“contemporary art”

Fair play

There are plenty of art events on in Paris this March: five remarkable fairs and exhibitions a gogo. Everything you need to plan an enthralling itinerary, with stops dedicated to drawing, contemporary African art and design… Are you ready for a suite of springtime fairs? From 30 March to 2 April… It’s THE must event: Art Paris Art Fair, this year welcoming 139 galleries from 29 countries. Half of the exhibitors are from overseas, and the fair has attracted many new faces this year, with 50 % of the participants being new galleries. An unmissable gathering for the art world and the general public, this fair, held at the Grand Palais, allows visitors to discover what’s happening in the art world with an ever-savvy focus on overseas scenes. This year, its general curator, Guillaume Piens, is backed up by exhibition curator and cultural consultant Marie-Ann Yemsi (also to curate the next Bamako Encounters), who has helped to select top galleries from the African continent – including the Maghreb – and its diaspora, most of which are exhibiting for the first time in France at the event. Amongst the twenty or so galleries singled out for this African focus, a few come from very diverse horizons: Uganda is present via the Afriart Gallery from Kampala; there’s also Nigeria, with Art Twenty One based in Lagos; the Ivory Coast is represented by the Fondation Charles Donwahi from Abidjan; not forgetting South Africa, with Whatiftheworld Gallery from Cape Town. The October Gallery from London, representing El Anatsui in particular, and Parisian gallery Magnin-A, namely exhibiting Chéri Samba, present great classics in modern and contemporary African art. Also of note: the solo show accorded to South African artist Kendell Geers by Barcelona-based ADN Galeria. Emerging African creation is also represented by stands in...

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Rendezvous at the Patinoire Royale!

It’s a majestic space stretching over nearly 3,000 m2, which once delighted roller skaters. Today it’s an exhibition space with a difference, in the middle of Brussels. We spend an hour with Valérie Bach and find out about her commitment to contemporary art… at the heart of a historic monument. Valérie Bach moved to Brussels in 2005. At that time, she opened her first art gallery in the Sablon district. It was in 2007 that she and her husband discovered La Patinoire Royale, a neo-classical building constructed in 1877 right in the centre of the Belgian capital. Semi-circular arch windows, a magnificent Polonceau structure, period glasswork… They fell in love with it immediately, and very soon after, the couple bought the site. As of 2012, the Galerie Valérie Bach began presenting its programme on this site in the wing looking out onto Rue Faider, while restoration of the building’s nave continued, overseen by the Jean-Paul Hermant and Pierre Yovanovitch architecture firms. It was thus in April 2015 that Valérie Bach, along with her director Constantin Chariot and his team, inaugurated this new hybrid venue which has preserved its historic name. Already, three exhibitions have taken place here: “La Résistance des images”, showing nearly 170 works representing major figures in narrative figuration, curated by Jean-Jacques Aillagon; “Let’s Move!”, a vast retrospective of kinetic art organised by Arnauld Pierre; and “Prouvé / Takis” organised in collaboration with the gallery Downtown. And now, until 25 March, and for the first time since the opening of La Patinoire, all of the venue’s spaces are being handed over to one artist: Joana Vasconcelos from Portugal, whose show includes a few monumental works. You are the manager of the Patinoire, as well as of the gallery bearing your name. What is the relationship between these two spaces? Despite...

