemenceau

Various creations are dedicated to politicians, such as Georges Clemenceau, who was France's prime minister during the first World War. but also contemporary ones, such as Nicolas Sarkozy, who was president of France from 2007-2012.

haut-relief dedicated to one of the mayors of the community

The sculpture trail also includes portraits of three mayors of Saint-Mars-la-Réorthe, former ones such as Joseph Halleux and Jean-Claude Ageneau (picture above) and the current one Gerard Préau, mayor since march 2014. A regional newspaper reported in april 2015 about the unveiling of the artwork dedicated to the new mayor. 

Along the trail one can also find miniature scenes in memory of special events in the region such as the landing of a plane right next to the Croix-Bara, but then there are also creations with an amusing approach, such as an elephant hidden in the grass with a trunk that serves as a pipe to water a brook, or a fallen tree with large roots and wheels, named Tractosaur.

The sculpture trail can be visited freely by the public. In the month of August the regional tourist office of the Pays des Herbiers arranges guided tours along the sculpture trail.

* Bruno Montpied, article (august 2012) about Sorisseau on his weblog and also in his book Le Gazouillis des éléphants Paris (Ed. du Sandre), 2017. -p.707-713. (To my knowledge Montpied is the only French publicist about outsider art and art environments who wrote on the internet about Sourisseau's artwork)

¹ There are sculpture trails made by self-taught artists in other countries in Europe, such as those made by Edvin Hevonkoski in Finland, Frank Bruce in Scotland, Jacques Vandewattyne in BelgiumVáclav Levý in the Czech Republic and Dmitry Tanchev in Russia.

Pierre Sourisseau
Jardin sculpté, musée, chemin creuse
Croix-Bara, Vendée, Pays de la Loire
-the garden can be seen from the road
-the museum can be visited on appointment
-the sculpture trail can be visisted freely (in august the 
tourist office of the Pays des Herbiers may organise guided visits)

December 01, 2017

Benjamin Somov, дом с пушками и мемориальный комплекс/House with guns and a memorial complex

In front of a house along Soveskaya Street in the community of  Dal'neye Konstantinovo, some 70 kms south of Nizni Novgorod, Russia, a number of guns are lined up. They are replicas of guns as were used in the war of Russia against Napoleon (1812), single-handedly made by self-taught artist Benjamin Somov.

Life and works

Born in 1928 in Malikova, a neighbourhood of Dal'neye Konstantinovo, Somov at a young age already showed his solidarity with the military by in 1944, sixteen years old, joining as a volunteer the Russian army and going to the front in the war with Germany.

After the war he continued for some time his military service. Then he returned to his homeland to live as an ordinary citizen. 

Well, that is to say, he worked as a blacksmith and a driver, he was practising natural healing, but what he experienced on the war front had struck him so deeply that he had to seek ways to express his feelings.

Somov found a way out in artistic activities. Although he had enjoyed no training at all in making artworks (he actually had just some four years of primary education), he began making sculptures, mainly busts of military people, but also of other personalities.

Currently, some of these busts, decorated with military attributes such as medals, insignia or ammunition holders, still are on display in the living room of the family home.

And then, watching the various guns in front of the house a bust of Lenin is on display in the garden, while on the roof a bust of a soldier keeps the watch over the site.

The memorial complex

In retrospect one might say that the period of making small sculptures was a preparation for what would become Somov's life's work.

In the 1990's, on a field in Dal'neye Konstantinovo's neighbourhood Simbiley,  Somov began creating more than life-size sculptures.  It became a memorial complex, mainly in honor of soldiers who perished in wars in which Russia was involved (the following five pictures by 4enix on touristic website 

The picture left above shows one of the first creations, a pillar of reinforced concrete with a simple orhodox crucifix at the top, a monument to the victims of the Russian-Japanese war.

Top right is a picture of the monument to the victims of the Afghan war, which has kind of a grave fence and a fluttering flag. The bars of the fence are pierced, which produces a complaining sound as the wind blows through the holes.

The two pictures above depict the monument to the victims of Stalin's repression.  The picture at the left shows a touching detail: two chaincuffed hands on man-sized poles sticking out of the earth. At the right the entire monument with in top tow flat bells which nevertheless can produce sound. 

