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The works of three brothers at heart – painter/writer François Augiéras, the poet Paul Placet and artist/photographer Philippe Pons – are being shown together, as an inextricable “whole”, at the Pôle international de la Préhistoire, until January 5th. An invitation to share heartfelt sensations and emotions before the scenic beauty of the Vézère Valley, all the way up to Sarlat, as the seasons go by. These poem-images express “ecstatic and shamanistic sentiments and visions in the places we travelled through”, whispered Philippe Pons into the ears of the friendly crowd following him round the exhibition with Paul Placet, amidst all the creations they had put together. There was a feeling of appeasement. Time stood still as we stood bathing in the perpetual sunshine of the angels’ corridor, designed by architect Raphaël Voinchet.


It was a life of torment in search of the Absolute, breaking all the rules, that consumed François Augiéras. He died in Périgueux hospital on February 13, 1971 at the age of 46. Since his premature death, his schoolmaster friend Paul Placet has been honouring his memory, unceasingly, organising exhibitions of his painted works and bringing his manuscripts into the public eye. Philippe Pons has joined him, with firm determination. With the aid of an IGN map, Paul showed him the meandering route François took on his initiatory trip in 1953 - on a poplar wood raft, drifting down the river from Montignac to Limeuil. Philippe resolved to undertake the same journey, hanging on trees fragments of poems written by Paul, echoing the feeling of awe that he and François had shared in times past in those very same places. At the exhibition, a video performance shows the marking out of the territory, as he reminisces.


To conceive his poem-images, Philippe Pons explored the subject of gemellarity, since François and Paul are his twin brothers. It was his own way of stepping through the “looking glass”, the “mirror”: scenery from prehistoric times reflected in the river, the citadels of La Madeleine and La Roque-Saint-Christophe or the Château de Commarque and, on occasion, a double-image photograph, making use of this other mirror-effect to create anatomical, symmetrical, anthropomorphic and ghostly figures. To quote Kafka: “Writing is an exercise in the art of summoning the spirits. It is something else that is writing with my hand.” It was the three men’s turn to be swept up in the whirlpool of sensory vibrations which connect us with the invisible forces. Words lack lustre for describing this; you simply have to go and see the exhibition for yourself, experiencing firsthand all the magic that shines out.


Working in harmony to bring to life this universe entitled « Vézère, toison, d’or », Philippe Pons and Paul Placet have, somewhat illicitly, respected and granted François Augiéras’ last wishes.
“I believe that my immortal soul will live on. As I am a non-Christian, I wish my body to be burnt on an island on the River Vézère and my ashes to be thrown into the river.”
Extract of François Augiéras’ will, made in Montignac on May 20, 1970.*
This homage, enriched by cultural landscapes (“stardust” dispersed by Philippe and Paul), is being paid at the Pôle International de la Préhistoire - a ship on stilts floating on the River Beune , that precisely “throws itself” into the Vézère River at Les Eyzies. This “cyberpast ship”* was indeed the appropriate choice, with its above-mentioned angels’ corridor and its phantoms from prehistoric times. It has received the « Grand Prix de l’Académie internationale d’Architecture », And, hey presto, this exhibition is ready to take flight! Panama, Central America, followed by arts centres and Alliances françaises in the New World… thanks to Fabrice Placet, Paul’s son, who has made his life over there. We leave to him the final words:
“When we travel, the greatest gift we have to give is our roots.”


Sophie Cattoire

Translated into English by Valérie Saraben


Our sincere thanks to Jacques Saraben for the archive documents, the photographs and his very own pastel portraits of François Augiéras, shown on the second page of illustrations.


*François Augiéras was buried in Domme Cemetery, on the cliff high above the River Dordogne

VÉZÈRE, TOISON D’OR Philippe PONS & Paul PLACET Du 14 septembre 2013 au 5 janvier 2014
« Vézère, Toison d’Or » (“Vézère, Golden Fleece”)
at the Pôle international de la Préhistoire,
until January 5, 2014
The exhibition will be travelling to Cuba for “Francophone Week” in March, 2014.

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