“Drawing Now”

Drawing Lab, a place for experimentation

Not far from the Louvre, the brand new Drawing Hôtel is home to… the Drawing Lab, a private art centre wholly dedicated to the promotion of contemporary drawing. An encounter with Christine Phal, founder of the Lab and the Drawing Now fair, held at the Carreau du Temple. Until 20 May, the Drawing Lab’s exhibition space is presenting Strings, a show featuring artist Keita Mori, accompanied by curator Gaël Charbau. The drawings, covering the walls and using thread, are projected in the air, stretch out across paper… or else turn into video performance. A subtle art, a metaphor of crossings and migrations, that one could say sums up the evolution of contemporary drawing in the last decade or so. Ever since, that is, the creation of Drawing Now, the fair currently being held in Paris, from 23 to 26 March. Your choice of showing Keita Mori to launch your new venue, the Drawing Lab, is no accident. It reveals how drawing has evolved in recent years. The Drawing Now fair which you’ve been organising since 2007 was quick to integrate this evolution… When I set up the fair, the type of drawing that artists wanted to present tended to be graphic works on paper, and the fair’s configuration was such that most propositions went in this direction. But the evolution of our gaze, of the way in which artists express themselves, and of the relationships that we’ve set up with other venues, have enabled us to move on. I remember that when Carine Tissot (editorial note: her daughter and partner in Drawing Now and Drawing Hôtel, who manages the hôtel – private mansion in French) and I were in New York for the Armory Show in 2009, we discussed the definition of drawing with Brett Littman, director of the Drawing...

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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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Galleries which celebrate 10 years with Drawing Now

From the more than 80 galleries from all over the world showing at Drawing Now Paris, four galleries have stuck with the salon for all ten years of its existence. Christian Berst Art Brut is Paris’ only gallery specialised in Art Brut. On the relationship between the gallery and the fair, director Christian Berst comments that “both the fair and the gallery have somehow managed to recognize each other for being active in fields that required renewed conquering and expanded horizons. As if we were working, each in our own way, to move beyond the market’s set status quo; the salon by demolishing the idea that drawing is a minor medium, and myself by encouraging contemporary art to include Art Brut.” He recognises the impact of the Drawing Now salon on the perception of drawing as an art medium, noting that drawing is taken more seriously as art now than ten years ago. Galerie Jean Fournier credits the salon for being a strong platform to maintain its European customers in a niche market of more affordable prices, as well as a good platform enabling the discovery of younger emerging artists as well as the rediscovery of more renowned artists. Director Emilie Ovaere-Corthay remarks, “The audience at Drawing Now is truly noteworthy for their deeply loyal connections that we sense in collectors who display both emotional and intellectual consideration.” They have featured Michel Partmentier as their choice for the Master Now series. Galerie Bernard Jordan, which has spaces in Zurich, Berlin and Paris, notes the constantly increasing number of international collectors and new audiences to the fair. Bernard Jordan reminisces on the experience of exhibiting at the fair in 2009 – “We enjoyed a venue with a great location that was still a little run down, in the Carreau du...

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Contemporary Drawing: The Many Faces of Now is Our Future

On the special occasion of Drawing Now’s tenth year, the selection committee were asked to hand-pick an emerging artist to present in a special exhibition. The aim of this exhibition, curated by Philippe Piguet, is to communicate specific aspects of contemporary drawing that these artists imbue in their work. The selection committee, comprising of art critics, institutional representatives, art collectors, and connoisseurs, are praised for their efforts over the last decade in this special exhibition of their personal preferred drawing pieces. All the pieces exemplify a particular aesthetic, technique, style, and approach to this medium, and work together to curate a unified body of the latest offerings in the world of drawing. Christian Bernard, former director of Mamco, presents the work of Béatrice Cussol. Cussol’s work makes use of a Surrealist stylistic approach. The image conveys multiple meanings simultaneously and at the same time, urges the viewer to interpret the piece as they wish. Laurent Busine, former director of MAC’s, is presenting the work of Bertille Bak. Bak’s work conveys a tremendous intimacy through line and the inclusion of the personal in every rendering. Collector Michel Poitevin presents the work of Karine Rougier. Poitevin states about the artist’s work “… what appeal’s to me is her work’s restraint. Nothing is imposed, but instead reveals itself”. Olivier Kaeppelin, director at Fondation Maeght, presents the work of Assan Smati. Smati’s lively work endorses the playful and encourages movement. Alexandra Fau, art critic, presents the work of Charlotte Charbonnel. Charbonnel’s work, fleeting and plastic all at once, engages the viewer with a cloud ‘caught’ between two microscope plates and is truly a product of contemporary drawing. The collectors Nicolas Libert and Emmanuel Renoird present the work of THE KID. The work of this artist challenges any complacency in the viewer. Realistic, massive,...

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MASTER NOW: Rare works from masters of drawing

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of Drawing Now, a new feature of this year’s edition is the MASTER NOW programme. Eleven galleries highlight specific artworks which they consider masterpieces by one notable artist whom they represent. During the fair, these artworks are placed on black walls, that set them apart from the rest of the displays, and form a visual guide to some of the most interesting drawings at the fair. Christine Phal, the chairwoman of Drawing Now, explains that the principle of Master Now is to showcase lesser known aspects of the work of renowned artists – such as Pierre Alchinsky at Gallery Pierre Lelong, Georg Baselitz at Gallery Catherine Putman, or Markus Lüpertz at Gallery Suzanne Tarasiève – with drawings that are connected to the rest of their work and develops a part of their expression. Some other interesting choices include William Burroughs at Semiose, whom many know more as a writer, less as an artist. Guo Fengyi was the artist chosen by the gallery Christian Berst Art Brut. A self-taught artist, she is the only female artist of non-Western origin featured in Master Now. Christian Berst explains that the work he chose, an untitled piece, is a work significantly different from the one most people have seen at the 2013 Venice Biennale. It is one of the first drawings of her career. “I found it interesting to promote a work in progress,” says Berst. He believes that it shows a greater intensity than in her subsequent drawings, because it was made at a stage in her career that she could not imagine that many people may see her work. The galleries participating in Master Now: Fengyi Guo (Christian Berst Art Brut), Claude Viallat (Galerie Bernard Ceysson), Michel Parmentier (Galerie Jean Fournier), Jean Dubuffet (Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger), Paul van der Eerden...

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