First published: Fall 1999
The great CHOMO is dead. One of the outstanding figures of French contemporary outsider art, Roger Chomeaux died at the age of 92 at his Realm of Preludian Art, near Fontainbleau, on June 19th. Born on January 28, 1907 at Berlaimont in northern France, he had been living and working on his piece of land, mostly in total solitude, for the last fifty years.
He became a recluse after his first exhibition was ignored by the critics and the public, turning his back on society to create his own environment of thousands of paintings, sculptures and assemblages. He built a series of extraordinary structures made from reclaimed materials: the 'Church of the Poor', the 'Sanctuary of Burnt Wood' and 'the Refuge'. Surrounded by a dense wood where poems and statements, in his personalised calligraphy in phonetic French, hung from the trees, CHOMO's self-made world attracted thousands of visitors over the years who came to wonder at his powerful creative output.