To conclude this series of pictures of the memorial complex, above picture of a rather special monument.

Somov made this monument, a huge cross with crossbars decorated with rivets, in honor of the victims of future wars and of armed struggle among civilians..... A sculpture made on the basis of such a philosophy is probably unique, not only in Russia but also elsewhere in the world.

Among the other honored people are Russian participants in the Spanish Civil War, soldiers who died during the Russian camp in Finland and crew members of a wrecked Russian submarine.

Somov made the altogether eleven high-rising sculptures at the memorial complex from surplus and used materials and he paid himself for necessities such as cement.

at home Somov keeps photo books of his sculptures

Somo's creations seen as a mega art environment

Both the collection of guns in the front of the family home and the sculptures of the memorial complex can be seen as art environments in their own right. 

However, because both sites have the same basic theme and are based on the same philosophical view, it seems appropriate to view the totality of displayed artworks as a mega art environment, in the sense given to that designation by the Russian philosopher and creator of an art environment, Alexander Emelyanov.

In short, in Emelyanov's view most creators of an art environment act on the basis of a relatively simple philosophy which just involves the satisfaction that arises from embellishing their daily environment. However, a few creators, who seek self-confirmation by expressing themselves in artwork, operate on a more fundamental philosophical level which implies that their artworks can be denoted as mega art environment.

a view of the interior of Somov's home

Somov's theme in its most fundamental version is warfare and his philosophy, which is most strongly expressed in his sculpture for the future victims of war, those that have not yet been born, seems to be that warfare is inherent in human society. True or not, it is a rather fundamental philosophical view and so in my opinion, Somov's artwork deserves to be classifed as a mega art environment.


* Video by about the memorial complex (2'57", may 2009) 

Benjamin Somov
Ul Soveskaya 151
Dal'neye Konstantinovo, Nizni Novgorod region, Russia
guns in front of the house can be seen from the street
the memorial complex near Simbiley can be visited freely

November 22, 2017

Vasily Artamonov, Скульптуры в городе/Sculptures in town

screenprint from the video in the documentation

The picture above shows some of the sculptures made by Vasily Artamonov, displayed in front of his house in Rylsk, Kursk region, Russia.

It's just a small part of the over two hundred sculptures he created since around 1995. The largest part of his oeuvre has been relocated to various places in the public space in the Kursk region.

Like François Michaud in the 19th century decorated his village Masgot with sculptures or like in
our time a collective of conscripted soldiers embellished the Russian city of Teykovo with their creations, Artamonov has the desire to brighten up the public space with his fairy-tale characters, first of all on spots in his hometown Rylsk, but in line with that also on spots in the public space in other communities in the region of Kursk.

this picture and the next two by Yuri Fedorov 

Life and works

Born in a family with six other children in the small village of Bredy in the Chelyabinsk area in the southern Urals, Artamonov studied at a school for agricultural engineering. He got a job at a farm, married and got a son. However, after a couple of years he experienced this work as too routine.

He felt more attracted to a varied, creative type of work, so he tried growing roses. This was not succesfull and he moved to the Caucasus where he worked as a driver at a small farm owned by a brother.

After his military service he noticed that he longed for the Kursk region, the residential area of his father and grandparents in the west of Russia. So he decided to go there. On the way something happened that was decisive for his further life. He saw a sculpture of a huge dragon with children happily strolling around, laughing and feeling happy.

The scene triggered him and gave him the idea  to undertake something similar. Artamonov could move into the house on Pervomaiskaya Street in Rylsk, where his grandparents and his father, all deceased, had lived before.

Here, around 1995, he made his first creation, a huge dragon. This one was followed by two bears flanking a bench, and a dinosaur. All creations were displayed on the narrow space separating the house from the roadway.

Artamonov's creative project was based upon a philosophy stating that if a whole city has such sculptures, life will be better. Embellish Rylsk with fairy tale characters and the city will shine, it will be a city of happiness and dreams........!

He invited the local authorities to (financially) support such a project, but at that moment they hesitated to make a decision. So Artamonov had to combine his creative activities with various jobs, such as cook, agronomist, driver, plumber and handyman. Currently he works as a guard and driver at the House of Creativity in Rylsk.

