Jānis Avotiņš wins the 5th Prix Jean-François Prat

The 5th Prix Jean-François Prat was awarded to Jānis Avotiņš on Wednesday 13 April 2016 at the Palais de Tokyo by Bertrand Lavier who chaired this edition. Born in 1981, Jānis Avotiņš lives and works in Riga (Latvia). A graduate of the Art Academy of Latvia, he is represented by the gallery Ibid. (London – Los Angeles). He was shown at the Latvian National Museum of Art in Riga in 2016, the gallery Ibid. in London in 2015, the Vera Munro gallery in Hamburg in 2014 as well as the Johnen Galerie in Berlin in 2013. His work offers distant aerial painting representing different temporalities. The work holds an existential dimension that touches on political issues by updating certain images from the Soviet press. He creates almost evanescent images — somewhat reminiscent of Gerhard Richter — that are suggestive of the reconstruction of memory and the difficulty of perceiving reality. For the 5th year of the Prix Jean-François Prat (and the 50th birthday of the law firm Bredin Prat), the Palais de Tokyo hosted an exhibition from 14 to 17 April presenting the 14 finalists from the different editions of the Prix. An opportunity to see Farah Atassi, Jānis Avotiņš, Zander Bloom, Guillaume Bresson, Nicolas Chardon, Mathieu Cherkit, Philippe Decrauzat, Stelios Faitakis, Maude Maris, Anne Neukamp, Gavin Perry, Raphaëlle Ricol, Matt Saunders and Rezi van...

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Death of Malick Sidibé (1935-2016)

Malick Sidibé is a Malian photographer known for his portraits of Mali nightlife in the 1960s. Born in 1935 to a family of shepherds in what was formerly French Sudan, he was offered, in 1952, a place in the Ecole des Artisans Soudanais in Bamako. He acquired his first studio in 1962. Very popular, he was nicknamed “the eye of Bamako”. He is well known for his photographs of discos that capture the spirit of youth in the 1960s-1970s, a period of deep political changes following Mali’s independence in 1960. He has been exhibited in various institutions including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Centre d’Art Contemporain in Geneva, and the CAV Coimbra Visual Arts Centre in Coimbra. In 2007, he was the first African artist to be awarded the Golden Lion at the Venice Biennale, in recognition of his entire career. Robert Storr, artist, critic and curator, has said the following about him: “No African artist has done more to enhance photography’s stature in the region, contribute to its history, enrich its image archive or increase our awareness of the textures and transformations of African culture in the second half of the twentieth century and the beginning of the twenty-first than Malick...

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Death of Julie Becker (1972-2016)

Artist Julie Becker has died at the age of 44 in Los Angeles. After a stint at the Hochschule der Künste in Berlin in 1991, she returned to Los Angeles and obtained a BFA and a MFA at CalArts. Her work presents miniature architectures and dioramas. She was the youngest participant at the 23rd Biennale of Sao Paulo. Her work blends humour and imagination, creating new narrations by associating images from popular culture. In Suburban Legend (1999), she synchronised The Wizard of Oz with Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon for the film’s new soundtrack. She has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Her works are included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the Guggenheim, the Hessel Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, and the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst in...

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A Blade of Grass announces its 2016 Fellows

A Blade of Grass, an association that supports artists whose works have a political or social element, has announced the names of its Socially Engaged Art Fellows. The fellowship – consisting of a $20,000 endowment and access to the association’s resources – is granted to 5 artists and 3 collectives. The 2016 Fellows are: Xenobia Bailey, Black Quantum Futurism, Courtney Bowles and Mark Strandquist, Chinatown Art Brigade, Joseph Cuillier, Simone Leigh, Rulan Tangen and Frances Whitehead, and Rebecca Mwase and Ron Ragin. The Rebecca Mwase and Ron Ragin collective will receive a fellowship jointly financed by A Blade of Grass and the David Rockefeller Fund for their Freedom Chamber project presenting sound sculptures that reflect the experiences of individuals imprisoned in New Orleans. The executive director of A Blade of Grass, Deborah Fisher, has commented on the institution’s choices: “These are artists who are changing what art is, who it’s for, and what it does. We nurture these artists in a way that is specifically geared toward increasing the effectiveness and visibility of their work, and understanding its value both within the contemporary art discourse and the broader...

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Claudine Drai, Letter papers

Encountering Claudine Drai’s work is like encountering a world. At gallery 111’s stand at Art Paris Art Fair, it was possible to sight the first lands, fashioned from paper. Working with this substance as if it were a “material for tearing”, Claudine Drai seems to tirelessly explore the fringes of worlds, “the frontier of consciousness”, where sometimes surprising meetings can be made – like that with Olivier Kaeppelin, president of the Fondation Maeght to which the artist recently gave one of her works. How do you feel about the fair’s energy? I don’t really feel any energy but I feel the emotions of people about the works. There is not the energy that I might have felt at other fairs where favourites stood out immediately and purchases were made straight away. There is a lot of waiting and uncertainty amongst visitors. But we’ve had some magnificent moments of emotion. I feel that my work has touched some visitors, sometimes beyond my expectations. This injected a bit of energy into me, even if people are more careful about going on to buy. My world needs to be tamed. When my world is discovered for the first time, time is needed to interiorise it. What I find very beautiful is these initial approaches, these first looks that open up pathways. The work needs to be experienced with people who come to see it, and to watch how it will continue to live in them. These are extremely long internal processes. Works are not products. A lot is being said about paper this year, with the fairs focusing on drawing and Korean artists working with Hanji paper. You work with silk paper and Tengusho paper. How do you see this material? I’ve always used paper. Paper is a material, it’s a world....

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