They say that in Paris, the story finds you. With the first edition of Paris + Art Basel opening after Frieze London, the city of lights has re-emerged as the leading capital of culture. Whilst the fair was sensationally vast but perceptually challenging, rammed with ‘wealth’ tourists posing as art aficionados, the arrondissements Le Marais, St Germain. Matingnon and Belleville (thank you, @parisgallerymap) were positively buzzing with openings, platforming a dizzying array of global talent alongside a host of landmark institutional shows and legacy auctions.
Generally, light is used to reveal something about the object. I use light as the revelation itself. —James Turrell
As Paris + Art Basel is temporarily situated behind the Eiffel Tower in Le Grand Palais Éphémère on the Champs de Mars (7eme) until the real Grand Palais renovations are complete, Artlyst took the opportunity to survey the fairs “Sites” and collateral openings in the 6eme and 8eme arrondissements and this is what we found:
Following the light, we started with James Turrell at Gagosian’s rue de Ponthieu gallery, also showing Ed Ruscha, concurrent to Jenny Saville (rue de Castiglione) and Richard Serra (Le Bourget). On the gallery’s second floor, set into a custom-built white space, Confidences is a pairing of two elegant new works by Turrell that somehow encapsulate the elusive chic de Paris. Testing our perception of space, each installation features planes of light that move slowly against and into one another behind an aperture to generate alternating impressions of total flatness and near-infinite depth. On the right is the attention-grabbing (Ariel, 2022), a diamond-shaped cavity with soft round corners, in which a sequence of vibrant, neon colours emerge and vanish seamlessly. Opposite (Jeu, 2022) is a medium ellipse-shaped work, which emits the softest, barely perceptible blush hues. Midnight and dawn, turning around were like driving out of the city into the desert – moving towards an endless horizon. Told we could not talk pictures, we lingered to absorb these with our minds.
Since the 1960s, Turrell has been exploring a variety of perceptual phenomena. Early works like Mendota Stoppages (1969–74) employed planes of light in relation to architecture, which became the basis for an ongoing manipulation of the built and natural environments. Using light as the primary subject and material, these formally simple works explore the edges of perception. More recently, his Glass Series (started in 2001) incorporated the latest LED technology. In these, Turrell proposes that “light creates a space for the viewer to experience revelation itself” rather than illuminating. Difficult to describe, these extrasensory works have something to do with endings or departures: we understand that we are witnessing an event that will, subsequently, influence everything else we perceive. (https://gagosian.com/exhibitions/)
PAUL GAUGUIN (1848-1903), Maternité II
Stepping out again into the Parisian night, a large tapestry caught our eye in the window of Christie’s. Inside, a preview of works from Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection gave us a chance to see Maternité II, by Paul Gauguin; sumptuously spotlit, the lustrous skin of a great beauty reflects a baby pink cloud in lime green sky. Pure desire. One of 150 masterpieces to be auctioned at the Rockefeller Center Galleries in New York, 9-10 November, from the estate of the co-founder of Microsoft, valued more than $1 billion, The Paul G. Allen Collection is poised to be the largest and most exceptional art auction in history. Including ground-breaking works by Paul Cezanne, Georgia O’Keefe, Paul Klee, Pierre Bonnard, and Gustav Klimt; according to Allen’s wishes, the estate will dedicate all the proceeds to philanthropy (we would love to know more).
Genesis Kai’s “Manifest 2021” at Asian Now – Paris Asian Art Fair – October 2022
Perfectly situated in Monnaie de Paris (Paris Mint),11 Quai de Conti, Asia NOW celebrates its 8th edition in this 18th-century palace (a short walk across the river from the Louvre and the Bourse de Commerce – Pinault collection). Multiple exhibitions, installations, open-air projects, talks and performances took place across its gilded halls and open-air courtyards. There we discovered the delicate porcelain work of Angel Hui Hoi Kui at Alisan Fine Arts, also coming to Cromwell Place in November. (https://www.asianowparis.com)
We had our minds blown by P21 Gallery from Seoul launching Genesis Kai, a virtual artist conceived to tell “phygital” stories through performative digital documentation, beginning with her inception. Throb floating inside a large rectangular screen attached to a glossy, vermillion robotic arm by Doosan Robotics, this punchy installation was augmented by the historic gilt and mirrors. Manifest signals the beginning of a difficult but necessary conversation about AI and what autonomy – if any – we should give these linear, singular-purpose machines. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6yLlm39RkEE
Neda Razavipour, Oscillations, AB-ANBAR Gallery
From here, we were fortunate to meet Iranian artist Neda Razavipour (https://ab-anbar.com/artists/67-neda-razavipour/exhibitions/) ahead of her performance Oscillations, which explores the question of balance and how this is contingent on navigating the extremes of order and chaos. Staged simultaneously to Hans Ulrich Obrist’s talk with the Art Newspaper, her performance might also be remembered as a landmark intervention to the fleeting voracity of art fair tourists and wealth spotters. To those of us watching, their distraction was shamefully comedic. Considering the horrific backdrop of women being overlooked or disappeared in Iran – as a revolution is quashed in Tehran – Razavipour identifies one of the key contributors to the chaos in our society: our collective lack of attention… Later I would meet the artist Azadeh Ghotbi, who will feature in our next article on this topic.
