“exhibition”

Japan’s best-known tiger

The time is 1786… On one moonless night, Japanese artist Nagasawa Rosetsu painted a huge tiger along with a dragon on the sliding panels of Muryōji Temple in Kushimonto. Descending from a “lineage of eccentrics”, Rosetsu (1754-1799) had samurai ancestors. A dazzling artistic genius who had a taste for sake, he quickly became a sensation in the art circles of the imperial capital of Kyoto, as one of the major disciples of the famous painter Maruyama Ōkyo. Quite a few moons later, today it’s at the Rietberg Museum in Zurich that Nagasawa Rosetsu crops up again, at a major exhibition whose title resounds like a spell: “Ferocious Brush”… Steering this vibrant show are two curators, Khanh Trinh, curator of the Japanese and Korean art department at the Rietberg Museum, here accompanied by Matthew McKelway, professor of Japanese art history at Columbia University, New York, and also director of the Mary Griggs Burke Centre for Japanese Art. And here, you have to admit that results are on a par with Rosetsu’s talent: mind-blowing. Let’s remember that it took three years to prepare the exhibition. While Rosetsu has already been shown in Japan, in 2000, 2011 and 2017, this is the first time that a monographic show on such a scale is being dedicated to him in the West. In total, 55 pieces, paintings and drawings, some of which come from one of Kyoto’s major Zen Buddhism centres, as well as German and American museums. We find kakejikus and other naturalist makimonos, paravents featuring fantastic landscapes, the famous gigantic tiger and dragon on twelve panels, executed in Indian ikon paper… Add to this the tour-de-force identical reconstruction of the spaces of the Muryōji Temple on a 1:1 scale, and you have an incredible overview of the art of Rosetu. A Rosetsu...

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Balthus or a treatise on style

A young girl, a cat, a mirror… We thought that we already knew everything there was to know about Balthus. But in Riehen, Switzerland, the Beyeler Foundation is staging an enlightened show on the enigmatic work of this artist. From naked bodies to serene landscapes… When we think of Balthus, we often think of his pale, consenting young ladies, surprised in dubious positions. But Balthus offers more than striking images of these sleeping beauties, these chrysalids who disturb as much as they enchant. Above all, Balthus is associated with the Italian countryside and the landscapes of the Morvan region, nostalgia for a tranquil world. In Arezzo, the painter’s vision was shaken up when he discovered the frescoes of Piero della Francesca, enhanced by a certain buzz in the air… Born in 1908 in Paris and of Polish descent, Balthasar Klossowski de Rola, better known as Balthus, spent part of his childhood in Switzerland. He became close to artists Bonnard and Derain, and with the encouragement of Rilke, he chose painting from an early age. Apart from perhaps Henri Michaux, an unclassifiable artist, Balthus had no equivalents this century. And yet, on a technical level, nothing seems to stand out in particular. Perhaps because style and great art ultimately consist in covering up one’s game. This withdrawal, this masterly discretion is undoubtedly what makes him one of the great 20th century masters. Singlehandedly, he encapsulates an original combination of Quattrocento painting, Japanese poetry, and the landscapes of Gustave Courbet. In short, something truly magical. But to get there, he’d have to put in time. His path wasn’t that straightforward. When Balthus was first shown in Pierre Loeb’s gallery, in 1934, the failure was excruciating: not a single work sold. It wasn’t until 1966, with the retrospective at the Musée des...

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Jean-Michel Othoniel… faces himself

The Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Saint-Étienne is currently giving Jean-Michel Othoniel carte blanche for his third solo exhibition at the institution. The artist’s work is also being shown at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, until 11 November. An encounter… Just how far will Jean-Michel Othoniel go? To mark the 30th birthday of the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Saint-Étienne, the artist, a native of this mining town, is presenting an even huger “wave” than the one seen in 2017 at the CRAC de Sète. A deep, intimate meditation on the artist’s future, the exhibition “Face à l’obscurité” (Facing obscurity) resounds like the end of a cycle. An interview devoid of nostalgia, tinged with memories and heady uncertainty.   Can La Grande Vague at Saint-Étienne be seen as an extension of the one presented last year in Sète? The two installations have little in common actually. Here, La Grande Vague presents a type of “matrix”. It’s designed like a somewhat threatening echo point, whose form is more ambiguous and in motion than the one shown in the south of France, which was more like a glass-brick monument. This one is a personal work, linked to my personal history and that of this town. A type of “artist’s folly” that corresponds to no museum logic.   So it’s a piece related to Saint-Étienne… Do you mean that this town has had an impact on your path? Absolutely… The MAMC triggered my artistic vocation. From the age of six years, I went to introductory art lessons at the Maison de la Culture and then attended evening classes at the town’s fine-arts school. From an early age, I became familiar with the collections of this joyful, welcoming, light-filled museum, so far removed from my memories of blackened faces and sad...

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Laurent Grasso or vibrant Earth energy

As autumn gets underway, Laurent Grasso is returning to the Galerie Perrotin with “OttO”, an exhibition which reveals the mysteries of Aboriginal sacred land, through objects and a film going by the same name. The artist has shared with AMA the issues underlying his practice: between the visible and the invisible, the scientific and the sacred… A Steiner machine, sculptures in hypnotic forms, glass spheres… These are some of the different objects associated with Laurent Grasso’s new film, OttO,  now showing in France for the first time. In this work, the artist continues his work on representing the intangible, and his research on aesthetic, fictional and poetic variations on scientific mythologies, theories or utopias… Explanations follow.   Your new film OttO at the Galerie Perrotin was shot on the aboriginal sacred lands in Australia. What prompted your interest in this area? In 2016, I was invited by Mama Kataoka to take part in the 21st Biennale of Sydney, and planned to undertake a project for it in the Australian desert. I gathered material about aboriginal culture, their relationship to the cosmos and the invisible, in the earth’s imperceptible vibrations, of which they are the guardians. I decided to make a 21-minute film which has been the starting point of my exhibition at the gallery.   Your film OttO presents deserts accompanied by quite disturbing “music”. What exactly are these sounds? The title of this film refers to figures after whom the film and exhibition are named. “OttO” is Otto Jungarrayi Sims, a “traditional owner” (symbolic owner) of Aboriginal land in Australia, from the Yuendumu community, but also Winfried Otto Schumann, a German physicist who studied the Earth’s low-frequency resonances. As well as having the same first name, these two figures share an interest in the Earth’s magnetic energy that I tried to get with a high technology...

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Alain Lombard, the new head of the Collection Lambert

A graduate of the French administration school ENA, he was previously secretary general of the Villa Médicis, a cultural attaché in Budapest, but also general administrator for the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie… His name ? Alain Lombard, who this year takes over from Éric Mézil at the helm of the Collection Lambert. An encounter in Avignon.   The news was released on 5 February this year… Éric Mézil, who had directed the Collection Lambert since 2000, would be handing over his position to Alain Lombard. After working for 17 years alongside dealer Yvon Lambert, Éric Mézil has left an enduring print on the Avignon cultural landscape, marked by ambitious programming. We remember of course his big solo exhibitions: Cy Twombly in 2007, Miquel Barceló in 2010, Andres Serrano in 2016, or more surprisingly, the outside-the-walls show, in 2014, in the former Sainte-Anne prison, titled “La Disparition des lucioles”. Now at the helm, Alain Lombard has taken on the mission of bringing life to this extraordinary contemporary-art collection… Indeed, the Collection Lambert, born in 2000 in Avignon, is quite a special museum. The works owned by art dealer and collector Yvon Lambert were long stored in the Hôtel de Caumont, and the donation of over 550 works to the French State only became official in July 2012. Now housed in two eighteenth-century townhouses – after the addition of the Hôtel de Montfaucon to the project –, the Collection Lambert offers a selection of major works from the second half of the 20th century and the start of the 21st century.   Can you tell us about your background? I had the fortune to be able to choose to join the French Ministry of Culture when I graduated from the ENA, and I’ve worked there since 1982, in...

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