Arcabas is the pseudonym of Jean-Marie Pirot.
He is considered by critics “one of the masters of contemporary sacred art.”
Born in 1926 in Trémery in Lorraine (France) from a German mother and a
French father, he spent his childhood in Metz.
During World War II he was drafted into the German Army, but deserted and
fled to Paris where he studied Fine Arts.
From 1950, after graduation, he taught at Decorative Arts in Grenoble and
from 1960 until 1969 he was granted tenure as Chair of painting.
He participated in numerous exhibits both in France (Paris, Lyon, Grenoble,
Marseille, Strasbourg), and abroad (Berlin, Frankfurt, Brussels, Bruges, Oostende,
Luxembourg, Bergamo, Ottawa, Panama...).
His works are featured in Europe, Canada, Japan, United States, Mexico, Ecuador
and in numerous public collections - Museum of Grenoble, the Paris National
Library, Waterloo International Art Gallery, University of Ottawa
(Canada), Cuernavaca (Mexico) - as well as private collections.
Arcabas has accomplished many works of art for the French Government and
local communities: sculptures, engravings, tapestries, mosaics, stained glass. His
preferred technique is however painting.
His main source of inspiration is the Bible and his field of artistic expression
is sacred art.
The most important work by Arcabas is the monumental Ensemble d’art sacre
contemporain; decorations for the Church of Saint-Hugues de Chartreuse,
which he started in 1953 and completed in 1986.
Since 1984, the church has
become Departmental Museum of Sacred Art and encompasses a significant
portion of the artist’s works.
Between 1961 and 1972 Arcabas created stage sets and costumes for theater
performances such as “Dance of death” by J. A. Strindberg, “Diary of a Country
Priest” by G. Bernanos, “The Righteous” by A. Camus with Comédie des Alpes,
and “A Soldier’s Story” by C.-F. Ramuz with music by I. F. Stravinsky at the Opera
du Centre National des Arts in Canada.
From 1969 to 1972, he was an “Invited Artist” by the National Council of the
Arts of Canada and Professor at the University of Ottawa, where he created
“L’atelier collectif expérimental.”On his return to France, he founded and directed
the workshop of plastic arts “Eloge de la Main” at the University of Social Sciences
Arcabas’ work stands out for the inclusion of secular figures and themes within
religious cycles and for his exuberant use of color, which seems to almost assault
the eye. Peculiar is also the presence of the color gold, linked to the tradition
of European sacred art.
In Italy, he is featured at the Church of the Resurrection in Torre de’ Roveri
(Bg), with the pictorial cycle “The Pilgrims of Emmaus” composed in the
years 1993-1994 (attended by over 72,000 people in research laboratories) and
at the Chapel of Reconciliation in Costa Serina (Bg), La Pèta community.
In 1999 he presented a solo exhibit named “Colors of Mystery” in the Church
of Sant’Agata nel Carmine in Bergamo.
Since 1986, he lives and works in Saint-Pierre-de-Chartreuse (Isère).