firstsite celebrates the work of the experimental artist, poet and publisher Henri Chopin, who lived in Essex from 1968 to 1985. The exhibition Henri Chopin dans l’Essex takes its title from a monograph on the artist’s work published in 1972, and features works on paper, publications, prints and other ephemera produced during the period that Chopin lived in Essex.
Chopin was a major pioneer of sound and visual poetry in Britain and France. During the 1950s, he began to experiment with sound and the possibilities of the human voice. He recorded over 100 audio poems during his lifetime and actively sought to promote the medium of poetry through the publication of the magazine OU (1964–74). Chopin moved from France to Essex in 1968, settling in Ingatestone from October of that year to 1981, and then in Leigh-on-Sea from 1981 to 1985 when he returned to France. From 1969 to 1976 he staged a small, international festival at his home, for which artists and writers including William Burroughs and Brion Gysin travelled to Ingatestone to take part. From 2001 he lived with his daughter and family in Dereham, Norfolk, where he continued to write and perform until his death in 2008.
Henri Chopin (b.1922, Paris; d. 2008, Dereham, Norfolk) has held solo exhibitions at venues including Fundação de Serralves, Porto; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerpen (MuKHA), Antwerp (2011); Cubitt Gallery, London (2008); Fondazione Morra, Naples (2005); Norwich Gallery (1998); Neues Museum Weserburg, Bremen (1993); Whitechapel Art Gallery, London (1974) and Ceolfrith Arts Centre, Sunderland (1972). His work has been presented in significant international survey exhibitions, including Ecstatic Alphabet/Heaps of Language, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2012) and Poor. Old. Tired. Horse.,Institute of Contemporary Arts, London (2009).
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