But making sculptures was paramount. During his careeer  as a self-taught artist of over twenty years Artamonov focussed especially upon creating sculptures related to Russian fairytales, which for him are a source of joy and patriotism.

When making a sculpture Artamonov first makes a body from sturdy metal elements he welds together and shapes into the desired model. This basis is covered with wire mesh, after which the creation is finished with cement and/or plaster, applied layer after layer.

Creating a sculpture on the average takes two weeks of painstaking work. He works in the warm season, from May till October; in the other months the weather is too cold to work with cement.

Artamonov's sculptures in the streets of Rylsk (screenprint)

As Artamonov's creatve activitiets became rather well-known in and around Rylsk, his dream came true that his work would be displayed in public space in the region.

For example, one day the mayor of the town of Kurchatov, situated some 80 kms east of Rylsk, personally visited Artamonov to inform if the town could buy some sculptures. This resulted in the purchase of twenty sculptures (incidentally for a modest fee), which now are displayed at a park in Kurchatov.

Other sculptures are displayed in playgrounds, parks and kindergartens in the community of Khomutovka (50 km north of Rylsk), Koersk, the capital of the region (some 125 km east of Rylsk), in the community of Koerstsjatov (80 km east of Rysk)  and even in the city of Belgorod in a neighbouring region (some 200 km south-east of Rylsk)

Artamonov's sculptures in the streets of Rylsk (screenprint)

Vasily Artamonov is a modest man who does not care about wealth. A smiling child, enjoying his sculptures is his greatest reward. Convinced that his sculptures can contribute to a better life in the city, he relentlessly continues his creative activities.


Vasily Artamonov
Sculptures in town
Pervomaiskya Street (workshop)
Rylsk, Kursk Oblast, Russia
sculptures in town and in front of his house/workshop

November 16, 2017

Tatyana Pika, Украшенный интерьер в многоквартирном доме/Decorated interior in apartment building

Above pictured high rising apartment building in a suburb of Kiev, Ukraine, in recent years housed an extensive art environment. 

Located on the 13th floor, Tatyana Pika's artwork not only included her own apartment, but also the access area shared with the residents of the other flats on the floor.

In the early months of 2017 the creation was removed.

Life and works

The internet hasn't much biographic information about Tatyana Pika. She was born in 1959 or 1960, studied economy and had a relation with a medical institute. 

It's not impossibe that this medical institute was active in the field of alternative therapy, because it has been reported that Tatyana Pika was convinced that creative activities could help to overcome ailments, like she succeeded in curing herself of cancer. She may have been active as a people's healer.

first sight of the creation from the elevator

In the same way it is possible that she began transforming the communal area of the 13th floor into an art environment to rid the area of evil influences, used as it was as a meeting place for young drug addicts.

Anyway, around 2005 Tatyana began making her creation.

Basically the creation consisted of gypsum- and cement-plastered walls and ceilings, as well as floors with tiles and mosaic.The stucco was applied in such a thick layer that it could be modeled in the form of flowers, shells, birds and all kind of ornaments.

Also numerous decorations were added such as mirrors, shells, special stones from all parts of the world, but also dolls and other toys provided by children from the neighborhood.

Bunches of grapes and berries hang from the ceiling.

The color scheme of the walls was rather particular and impressive. It seems that it was directed upon stimulating halluciogenic or spiritual experiences, which was further enhanced by the use of luminous paint that arose in the otherwise dark-haunted atmosphere.

The reports of people who visited the site often spoke of a psychodelic experience in the transition from the elevator to the site, one reality to another. People said this was so unexpected and fast that it simply gave a shock.

Pictured above is the decorated large tube intended to dispose of the household waste, a usual facility in eastern European residential complexes. A portrait of Christ is bricked up above the flap.

The decorations on the walls include a variety of human characters, such as children as in above picture, women, mythical heroes or Cossacks as in the picture below.

But there also are a lot of depictions of animals, such as eagles, wolves tigers, rabbits, crocodiles....

