Paris Gallery Weekend promotes a unique way to experience art, carefully drawing routes from one gallery to the other, embedded in the city’s different areas. It invites collectors and amateurs alike to deep dive into each one of the 72 exhibitions on show and to meet with art key players such as gallery owners, artists and curators.
The selection embodies the dynamism and the diversity of Paris galleries of modern and contemporary art.
Galerie Nathalie Obadia
Having employed primary processes of photography in her earlier work, and later used new technology to create pictorial, supernatural images, photographer Valérie Belin walks a fine line between illusion and reality in her abstract and representational work.
Youssef Nabil shoots intricately arranged black-and-white photographs, primarily portraits, which he then meticulously hand-colours in a rich and varied palette, employing a technique based on the colour-tinting of old Egyptian portrait studios. “The technique I got from Egypt, but the colours I got from personal experience,” he has said. Nabil began his career by staging and photographing tableaux in which his friends acted out scenes that recall film stills from Egypt’s cinematic golden age, and the images he produces today continue to evoke nostalgia for the cinematic past.
The paintings, installations, performances and films that comprise Benoît Maire’s artistic practice are deeply rooted in philosophy and theory. Concerned with how, why, and in what states art can exist, Maire investigates the relationship between concepts and images or objects.
Drawing on Hollywood’s aesthetic of artificiality and the power of a scrupulously directed film scene, American photographer Philip-Lorca diCorcia is a pioneer in staged photography, crafting narratives of everyday life. “I thought of the people as puppets who were unstrung, mercilessly disempowered—not preyed upon, but living on the edge and not by choice,” he says of his earliest L.A. subjects. “So it was interesting to set up scenarios that often didn’t portray the real circumstances.” Using photographic media from digital to Polaroid, diCorcia’s collections range from the meticulous staging and disconcerting affectlessness of high-end fashion photography to the impromptu intimacy of street portraits, frequently capturing garishness and frailty in a single shot.
Galerie Chantal Crousel
Jean-Luc Moulène manipulates the aesthetic of commercial photography to stark effect, often creating deeply political images that are anything but glamorous. Moulène photographs his subjects against monochromatic backgrounds with a disarming lack of affectation or sentiment. His method also frequently involves recycling images from older collections of photographs and using them in newer works.
Whether working in photography, sculpture, painting or video, Gabriel Orozco fashions the unexpected out of familiar materials. Orozco’s photographic works include both street photography of surprisingly moving moments as well as staged creations; and the artist’s installations can be reminders of the subtle beauty of typically-ignored objects.
Known for using utilitarian household items, from space heaters to extension cords and placing them out of context, Haegue Yang’s works reflect the transitory nature of the artist’s own experience of living and working in multiple locations. Her works in video explore displacement and alienation in both geographical and personal terms through a combination of fiction and documentary. Yang’s visual, sound, and olfactory installations reveal the intersections of public and private.
Gil Heitor Cortesão’s paintings look to the design aesthetic of the 1960s and ’70s, depicting spaces characterised by clean, hard lines and generally devoid of human presence. Working off images from ’60s interior design magazines, Cortesão paints layers of paint onto Plexiglas and presents the reverse side of the work when he exhibits them, creating a muted, dream-like quality that suggests the decline of the utopian promises of the Modernist era.
Chiharu Shiota is known for her performative installations in which she weaves human-size webs from black thread, turning entire galleries into labyrinthine environments and often enclosing personal objects or even herself. Inspired by the installation and performance art of the 1970s, Shiota left Japan for Berlin to study under Marina Abramovic, whose influence can be seen in Shiota’s endurance-based performances like Try and Go Home (1998), in which the artist smeared her body with earth, entered a hole, and fasted for four days. Shiota’s work is also influenced by and aligned with that of Rebecca Horn, Ana Mendieta, Louise Bourgeois, and Eva Hesse, revealed in her use of materials and performative exploration of states of anxiety, oblivion, and remembering.
Galerie Thierry Bigaignon
For the first time ever in his sixty-year career, Ralph Gibson revisits fifteen of his most iconic photographs in music. Celebrated as a Master photographer since he invented a new photography language in the 1970s, Ralph Gibson’s double virtuosity is honoured for the first time in his career. The exhibition gives an unprecedented opportunity to revisit some of Gibson’s most iconic photographs in a totally unique way. These images, carefully selected by the artist and the gallerist, were shot between 1968 and 1990. Each photograph will come as a fine silver gelatin print and will be accompanied by a musical piece which was specifically composed, played and recorded by the artist for this exhibit.
