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Do you have to be dead to make a name for yourself? Do you have to be a rusty old skeleton before people start taking an interest in you?
Memories tend to be fleeting. But we keep on digging down valiantly to add more pieces to the jigsaw and understand who we are. That’s what we call “archaeology”: a term which combines seriousness and adventure, fact-finding demands and carefree yomping.
Gaëlle Chancerelle is an archaeologist. She can conscientiously follow a mechanical digger step by step for months on end on the site of a future slip road, trying to spot, catalogue and interpret a maximum number of remains before surfacing begins.
She is equally able to ask herself whether what thrills her here and now, alive and creative right by her side, does not deserve an on-the-spot investigation - a sort of living post-mortem before the supreme cyclone, oblivion and posterity, many years hence, when people will rediscover the artist who breathed his last a long, long time ago.


So, one morning on a beach in Guadeloupe Gaëlle Chancerel delved headlong into the hotchpotch of Juan Frutos’s studio! The Mexican artist had got tangled up in what was the result of twelve years’ frantic hoarding of those bits and bats which are essential to his art. He and Gaëlle Chancerel had become friends, due to the fortunate fact that they were neighbours and shared the same feelings, and he willingly went along with the idea.
The archaeologist delimited an area of 2 square meters, 1m20 high. This stratigraphical sampling produced 6,000 remains which were divided up into three periods: Old Frutos, Mexican Frutos and Advanced Frutos. On the odd occasion, to have a bit of a breather (!), she watched the Caribbean gently lapping the shore.


She also listened intently to the artist’s life story and from this stream of words there emerged a route going from Mexico to the West Indies, via France, in the 70s.

She has produced a book portraying the artist and the world he lives in – as she sees him, here and now.

The book is absolutely exquisite - beautiful print, amazing colours - and the polished, limpid style offers a dazzling kaleidoscope. We meet the artist, we discover his work and we revel in the account of the delicate, uproarious and already all-important excavation work undertaken. Juan Frutos’s studio, the scene of twelve years’ intensive living, was swept away by the hurricane in 2005, just after the excavation ended. There is nothing left of it.

Normally it is after something like that that exploration begins, when it is too late and masses of information have already vanished into thin air - in particular, facts about life … you know… that complicated thing that the skeletons too have experienced and that they have so much trouble telling us about.

Sophie Cattoire

L'exposition "Los cuatro caminos" de Juan Frutos se poursuit jusqu'au 25 avril 2008 au Centre culturel de la Vistation de Périgueux.

Juan Frutos vit et travaille dorénavant en France, près de Cahors, où vous pouvez le contacter : JUAN FRUTOS, rue des mariniers, 46140 DOUELLE

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