Jean Gillon - Tapestries
JEAN GILLON (1919-2007)

Jean Gillon was born in Romania in 1919. His extensive and diversified path comprises paintings, etchings, set decorations, sculptures, tapestries and furniture designs. He designed many homes, stores and luxury hotels and exercised expressive ecological action to protect the Embu das Artes village, near São Paulo, where he built his “retreat home” and studio. His choice for an artistic path clashed with his family’s agricultural tradition, the reason why he developed, from an early age, paid set decoration jobs. He accomplished many stage sets and wardrobes for theatrical plays and dance shows in Israel, France and Brazil. He worked with renowned personalities connected to scenic arts, such as Cacilda Becker, and was recognized in this field through the 1962 “Cenógrafo Revelação” Set Decorator Revelation Award by the Brazilian Association of Theater Critics in Rio de Janeiro.

He started to travel frequently in the 1940s, alternating his residence among Iasi, Paris, Israel and Vienna. In Paris, he would spend long stretches in a rented apartment in Saint Germain de Près. He learned tapestry there, while working as cartoonist for Le Monde newspaper or creating set decorations for the Ballet of Paris. He visited Egypt. In 1949, he studied Architecture in Vienna at Kunstgewerbschule (former School of Industrial Arts, today University of Applied Arts). In the following year, he was a visiting lecturer in London, at the Arts & Crafts School.

In 1956 he married Edith, with whom he had two daughters, Gabriela and Laura. The same year they got married, charmed by the popularity of Brazilian architecture in the international scene, the couple moved to Brazil, making their home in São Paulo. Gillon started to work as an architect and, due to his interior design projects, he started to design and produce furniture in 1958, also selling them in his Adorno stores. In 1961, he founded the furniture manufacture Cidam (later renamed WoodArt) and collaborated with other companies such as Italma, Probel and Village, which produced some of his furniture designs. From 1964 on, he favored furniture production for the international market; he took part in many fairs and exhibitions and exported his products to 22 different countries.

In one of his visits to Bahia state due to numerous architecture and interior design projects he was developing there, he met Genaro de Carvalho and started to commission his tapestries. As Genaro was not able to fulfill Gillon’s demand, he encouraged him to do his own tapestries. Thus, in 1964, in Germany, he had his first tapestry exhibitions. In Brazil, however, his works only started to be exhibited in 1969.

Gillon took part in more than eight exhibitions and art events; sixty among them were tapestry shows. In 1963, he was a highlight at the VII Biennial of São Paulo with the set he created for the play The Old Lady’s Visit at Cacilda Becker Theater in São Paulo.
His works were part of distinguished solo and collective shows in Paris, Tel Aviv, Vienna, Cologne, Frankfurt, Copenhagen, Lausanne, Geneva, New York, Nancy, Chalon, Saarbrücken, Angoulême, Charleroi, Lisbon, Tampa, and Toronto. In Brazil, the artist had active participation in tapestry events promoted by São Paulo museums and other institutions, such as the Tapestry Biennial at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) in 1974 and the Brazilian Tapestry Triennial at Modern Art Museum of São Paulo (MAM-SP) in 1976 and 1979.

Among awards and recognitions Gillon received, a highlight is his Jangada chair from 1968, which gained international success by originality and innovation regarding the use of nylon nets; it also received the MOVESP award in 1991. He continued to create numerous tapestries until 2003, with great success in commercial galleries and always receiving awards in both national and international specialized circuits, such as in 1981, when he received in Nancy, in France, the first prize for tapestry at the International Exhibition of Modern Art.
Gillon passed away in 2007, in São Paulo.
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