Henrique Oliveira,Xilempasto 17, 2022, Oil, paper-mâché, and metal mesh on wood
Next stop was the Galerie Georges-Philippe et Nathalie Vallois on 33 and 36 rue de Seine, (https://www.galerie-vallois.com/en/) for a private tour of Henrique Oliveira Small Abstractions. Showing this November in London, Brazilian artist Oliveira’s “EXLP” series or ‘sculpture paintings’ are created through a sequence of extreme layering: beginning as large oil paintings, he zooms in on a fragment to extract and enlarge, then creates a papier-mâché structure, replicating the volume, which is overlaid with thick layers of paint. Oliveira also filled an entire room of the gallery with a site-specific work – a giant, curvaceous branch assembled in wood reclaimed from building sites. The title – Xilempasto – refers to the wood protection palisades typical of Brazilian construction sites. Oliveira adopts this technique for smaller works, combining natural and painted wood pieces to create three-dimensional compositions whose vivid movements evoke those of Action Painting. We enjoyed the contrast of this show with a gem of an exhibition further down the road at Galerie de L’Institut of Picasso’s small sculptures.
Sadie Coles at Paris + Art Basel, showing Alvaro Barrington
With so much to see inside Paris + Art Basel, selecting when to stop was a choice between sensation or familiarity. We began with Sadie Coles, out in front with a killer, sold-out stand showcasing large paintings by Alvaro Barrington. His multimedia approach to image-making employs burlap, textiles, postcards and clothing, exploring how materials always retain their personal, political and commercial histories. (https://www.sadiecoles.com/artists/59-alvaro-barrington/). Also notable at the fair was a proliferation of tapestries, including The Pursuit of Love, by Glenn Brown at Galerie Max Hetzler and a stunning piece by Laure Prevost, A sign of God, at Galeria Nathalia Obadia (https://www.nathalieobadia.com), ideal works to insulate giant, drafty palaces in a current economic downturn (Laure Prouvost was awarded the Turner Prize in 2013, the Max Mara Prize for Women in 2011 https://www.whitechapelgallery.org/about/prizes-awards/max-mara-art-prize-women-2/).
Joanna Piotrowska, Father I + II, 2022, silver gelatin prints, Galerie Thomas Zander
In Paris, you can always count on the money shot. Marion Goodman had a stellar line up including Nan Goldin and Thomas Struth; Galeria Raffaella Cortese were showing a triptych of works by Roni Horn, made during her residency on the Thames (https://raffaellacortese.com); but the stand-out piece was a black and white triptych by Joanna Piotrowska at Galerie Thomas Zander. Having caught our eye at the Venice Biennale, the practice of London-based Polish artist involves photography, video and performance. Her images articulate all the complexity of human relations. https://www.galeriezander.com A special mention goes to the excellent duo presentation of works by Paris gallery Jousse Entreprise for Vigil of Arms, curated by Noam Alon. A seamless dialogue of paintings by Nathanaelle Herbelin in dialogue with video and video documents by Anne-Charlotte Finel, made at dawn new the landing strip Charles de Gaulle, this show was a celebration of the serendipitous connections that emerge during time spent with artists and curating in that liminal space. (https://www.jousse-entreprise.com/en/)
Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale, La Fine di Dio, 1963 at Tornabuoni Art
Walking through the crowds, we were stopped in our tracks by a luminous green egg, the work of Lucio Fontana, elegantly hung on a slate grey wall at https://www.tornabuoniart.com/en/. It turns out there were two at the fair, the profits of which could fund a university.
NOT TO MISS
The retrospective dedicated to Joan Mitchell at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, just like the segment that places her work into dialogue with Claude Monet’s last paintings, offers a moment of dazzlement. The surprise of (re)discovering an artist, Joan Mitchell, too long underestimated in favour of her male colleagues – and sometimes friends – is increased tenfold by the exceptional quality of the loans and the intelligence of the exhibition itinerary that links the two projects.
Top Photo: (Ariel, 2022) opposite (Jeu, 2022) James Turrell, in Gagosian’s rue de Ponthieu gallery
Words/Photos Nico Kos-Earle