Galerie Anne-Sarah Bénichou
In this drawing, Chourouk Hriech invents a floating world similar to Japanese landscapes, where vegetation, animals and geometrical shapes come together through a process of ornamentation akin to cave painting. Without representing them, she suggests through the lines, birds that are flying away. Hence, she creates a continuity between the kimono fabric and the animal wings spread.
Galerie Pascal Lansberg
The only Canadian artist involved with the seminal post-World War II School of Paris, Jean-Paul Riopelle was in dialogue with artists such as Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró, and André Breton when he made his surrealism-inspired, abstract paintings. Riopelle employed a tachiste style, which he achieved by applying oil paint in thick, demonstrative strokes with palette knives. He also worked with gouache, watercolour, and ink and experimented with bronze sculpture. When pop art and nouveau réalisme became popular in the 1960s, Riopelle introduced representational elements back into his work. These later paintings have been described as “abstract landscapism.” Later in his life, Riopelle also incorporated figuration and multimedia components into his signature gestural paintings.
Hans Hartung is associated with post-war Art Informel artists such as Karel Appel, Jean-Paul Riopelle, and Jean Dubuffet. After being a prisoner of war and losing a leg as a soldier with the Foreign Legion (between 1939 and 1945), Hartung returned to Paris, where he became particularly interested in spontaneity, irrationality and freedom of form. Rather than trying to control the process as earlier abstract painters had, Hartung applied paint with garden rakes, spray paint, and olive branches, embracing accidental and unexpected outcomes.
A founder of the 1960s Dusseldorf-based Group Zero, Otto Piene is best known for his paintings made with smoke and fire. Called Rauchbilder (smoke pictures), Piene applied solvent to pigmented paper and lit it on fire, developing images in the residual soot. Piene also created outdoor “figures” made from smoke that floated overhead—what he coined as “Sky Art”.
Air de Paris
Back in the old days the painting repertoire was all but immutable, but since the advent of modernism artists have broadened their horizons with new subjects. Paradoxically, what is expected of art now is the unexpected. And what we’re getting here is fucking unexpected. That a Death Metal group’s T-shirt should find its way into a painting is as improbable now as the Impressionist apparition in the traditional art world of a concert in the Tuileries or a train pulling into a station.
Galerie Lelong & Co.
Frank Horvat left an indelible mark on fashion photography, moving it outside of the studio. His work, which displays the photographer’s casual and photojournalistic eye, has been featured in Elle, Esquire, and Vogue, and he worked for the Magnum Agency from 1959 to 1961. After abandoning his fashion photography career, Horvat adopted digital photography and turned to capturing domestic life. In more recent work he has photographed trees, rural scenes, and his family, in images that reveal the artist’s keen eye for the beauty found in fleeting moments.
The monumental sculptures of Richard Serra, one of the preeminent sculptors of the 20th century, emphasize or alter viewers’ perceptions of space and proportion. “It’s all about centralising the space in different ways. How people move in relation to space, that’s essentially what I’m up to,” he has said. Inspired early in his career by modern dance—notably through his relationship with members of New York City’s influential Judson Church dancers—and Japanese Zen gardens, the artist sought to create works that engage viewers in movement, taking in his large-scale sheet-metal pieces by navigating the space around them. Serra, who was schooled at Yale with classmates Frank Stella, Chuck Close, and Nancy Graves, has been called “cerebral, single-minded, austere, as steely and uncompromising as his work.” “I have a certain obstinacy, a certain willfulness that has got me in trouble but it has also got me through,” he has quipped.
Educated in Tolouse, France, and Sichuan, China, painter Fabiene Verdier has developed a style and technique that are equal parts Western Modernism and traditional Chinese calligraphy. However, Verdier downplays her background: “I love it when people view my work without knowing anything about me.” Many of Verdier’s paintings are the result of exercises in making continuous movements with a brush in different ways, during which she varies pressure, speed, and ink density. Commonly found motifs include dashes, circular forms, and winding lines. Verdier typically works with an enormous paintbrush—made from multiple horses’ tails—suspended from the ceiling, over a canvas spread across the floor. She also creates “Walking Paintings” using a technique in which she guides ink in large quantities across paper laid on the ground by walking over it.
The above descriptions are sourced from the galleries’ press releases.
Paris Gallery Weekend is on view until the 24th of July.
Feature caption: Gil Heitor Cortesão, Untitled.