Tatyana also embellished her own apartment with an exuberant amount of decorations, comparable with those in the communal entrance. The video by Polina Polyakova in the documentation has images of the interior.

It would take Tatyana some five years to give her creation the ultimate appearance and scope she had in mind.

Apart from her own apartment, the 13th floor had three other apartments. Allegedly the neighbors didn't oppose the project, but it is not clear if they assisted in decorating the common access area.

In 2010 for the first time a video of Tatyana's creation was published on You Tube (see documentation).

Summary of the video

In this video Tatyana talks about her motivation to create the decorations ¹.

She says that in doing this she realized a childhood dream about our planet Earth, where people live according to the laws of love, justice and happiness, the most important law being the law of motherhood.

"People have to understand the main thing: who is the mother or all of us? When we come to understand that our planet is our Mother and the Sun is our Father, we will respect and appreciate our own mothers. Only then we will be able to make changes for the better. I started to assemble all these things.

Also, my own experience of dealing with people, my own outlook and my ailment I had to cure- all these things together I asked to answer people all the questions "Why is it happening to me?" answers I have found. We have all the knowledge available in books. But the point is: who really needs it? Everybody wants a better life - wealthy and successful.

But actually, very few people offered me their help or wanted to know how and why I did it. Nobody wanted to join me in my creative work. I had to buy all materials in the Nova linia² and carry heavy bags home ... I was ready to show how I make it. I wanted to realize their dream! But then some people just tried to destroy my work ... "

Tatyana also says it is highly important to analyze the laws of life for raising kids. To love children for parents means to work much on themselves. Fairy-tales for children learn them the laws of harmony. And this site makes this tale real – colourful, bright and happy. Good parents are first of all responsible parents.

Further developments

The site gradually gained more publicity and especially after it was presented in the popular Ukrainian television program Орел и решка (Eagle and tails) the number of curious visitors increased.

In the course of 2016 Tatyana Pika decided to leave her apartment and sell it. Regarding the underlying reasons nothing has come out in publications, but it is conceivable that she felt very disappointed about the indifferent reaction of people around her regarding her creation.

There are reports that she has left abroad

The apartment was sold indeed. The new owner decided to remove all decorations, which was implemented in the first months of 2017.

* Article (2012) on website ArtLine, with a large series of detail photo's of the decorations
* Article (2013) by Artemy Lebedev on his website, also with a large series of photo's 

A selection of videos (more available on You Tube)
* Video by Polina Polyakova The world of Tatiana Pika (9'45", You Tube, published july 2010), with Tatania talking about her creation and shots of the decorations in her apartment


*Video by Quotephoto, showing decorations in the common area (2'33", You Tube, January 2012)

¹ This summary could be  added thanks to Maria Pylypchuk from Ukraine
²  Nova Linia (New Line) is a network of supermarkets or building materials in Ukraine

Tatyana Pika
Decorated interior in apartment building
Radunskaya Street 26, 13th floor
Troieschyna, Kiev, Ukraine
site has been demolished

November 08, 2017

Ninth anniversary of this blog

Bonjour aux promeneurs
Hello walkers
picture of a sculpture by Fernand Chatelain

When on holiday in France in the late 1990's, by chance I visited Picassiette's mosaic decorated house in Chartres. Never heard about such a type of artwork, but very impressed, I started a search for similar creations, first those in France, later those in other european countries.

In 2008, I thought it was time to publish my findings on the internet. So on november 11, 2008, nine years ago, I published my first post in a weblog, named Outsider Environments Europe.

Today this blog exists for nine years and it now includes an inventory of over 400 art environments in a variety of countries in Europe

As in previous years I will relate here some data (as of november 10) about numbers and origin of visitors and about art environments that were most viewed.

Number of visitors

On november 10, 2016 the all time number of visitors was 583287. On november 10, 2017 it was  697157, an increase of 113870, or on the average 312 visitors a day. Over the period 2015-2016 the average was 346.

