Ernest Pignon-Ernest is the guest of Cultural Affairs

Ernest Pignon-Ernest is the guest of Cultural Affairs

He has been bringing beauty and poetry to the streets for over fifty years. While exhibiting 300 works for 6 months at the Cultural Fund Hélène and Edouard Leclerc in Landernauthe visual artist Ernest Pignon Ernest tells us about his installations, his drawings, his photographs, which reveal the different stages of his creations.


A child from Nice, Ernest Pignon-Ernest was deeply marked at the age of twelve by a reproduction of Picasso’s famous “Guernica”. How, as a young painter, to go after such a subversive power? Ernest Pignon-Ernest responds by choosing the street. In 1966, against the establishment of the atomic strike force on the Albion plateau, the artist pocketed the shadow of a man struck by lightning in Hiroshima on the walls, roads and rocks of the surroundings, in situ . If he then swapped stencil for collage, this first intervention bears the seeds of all that constitutes his work until today: the ephemeral appropriation and poeticization of public space, of which he is one of the pioneers. with Daniel Buren, but also the setting in dialogue of the History and the interrogation of our collective memory.

Reinscribe human history in places

“Ecce homo”, such is the formula, which can be translated as “here is the Man”, which was chosen to title his retrospective in Avignon in 2020 and could sum up the essence of all his work. Humanist artist, Ernest Pignon-Ernest awakens the memory of poets, whether Pier Paolo Pasolini, Robert Desnos or Mahmoud Darwich, but also heroes of freedom and victims of tragic events, to question the collective memory of peoples and excesses of society.

As early as 1971, the visual artist made an impression with The Recumbents, a series of drawings glued to various places in Paris, which offered a cross-section of the Paris Commune, the massacre of October 17, 1961 and the affair of the Charonne metro station. Way to signify that history repeats itself and that the streets are direct witnesses. Since then, he has pasted his smoky drawings on newsprint both in Nice to protest against the city’s twinning with Cape Town in full Apartheid, in South Africa to make AIDS visible, in Algiers to resuscitate the figure of Maurice Audin and thereby designate the violence of the colonial war, or even in Naples to work on the representations of death that this city secreted.

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