Art Paris has established itself as a major art fair for modern and contemporary art. The 2021 edition brings together 140 galleries from over twenty countries, displaying art spanning post-war to the contemporary period. Whilst Art Paris is a place for discovery, its distinctive feature is a special emphasis on the European scene combined with the exploration of new horizons of international creative hubs in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. This year, is also the first art fair to take up residence in the Grand Palais Éphémère on the Champ-de-Mars. Here’s a guided tour through the fair.
Espace Meyer Zafra
Ennio Chiggio defined the operational scope in an increasingly precise manner by creating “objects” obtained by folding and cutting black cardboard, as a perceptual material structure capable of going beyond the pictorial randomness of an informal painting.
Tonia Nneji seizes, in her paintings, the European format reserved, from the 17th century, to the portraits the rich and powerful. The tight framing of her faceless, blue-black figures and the contrast with the falsely neutral background, give them a relief and a strong dynamic that propels them in front of the viewer. The surging effect and the falsely neutral background participate in the social involvement of the models.
Galería Albarrán Bourdais
In the Pantone series, Mathieu Mercier confronts on the same plane a plant specimen and the slats of a colour chart displaying gradations of shades that correspond to it. This series is produced using a particularly powerful scanner, different elements, dust, earth, flower, plasticine, etc. were laid flat on the glass of the reproduction device. The tool has trapped its own background, which forms both the context of the work and the revealer of its production process. Formats, perspectives, light: the traditional reflexes of pictorial analysis are not far off, all the more so as the reproduced objects, knowingly chosen for their links with major motifs in the history of art, allude to genres of still life and vanity, figuration and abstraction.
Associated with the French Nouveau Réalisme and American Pop art movements, Alain Jacquet was celebrated for his playful investigations into the nature of images, from mass media photographs and advertisements to NASA’s pictures of Earth and canonical Old Master and modern paintings. “It’s a visual, formal thing,” he once explained. “I’m fascinated by the way a picture can break down into the tiniest abstract elements close up, then reappear as a pictorial image.” The abstract elements to which he refers are Ben Day dots, famously co-opted by his contemporary, Roy Lichtenstein. These appeared in many of Jacquet’s paintings and photo-screened compositions, enlarged into abstract patterns or used as the building blocks of his images. Among his best-known works, which brought him early notice, is Déjeuner sur l’herbe (1964), his tongue-in-cheek restaging of Manet’s masterpiece, rendered entirely in Ben Day dots.
Hassan Hajjaj’s work is a form of celebration of the popular visual culture of the souk, a social space, symbol of interaction and exchange. The artist borrows from Moroccan culture, uses pictorial stereotypes such as odalisques or brand images with their cult logos. It is with audacity that he assembles and opposes oriental and western elements, to create a rich and universal universe. The attention Hassan Hajjaj takes in framing his photos is reminiscent of the degree of finishing touches in the repetition of the motifs of Islamic decorative art. His work evolves between several artistic universes: photography, fashion, music, cinema and design.
This is like a frozen motion, in time, the stones seem to fall in an unknown medium, they seem to sink down but they don’t. They behave differently than they should under the known and learned circumstances, they line in a different dimension, some stones even seem to float or stand on water.
The work also reminds us of the stones which are used to be put an gravestones, to commemorate the deceased. The little bubbles and the light green -grey colour of the resin is on purpose, this way the stones look line in natural water, like in an aquarium.
This member of Kapsiki circle grew up in Foumban called “the city of art” by many. Since his childhood, the masks and statues of artisans and of the palace museum has been his daily life. He started creating very early, and today he is one of the most recognised Cameroonian artists on the national and international scene. The artworks of Salifou Lindou are a mix of materials “I have the art of manipulating things, I like to tinker”. Tireless researcher, Salifou shapes, structures and destructures metal sheets, leather, steel, paper, etc. He is constantly experimenting new elements to make the most of them. At first sight, one might think that the work of this artist runs counter to current contemporary art trends. At a time when many artists are coming back to figuration or hyperrealism, this artist seeks the perfect mastery of the abstraction of his subjects. “Like a kid” as he says, Salifou expresses the need to manipulate forms, to explore materials and finally to invent scenes.
This ability to shape the lines, positioning eyes, mouth, nose and any other part of the body of his characters at the right place without calculation, highlights his perfect mastery of drawing and the expression of the freedom that emanates from him. In this game, which is ultimately artistic creation, everything is allowed to Salifou: the artist, playing with a heap of lines, leads them to express themselves only for themselves to represent characters who are indifferent to reality. During this manipulation, this do-it-yourself, the artist ends up touching the secret and the mystery of life. Life, our life, is a game, but a vicious game. His works, in a mixture of media (drawing, painting, collages, etc.) tell us its complexity. Salifou makes play together abstract forms and complex figures. This complexity, it is possible to see it through brown lines that intertwine to form atypical characters on which he sticks elements, which become stigmata.
Andrea Torres Balaguer’s work is influenced by dreams and surrealism, exploring the relationship between femininity and nature through the symbolism and dream transcription technique. Inspired by references to psychoanalysis theory and magic realism, her pictures experiment with the conscious-subconscious. Thinking about the scene-action concept, she creates pictures that suggest stories and invites the spectator to interpret them, searching to experiment with the boundaries between reality and fiction.
The Contacts series contains a variety of images chosen amongst the many pictures of plants, animals and portraits taken by the artist during the last fifteen years presenting examples of his particular approach: shedding his subject of his outward aspects to reveal its fragility. These prints are specifically contact prints: they are produced without an enlarger by placing directly the negative film of the photographs on the paper.
Danysz gallery presents a body of works around the theme Portraiture and Figuration. Questioning identity, the artists featured in this selection point to rich trajectories, revealing stories that go beyond personal narratives.
Info is sourced from the press releases of the galleries.