Expounding creativity and innovation, Paris+ par Art Basel, now in its second edition, has been a resounding success for the City of Light. As the doors swung open on the Fair’s first day, a palpable energy charged the atmosphere, echoing with the hum of anticipation.
This year’s Fair boasted a curated selection of artworks that demonstrated quality. Conversations buzzed with dialogue as Fair goers took in the diverse work presented by the galleries.
The presence of established, blue-chip artists added a layer of ultra-sophistication to the event. The Fair also served as a fertile ground for discovery. Emerging talents found their voices, with work capturing the imagination of keen-eyed enthusiasts and collectors.
Reflecting on this dynamic amalgamation of art and commerce, one cannot help but recall Marcel Duchamp’s audacious act of bottling the very air of Paris. In a metaphorical sense, Paris+ par Art Basel seemed to have captured that essence – the intangible but undeniable spirit of artistic enthusiasm that permeates the city.
Stay tuned as Artlyst Journalist Clayton Calvert unravels the layers of creativity, innovation, and inspiration that defines The Fair, offering a glimpse into the heart of the contemporary art scene in one of the world’s most iconic artistic capitals.
This beautifully textured rapturous painting of a man at an open window catches your eye from anywhere you see it. The elegance of the form, coupled with the beautifully rendered areas of light around the composition, make for a visual feast. As the title implies, the shadows dance throughout the composition and subtly lead the viewer’s eye around the painting. The scene seems like a joyous occasion as the protagonist pulls back the curtain on a sunny scene in a beautiful location. He seems keen to embrace a beautiful day, and using the partition as a visual device recalls Picasso’s Demoiselles d’Avignon. Unlike Picasso’s women, this subject seems utterly disinterested in the viewer’s gaze. The work was done in residency in Grand Bassam, Côte d’Ivoire.
Jospin’s presentation of works at the Ruinart booth is mesmerizing. She transforms the mundane material of cardboard into sublime structures referencing nature and architecture. These carefully crafted works are made using a small hand tool that Jospin wields as if cutting through butter. Her process is extraordinary as she whittles away the layers of cardboard to create deep and intricate scenes. There is a strong environmental component to her work as well, as she depicts both forests and man-made structures using recycled cardboard. This is a powerful reminder of how much cardboard we use to order packages online or ship things. We should all aspire to reclaim like Jospin does or, at the very least, to ensure the material does not go to waste. Jospin’s work is a call to action and hints that this action yields beautiful results resulting from a refined process that does not require tremendous physical exertion.
Two figures clutch hands and cross legs in what can only be described as an intimate moment. Their eyes are closed and their bodies bundled up in winter clothes as a tempest swirls around them; it may be a final embrace or a consoling moment. They are larger than life as they stride on a small promenade with tiny benches and lamps that recall Central Park in New York City. The deep red of the man’s face contrasts powerfully with his green garments, as does the woman’s umber coat with the lighter yellow highlights in her hair. The swirling background highlights the falling snow, depicted in black and white flakes. The single barren tree at the woman’s foot gives the impression that this is not a happy dance. Schutz also has a comprehensive exhibition of 40 paintings spanning over 20 years at Musèe d’Art Moderne de Paris from February 11, 2024.
A dog stares you down from anywhere you view the painting in the same fashion as the Mona Lisa. The haunting eyes of the hound give way to tongue-in-cheek and serious “notes to self” etched into the trees behind this canine sage. Quotes like “Be present, be yourself, the rest will follow” or “You are not as depressed as you pretend to be”, separated by the dog’s body “, Well you truly are” suggest something else is afoot in this initially banal scene. The rich surface of the painting only helps to add to the powerful mood of the piece and the extensive grisaille colour palette of the forest heightens the ochre and pale yellow of the dog. The scene is haunting and yet welcoming. Landers also excellently renders the textures of the birch bark, the dog hair, and the snow, presenting strong contrast in that way. Landers currently has a perfectly placed exhibition titled Animal Kingdoms at Musèe de la Chasse et de la Nature that is up through March 10, 2024.
This perfectly balanced and graceful assemblage is also physically imposing. A bronze stairlike structure protrudes from the rock and encourages the mind to wander right up it. There is also a rod piercing the rock that hints at Bernini’s Ecstasy of Saint Theresa. The rod is the stem of lilies, as you can see from the other side, traditionally a symbol of purity in Western Art. One cannot help but be curious about where the stairs lead, what is between the rocks, and just how this piece stands. The texture of the bronze plays beautifully off of the natural rough-hewn surface of the stone. Kwade is a master of material, metaphor, and both large and small-scale forms.
Richter was at the height of his artistic capacity in the 1980s, as evidenced by this incredibly crafted piece. The sophisticated feel of the layering and the colour scheme are instantly arresting. Colour is strewn about everywhere by his squeegee technique. It certainly begs the question of what the painting looked like before Richter skillfully obliterated the image in favour of a composition that can only be described as a rhapsody of hue and tone. This powerful painting shows its age in a way that speaks to Richter’s understanding of the process of how thick oil paint ages; every great oil painting eventually cracks. The scale is approachable, but the impact is immense.
This large-scale symphony of colour and geometry is slightly atypical for Sze’s oeuvre. There is a looseness in paint application that is not often present. A beautiful beach scene is behind the right side of the panels, while a hand draws on the left. A flame burns as if melting the colour throughout the canvas so that it drips down in a rainbow milieu. The diagonal compositions on the centre of either side of the piece also draw the viewer into this large-scale experience. The drips give way to sharper lines, and the images become even more crisp upon closer inspection. The painting is mesmerizing and hypnotic as the eye travels around it.
This beautifully constructed painting appears flat and monochromatic from the primary viewing angle while yielding to a dynamic textural and colorful surface as you work your way around it. Oysters are the reference and the material here as Barcelo has masterfully crafted a surface. At first the calcite shells appear to be painted texture but upon closer inspection the material becomes clear. Oysters are a symbol of opulence but more importantly they are a symbol or restoration and nature’s power to regulate itself. These bivalves are incredibly important in marine ecosystems and can act as breakwaters protecting tidal surge and filter about 50 gallons of water daily. This piece speaks to the environmental crisis we are currently living in while also having been created in 1988. It is a forward thinking call to action and an urging to explore the beauty of the natural world.
This striking painting of a featureless bicycle rider is perfect for Paris Plus Art Basel; after all, cycling is a huge pastime here in France—the subject cycles forward through a country landscape in a dimly lit scene that is quite captivating. The muted tones only add to the mysterious mood of this work, and there is a general haziness of form that allows for a lot of allusions. Where is the rider going, and for what purpose? There is a house in the background and flowers in the foreground that encourage the viewer to seek to identify the location. It really could be anywhere but a major city. I think the work may also reference that we can all go cycling to avoid driving from place to place and reduce our carbon footprint.
Countless large-scale works are at the Fair, yet this intimate portrait stands out. The subject stares out at an unseen vista in a pensive pose. This reflective gaze could be sombre or be a brief moment of contemplation; it is not entirely clear. The loose brushwork on the panel heightens the sense of ambiguity as Peyton expertly renders the thought process. The composition becomes looser as you move away from Sam’s face, and negative space in the cushion and arm are excellent pictorial devices to engage the viewer. The dark lines of the leaves and the beautiful colour transition on the left of the paintings invite the viewer to imagine just what Sam is seeing or thinking about.