The Women of the World by Titouan Lamazou

timahWe want to draw your attention to a most remarkable exposition at the Nacivet Gallery in Legian – across the Street from Made’s Warung – where there is the opportunity, until March 16, to see a part of the important portrait collection of the Women of the World by Titouan Lamazou.

Titouan Lamazou is a French painter who has already left behind a body of work of monumental proportions. Among future generations he may turn out to be seen as the painter who defined the start of the 21st century. Titouan Lamazou is not a member of any art movement and it is impossible to categorize a person, who has reinvented himself several times and may very well do so again. He really is in a category all by himself but if anyone would insist that we do put him in a box, we might get away by calling him an inveterate and incurable globetrotter.

When he was still a teenager Titouan started a long voyage that would cross all the great oceans and lead him to many distant corners on all five continents. Barely eighteen he left the Academy of Fine Arts in the South of France because he found the formal methods of instruction too constricting. Hitching rides on sailboats he made his way to the Caribbean and Titouan’s later sailing career was the outcome of a fateful meeting with the famous French yachtsman Eric Tabarly. Tabarly was a Commander in the French Navy and Titouan was offered the incredible opportunity to do his military service on board of the yacht Pen Duick VI.

So as a sailor Titouan learned the ropes from Tabarly. During those early years his artistic work was mainly in the nautical sphere and he was even appointed as the Official Painter and Writer of the Navy. In the later years later he entered the international race circuit and that eventually culminated in a victory when in 1990 he won the Vendée Globe, the first non-stop solo sailing race around the world. Being a world champion sailor was what made him famous in France but throughout these years, Titouan always continued to refine his artistic practice. He never stopped drawing and painting and started publishing his collections. In 1985 he also published a novel, Trésor de l’Atlas.

In the course of the 90s Titouan decided to devote himself exclusively to painting and drawing and started publishing several volumes of travel diaries, the ‘Carnets de Voyage’. At the turn of the century he decided to focus on the project that would keep him on the road for the better part of the following decade. Over the first three years Women of the World took him to 40 different countries. In 2003 Titouan traveled several months through the Indonesian archipelago and he made portraits of seventeen Indonesian women from the widest possible range of backgrounds; well-known TV personality Irma Hutabarat in Jakarta is part of the collection; so is Dayu, princess in one of the royal courts on Bali. There is also Tima, a young Baju fisherwoman who takes care of her elderly parents on a tiny islet near Komodo. (She is the lady in the picture here above.)

During that same year, in recognition of his personal contribution to the advancement of women’s empowerment and gender equality, Titouan was made into an ‘UNESCO Artist for Peace’ and since that day he is one of the few world citizens allowed to roam the world on an international diplomatic passport. In 2007 the entire 230 portrait collection Women of the World was exhibited in Paris in the Musee de l ’Homme, the Museum of Man. The exhibition attracted almost a quarter of a million visitors. Such numbers are extremely unusual for painters while they are still alive…

What you can see at the Nacivet Gallery is a selection of portraits. The women are from many different countries and from totally different walks of life, from princesses to politicians to prostitutes. However, that single word portrait really does not properly describe the content. When Titouan decides on an individual woman as a subject he starts a process that may take days. He makes what he calls a tableau, a ‘picture-board’; this is in fact a multi-format approach that gives the portrait an extra dimension. Titouan is not just a painter; he is also a writer and a photographer; he observes and interviews and there are countless sketches before they crystallize into a painted portrait.

Go and see the women of the world. You will not be disappointed…they are all exceptional and all have interesting stories to tell!

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