I had the enormous pleasure to be invited to photograph our Luxe Provence Fete Collection at the magical Château Charleval – Provence Art Gallery created by philanthropist, entrepreneur, sculptor and art collector, Daniel Rocher (picture below, left). The venue is pure magic! The château with its four turrets and slate tiles was constructed in 1854 by Monsieur Bonefoi on the ancient hunting grounds of César de Cadet, whose bust reigns supreme above the quaint fountain just up the street. The château’s Renaissance style is an extremely rare sight here in Provence. Constructed as an elaborate gift for the original owner’s bride-to-be, this architectural delight is elegantly tucked away in this sleepy town, like a hidden gem, just off the center square of its namesake village in the Luberon. It is truly a must-visit venue that elegantly fuses a preserved, historic marvel with a modern art gallery, featuring a tightly curated collection of Provence’s finest local artists: including many French avant-garde sculptors and painters from the region.
Château Charleval originally opened in 2019 after two years of renovations featuring: 27 artists, 150 oeuvres and 60 sculptures set in a seven hectare park and is in constant evolution. The artists’ works are located both inside the numerous gallery rooms, with special dedicated spaces, and its adjacent gallery space next door.
Daniel is a sculptor, seasoned entrepreneur and philanthropist and also the son of cosmetic pioneer, Yves Rocher. He fell in love and purchased the property in 2019, with the mission of preserving this rare, historical monument and promoting the work of local artists. Rocher has successfully created both an intimate and impressive gallery and vast sculpture garden compromised of cutting edge, contemporary artists. Upon my latest visit, three new, massive contemporary sculptures were just being lifted and erected in the ever-expanding gardens by avant-garde artist, Francis Guerrier (I’ll keep the surprise for you to discover on-site).
Daniel’s passion for historic preservation, nature and art is contagious as he details his curation of handpicked artists with his personal tours. His own impressive sculpture work is throughout the gallery and gardens, including his iconic, Jacob’s Ladder piece. (This sculpture is animated in our opening image by multi-talented actress, performer and Luxe Provence model, Louise Pascal and is a focal point in the sculpture gardens.) There is clearly a theme throughout the collection of the inter-relation between art and nature.
There are so many exciting artists to discover, from: local Petruis painter Gerard Rocherieux (circular paintings in opening images), Javier Balmaseda’s intricate crab installation, to marine ecologist and painter, Yves Henocque (above center). Ariel Moscovici creates “multi-facetted structures or constructions – as it were, the primordial egg or seed” and Aurelien Raynaud’s impressive and intricate Octopus sculpture made entirely of wire is a tribute to nature and its infinite richness.
My personal favorite artist who I’d like to share more about is Aurelia Rocher. She is currently exhibiting her sculpture work at the gallery with a select few artists, such as Saint Remy’s Jean Bosc, which will be re-opening in a few short months. Art and creative talent clearly run in the blood of the Rocher family. Aurelia’s sister, Noemie’s large, triptyque ink abstract paintings are hauntingly ethereal and featured throughout the chateau and gallery as well. It’s so refreshing to be around Aurelia and her incredible energy and listen as their family discuss the latest oeuvres in the collection, inspiration, and their artistic discoveries in daily conversation. They are all busy creating and contributing to this incredible cultural lieu here in Provence we are so lucky to have. Aurelia’s exhibit titled ‘Rever l’Espace’ (picture above right) stands quietly apart from the rest of the pieces exhibited and forces you to take pause. Her sculptures are an elaborate and incredibly intricate array of mico-organisms inspired by nature, bio-diversity and anemochore.
Aurelia’s work feels alive and particularly apt for the planetary crisis we are living. Her work is vibrant, alive and dynamic, blurring the boundaries between: art and nature, evolution and confinement, restrictions and freedom. Aurelia explores themes of transformation and tells the story of perhaps our not-so-distant future where one must radically adapt our physical form in order to simply survive. She is a local Aixoise artist and her intriguing sculpture work is available to purchase on-site, or by commission.
We hope you have enjoyed our little highlight reel and peak inside of this spectacular venue. There are so many more incredible artists to discover, that you’ll have to visit for yourself. And in the meantime, here are a few images of our recent Holiday Campaign shoot photographed by me featuring Louise Pascal at this incredible venue in Provence.
Be sure to organise your visit for a closer look at Château Charleval’s art gallery and sculpture gardens, which are open for private tours Tuesday – Saturday 14h – 19h by reservation only at: 06 67 89 99 01 . Please be sure to call ahead. There’s so much to discover that you can easily pass 2-3 hours between the gallery space, château rooms and incredible gardens. The visit comes complete with stunning views of the Luberon countryside and changing seasonal color. Stay tuned for upcoming events next summer, or contact them for private event bookings.