Artist transforms historic Fort Dugommier

With its red rooftops, medieval castle and rocky beaches, the seaside village of Collioure has inspired artists for generations. But for the artist MA2F (Marc-André Figueres) the primary source of creative motivation is the phallic tower rising over the bay.

It was this 15th century tower, along with the shape of the Collioure Bay itself, that inspired “La Trilogie Érotique du Clocher de Collioure”  (The Erotic Trilogy of the Bell Tower of Collioure).

The trilogy includes a book, “Theórie Érotique du Clocher de Collioure,” (Erotic Theory of the Bell Tower of Collioure) and two exhibitions, “Entonnoirs de L’Érotisme au Sacré” (Funnels of Eroticism to the Sacred) and “Point 2 Vue Érotique Autor du Clocher de Collioure” (2 Erotic Viewpoints of the Bell Tower of Collioure).

Twelve empty gold frames, each attached to a viewing station made up of a pole and steps, are strategically placed around Collioure for “Point 2 Vue Érotique Autor.” Each frame captures a different angle of the bell tower and explores MA2F’s theory of eroticism and spirituality.

Frame 12 is positioned near Fort Dugommier, a crumbling 19th century fort that offers a breathtaking view of Collioure Bay and the Mediterranean Sea. It was this view, showing the rigid masculinity of the bell tower juxtaposed against the feminine shape of the Collioure Bay, that inspired MA2F’s theory of the erotic bell tower.

“I’m inspired by the light and the changing of the colors,” said MA2F as he stood at the top of Fort Dugommier and pointed to the view of the Collioure Bay and vineyards behind him. “Also, you can see a lot of bright colors here from the view, with the blues and greens from the Mediterranean Sea.”

“He loves to find connections and meanings between things,” said Florence Delseny-Sobra, who has known and worked with MA2F for five years. “He likes to see that everything has a meaning, that everything around him was meant to be.”

Artist MA2F

Artist MA2F stands on the grounds of Fort Dugommier with a view of the Collioure bay in the background.

Born in Perpignan in 1959, MA2F has continually embraced his connection to the Catalan towns close to him even as he’s developed a national reputation. His paintings and sculptures have been displayed in galleries in Paris and abroad, and he is known for the “sun paint” he invented in 1990, a paint that uses a special pigment that reacts to solar energy and changes color with the varying types of ultraviolet rays.

“He really lives like an artist,” said Delseny-Sobra. “When you start talking about his exhibitions and what he is doing in Collioure with ‘Point 2 Vue Érotique Autor’ and all the frames that he did, he is really into it. You can really feel his creativity.”

MA2F’s passion for Collioure’s scenic beauty was a core inspiration for purchasing Fort Dugommier more than 15 years ago. The artist is working to restore the dilapidated stone fort, which was built in the 1840s, and turn it into an art center, as well as a research center for renewable energy.

“Here will be a prototype for all sustainable energies systems,” said MA2F. “We believe we are creating new systems to use energy now, and actually when we go through all the renovation works we can see that the water from the rain is collected, and we will use the geothermal energy to keep the fort at an average temperature.”

The construction work is done by groups of about a dozen 16- to 22-year old volunteers — half male and half female — who work in two-week stints each summer under the direction of three professionals.

“The work here makes sense for this age range because, indeed, this kind of work is simple enough for all ages,” said MA2F. “Seventy percent are from France, and the rest are from all over the world.”

The workers, who start at 7 a.m. and finish by 1 p.m. every day, are rebuilding the fort without aid from machinery. The volunteers use wheelbarrows, picks and shovels — as well as their own brute strength — to excavate buried structures and reconstruct stone walls.

The restored fort will include gallery space and a research center where artists can work and display their art. And for MA2F, there will be an apartment and studio that will feature a ideal view of the erotic bell tower and the bay that first inspired him.