All time pageviews by country

As in previous years here is the all time rank of top ten countries as regards pageviews:

   1. United States 246640 (rank 2016 idem)
   2. Netherlands  70480 (rank 2016 idem)
   3. France 63440 (rank 2016 idem)
   4. Germany 52103 (rank 2016 idem)
   5. United Kingdom  45788 (rank 2016 idem)
   6. Ukraine 21140 (rank 2016 idem)
   7. Russia 19902 (rank 2016 idem)
   8. Spain 13897 (rank 2016 idem)
   9. Italy 11637 (rank 2016 idem)
 10. Poland 6244 (rank 2016 idem)

The top ten list includes the same countries as in 2016, even in the same order. To my satisfaction the interest from Russia and Eastern Europe is lasting.

Most viewed sites all time

These are the sites with the most all time views (as on november 10):

   1. Abbé Fouré, Sculpted rocks  6308 (rank 2016: 4)
   2. Bill and Elisabeth Charge, Shell garden  6032 (rank 2016: 1)
   3. Joseph Ferdinand Cheval, Palais Idéal  5441 (rank 2016: 2)
   4. Robert Garcet, Tour Eben-Ezer 5127 (rank 2016: 3)
   5. Jose Maria Garrido, Shell decorated interior  4607 (rank 2016: 6)
   6. Robert Tatin, Singular architecture  4392 (rank 2016: 5)
   7. Bodan Litnianski, Decorated garden 3987 (rank 2016: idem)
   8. Chomo, Préludian art 3699 (rank 2016: idem)
   9. Francisco Grajera, Decorated house 3440 (rank 2016: 11)
 10. Joseph Pujiula i Vila, Labyrinth 3284 (rank 2016: 8)

The second place for Bill and Elisabeth Charge just as in 2016 has to due with a one time event. End october 2016 the husband of a granddaughter of Bill and Elisabeth posted a message on the Watford Memories and History page on Facebook, asking -with a link to the relevant post in this blog- if anyone remembered the decorated garden. Thousands of people did remember the site and this resulted in over 5000 hits of the post in a few days time, which meanwhile has grown to over 6000.

For the rest, the top ten contains a slightly variable set of names, with Abbé Fouré, Facteur Cheval, Bodan Litnianski and Chomo from France, José Maria Garrido, Francisco Grajera and Joseph Puiula from Spain, and Robert Garcet from Belgium. 

Erich Bödeker (Sculpture garden) from Germany (13 in 2016) is now on 11 and Karl Junker (Decorated interior), also from Germany,  left the top ten and is now at 12.

Willem van Genk (Arnhem bus station) from the Netherlands, in 2016 on 12, is now on 13. 

On 14 is Jean-Daniel Allanche (Decorated interior) from France. His decorated interior is new in this yearly review. My post about this art environment from end december 2015 was one of the first in the field that introduced his decorated interior on the internet. 

Stephen Wright  (House of dreams) from England is on 15 and Robert Vasseur Mosaic decorated house, garden) from France is on 16. Both already ranked high in former years.

On 17 is Julius Klingebiel (Decorated hospital room) from Germany. He is new in this yearly review. Reports about his decorated room in a closed hospital ward became public in the early month of 2015 and resulted in a lot of interest.

The other most viewed posts relate to Maria Rodriguez (Shell decorated garden, Spain, on 18), Raymond Isidore, also known as Picassiette (Mosaic decorated house, France, on 19) and Yves Floc'h (Kinetic art, France, on 20) 

Eastern Europe and Russia

The past two to three years I have focussed my attention on searching art environments in Eastern Europe and Russia west of the Urals. which so far delivered 54 sites.

These are the sites with all time views above 1400 (as on november 9):
Eastern Europe
   Bogdan Ziętek, Interior with sculptures, Poland   2238   
   Václav Levý, Sculpted rocks, Czech Republic, 2166
   Stanislav Sartsevich, Sculpture garden, Ukraine, 2091
   Nicolas Golovan, Decorated house, Ukraine, 2005
   Boguslawa Iwaneskiego, Sculpture garden, Poland, 1587
   Felicja Curylova, Decorated house, Poland, 1577
   Alexander Ladogina, Singular architecture, 1973
   Alexander Emelyanov, Naive architecture, sculpture, 1840
   Pjotr Zhurilenko, Sculpture garden, 1606
   Sergey Kirillov, Decorated house, 1431
   Yevgeny Malakhin (=Bukashkin), Frescoe decorated walls,  1418

Creating art environments is not a kind of competition of course, so above listings are just meant to give an idea of the focus of the visitors who visit this blog.