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Zona Maco 2017

“Latin America’s most important contemporary art fair…” At Zona Maco, sales are slowing down but Mexico City’s art scene is thriving. Throughout this week, Zona Maco’s website was unavailable to use half of the time with a message appearing across the screen announcing “Resource Limit Is Reached”. One wondered if the message was an unintentional commentary on the fair’s performance, as much as that on the dysfunctional website. Though the energy fluctuated across the opening days (8-12 February) as well as across the sections, Zona Maco often appeared slightly out of breath, lacking the thrill excitement that typically accompanies the global art world’s most successful “trade shows”. Hopping from one international fair to another with a baggage of art celebrities’ latest multimillion creations is no doubt an exhausting business, which might explain the weariness at some of the booths, particularly those of the top galleries from New York, Paris and London, whose abundance in the exhibitors’ list makes Zona Maco the most international art event in the region. Zona Maco 2017, presenting 120 galleries and 1500 artists, was unequivocally described as the most international edition so far, both when it comes to the geographical spread of participating galleries, and that of collectors in attendance. The sales however were uneven. With many dealers confirming the fair’s sluggishness when speaking in private, and asserting fantastic sales when approached in writing, one can only assume the truth must be somewhere in the middle.  Los Angeles’s Steve Turner confirmed all works from their stand, part of a curated section Zona Maco Sur, were snapped up within the first four hours after the opening. The gallery was showcasing paintings and a video by Yung Jake, a multidisciplinary artist “born on Internet in 2011”, fusing hip-hop, technology, and contemporary art.  Curiously, all the works went...

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Speedy Graphito is not a street artist!

Pertinence and impertinence… These are the traits of Speedy Graphito’s artistic journey, as revealed by the retrospective on him currently being held at the Musée du Touquet in France. See for yourself. How did you become Speedy Graphito? I’ve always painted, and I took my first drawing lessons at the age of nine. From then on, one thing led to another: I created stage sets between 14 and 20 years, and then I went through five years of training at an art school, including two years at the Ecole Estienne in Paris. My first paintings produced under the name of Speedy Graphito date back to 1984, the same year as my first exhibition at the Espace Pierre Cardin. Afterwards, the gallery Polaris – run by France’s youngest gallerist at the time – decided to back me. It was my creation of the poster for “La Ruée vers l’Art” in 1985 which ensured me sudden, immediate notoriety throughout France. Then came exhibitions, solo shows at the FIAC, and street-art interventions on the walls of Paris… “La Ruée vers l’Art” is incidentally the starting point of the show on you at the Musée du Touquet, the gateway that allows us to sweep through more than 30 years of your career. Is this retrospective important for you? I find that it’s important, at this stage of my career, to show the different periods that have marked the last few years, because people mainly know the recent works that they’ve seen on Internet. The show is a way to present series that seem dissociated from the rest, but which slot in with a global approach. The 70 paintings on show mainly come from my own collection: I try to keep at least one painting per period. Something else that is important in an...

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Centre Pompidou: pipe dreams

Delivered by architects Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano in 1977, the Centre Pompidou recently celebrated its 40th birthday. We retrace this museum, social and monumental adventure. An account of the “Pompidou touch”, an example of interdisciplinarity and cultural renown. The 40th birthday of the Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges-Pompidou, in Paris, is a national event. The Centre Pompidou was quick to become a world icon, a symbol of France’s avant-garde spirit, supported by the French president Georges Pompidou, and known for its once contested architecture, designed by the Italian-British architectural duo, Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano. At the time, some compared the building to a supermarket… “All the better. People won’t be afraid of entering it,” Piano is said to have replied. “Pompidou wanted to reconcile France with the culture of his time, noting that while our country, under the influence of André Malraux, had turned to the arts with conviction, it experienced certain difficulties in taking in more recent innovations from contemporary creation,” observed the museum’s president from 1996 to 2002, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, to Le Figaro. Planted in a once working-class district, coming up with the museum plan, then building it, were real gambles, pulling along with it a few modern and contemporary art galleries, such as the very first one to set up in the area, Daniel Templon, at 30 Rue Beaubourg, in 1972, opposite the gaping hole that awaited the museum at the time. We should mention that on the international avant-garde scene – which was starting to globalise and meet strong competition –, Paris needed a museum to reshuffle the contemporary-art cards. Inaugurated in 1977 with an exhibition on Marcel Duchamp and curated by Jean Clair, the museum, directed by Pontus Hulten from Sweden at the time, put on one themed exhibition after...

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