This weblog includes a number of pages (a general introduction, a time line, referrals to books, expositions and museums). The all time most viewed pages are the index of sites by region/countries (some 10900 views) and the index of sites by name of artist (some 5500).

A new year of research begins. Let's see what new discoveries it will bring 

October 31, 2017

Spartak Kudukhov, Дом украшен фресками /House decorated with frescoes

In above picture it looks as if the framed paintings as such were attached to the outer walls of the house, but the opposite is true: the paintings were painted directly on the walls and later the frames were added.

This house, decorated by Spartak Kudukov¹ has become a landmark in the Russian city of Borovichi, located about halfway between Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Life and works

Kudukhov was born on march 8, 1951 in a rather small village in Georgia in an area not far from  South Ossetia. Already at a youg age he felt he had to become a visual artist and although his father didn't agree at all with such a prospect, the young man persevered and earned enough money to enter the Art College in Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia, currently an independent republic recognized by Russia.

After his studies, Kudukhov got a job as a drawing teacher.

Later on he moved to Vladikavkaz, the capital of Northern Ossetia-Alania, a large, industrious city at the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains, where he worked in a factory. 

Then, in 1979, when Kudukhov was in his late twenties, together with his sister he moved north, to settle in Leningrad (from 1991 on St. Petersburg).

Here he probably manifested himself as a visual artist, because his artistic qualities gave him a job as restorer of paintings at the Hermitage Museum.

One source says this happened in 1988. Since Kudukhov in 1995 moved to Borovichi, in that case he worked seven years at the Hermitage. Other sources say he worked some sixteen years at the Hermitage, which would mean that he began this job soon after his arrival in St. Petersburg.

Whatever the case may be, as he stayed longer in St Petersburg, he wanted to be more independent, he sought rest and he wanted more time to make paintings.

So in 1995 Kudukhov left his room in St Petersburg and moved to Borovichi, a town with some 54.000 inhabitants, where he didn't know anyone and had no relatives or friends.

The house he had bought was fairly dilapidated, so he first had to restore it, a big job he took care of himself.

Kudukhov was a man of art, he liked to read and to write, to make poems and create visual art. Working with daily problems he considered a waste of time. But it so happened that he actually was confronted with the daily reality, when up to three times thieves evaded his paintings and furnishings

These events inspired him to add his paintings to the outer walls of the house in such a way that theft would no longer be possible. 

Gradually Kudukhov's house on Sergeya Lazo street was transformed into an art environment. His paintings generally show images of landscapes such as those found in the vicinity of Borovichi.

Today, Kudukhov's decorated house is generally seen as an enrichment of the city. Around 2005 local and regional newsmedia began to write about the site and its creator.

In recent years Kudukhow has become fully established in Borovichi. He worked as an artist for various firms and companies and he was a teacher at a local high school. Currently in his late sixties he is retired, but he is still active in artistic terms, like he became involved in the restoration of the old paintings in the Trinity Cathedral in Bologoye, a town some 80 kms south of Borovichi.


In the spring of 2017 Kudukhov had an exposition entitled Talent is always a joy in the museum of local history of the city of Khvoyninsky, a town some 80 kms nort-west of Borovichi. About thirty of his paintings, mainly showing landscapes, were exposed.

* Vitaly Mikhalov, Article (early 2017) Чем пахнет искусство? (What smells like art?), on website of newspaper
* Elena Ziminova, Article (august 2015) Бывший реставратор Эрмитажа поселился в Боровичах и превратил свой дом в произведение искусства (The former Hermitage restorer settled in Borovichi and transformed his house into a work of art), on website vnovgorodnews
* Article (undated), Бывший реставратор Эрмитажа превратил свой боровичский дом в произведение искусства (The former Hermitage restorer turned his Borovichi house into a work of art), on website of newspaper vnnnews,ru
* Video (2'01", YouTube, downloaded sep 2016) published by the Douglas Group (a russian
company producing videos for tv)

¹ Although Kudukhov was educated as an artist, in my opinion his decorated house deserves to be included in this inventory, because he is an artist by nature, whose way of creating an art environment fully fits in the way of working of those self taught artists presented in this weblog (passionate, without assistents, non-commercially)

Spartak Kudukhov
House decorated with frescoes
7, Ulitza Sergeya Lazo
Borovichi, Novgorod Oblast, Russia
can be seen from the street
streetview (2013)

October 24, 2017

Giancarlo Debertol, Casa La Floriana/The house of Saint Florian

click on pictures to enlarge

Canazei is a community of some 1800 inhabitants in the mountaineous area of the Dolomites in  northern Italy. Currently a busy ski resort, in earlier times it was a rural village inhabited by farmers and workers, among whom house painters who also decorated facades of local houses of which there are still good examples in the village.

Currently the most impressively decorated house is that of self taught artist Giancarlo Debertol ¹

the side of the house facing the Piazza S Floriano

Life and works

Born in 1950 in Canazei and grown up there, Debertol as a young boy already showed his artistic qualities, like at age nine he decorated an interior wall of the parental home with a landscape including Snow White and the seven dwarfs.

Decorating the house became a project of decades, which resulted in an abundantly decorated  house, both inside and outside. At the outside the exterior walls are fully covered with frescoes,
woodcarvings and wooden sculptures..

The project is dedicated to Saint Florian, the patron of the community.

On above picture the saint can be seen, standing front center, just below the overhanging roof, on the upper balcony at the side of the building facing the S Florian Square.

Saint Florian is widely venerated in central europe as the saint who protects houses from fire.

In  Devertol's wooden sculpture he is depicted while giving water from a can.

The picture above gives an impression of the facade as a whole.

It has a rich decoration with woodcarvings, but also a larger number of frescoes which are also applied to the underside of the overhanging part of the roof.

Mostly encircled with floral motives, the many frescoes that decorate the exterior walls depict religious themes, dolomitic landscapes, flowers, birds or churches located in the region.

The village of Canazei is located in a northern area of Italy that borders Austria. The traditional buildings in the community, in former times mostly used as farmhouses or workshops, have an architecture that corresponds with the architecture of farmhouses in western rural Austria.

Characteristic for these buildings are a stone base, a wooden superstructure and a steep, pointed and overhanging wooden roof that is suitable to carry and discharge large loads of snow.

As far as I understand Debertol's house formerly was a mill, which he himself converted into a house, both to inhabit and to use for other activities, such as Debertol's studio, a therapeutic practice of his daughter Gladia Debertol and a shop with souvenirs and regional products.

two guardians
picture (2016, Facebook) by Antonele Giubbini 

As can be seen in above picture, the short side of the house, farthest from the village center, has a small patio and an entrance flanked by two characteristic wooden sculptures, evidently made of logs.  

Debertol regards these as the guardians of the property.

the small garden with miniature constructions
picture (2012, Facebook) by Gladia Debertol 

Not visible from the street is a small garden on one side of the house, which contains a number of miniature buildings made by Debertol.

exposition 2016
picture (2016, Facebook) by Debertol's partner Mirtha Largher


Apart from decorating interior and exterior of his house, Debertol llkes making paintings on canvas, including painting landscapes such as those found in the area. Another favourite activity is decorating eggs or egg-shaped models.

Above picture shows a selection of his visual art as shown on a local exposition in 2016 in the context of Canazei's yearly festivity Te anter i tobié (In the middle of the barns, The name of the festivity is in Ladino, the language spoken by the people of the Roman Empire, crossed to the north via roman soldiers and currently still used in Canazei in daily routine).

* articles by Giada Carraro on websites Costruttori di Babele and SPACES
* Facebook page edited by Gladia Debertol Casa decorata "La Floriana" nel centro storico di Canazei (the pictures credited in this post as derived from Facebook are on this page)

¹ The internet mainly has short (touristic) referrals to this art environment. Only Giada Carraro published a more detailed description of the creation (see documentation) and I would like to acknowledge that some factual information in this post is based upon Giada's work.

Giancarlo Debertol
"La Floriana"
Canazei, Trentino, Italy
see exact location on
can be seen from the street