“Fondation Fernet-Branca”

David Nash, time and nature

Wood, erosion and seasons… David Nash’s art is rooted in our planet Earth. We met him in his home in Wales, where he’s hidden himself away in a former chapel. This is where he sculpts his life-size works with the help of a chainsaw and welding torch, watched by an audience of trees. “They look at me…” David Nash was born in 1945 in Surrey, England. Today acknowledged as one of the most illustrious British exponents of Land Art, he works relentlessly with his material of choice, wood, to create installations or sculptures. While his creations are exhibited in museums all over the world, his largest formats have been created for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield, or his own home, in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales. Here, Nash resides in a former chapel, impressive in its dimensions and brightness. It houses some of his oldest pieces, which Nash is fond of reworking, attesting to a cyclical approach to time. This summer, David Nash’s work is being shown at the Fondation Fernet-Branca near Basel, while another exhibition has recently wrapped up at the Museum Lothar Fisher in Neumarkt, Germany. The Galerie Lelong which represents him in Paris is also unveiling his new works on paper until 13 July.   After you finished your studies, you decided to settle here, in this former church in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Why? I bought it in 1968 for 200 pounds and as I didn’t have to work to earn money, I was able to devote myself to my art. But I taught in different schools from 1970 onwards, working with students experimenting with all types of mediums. For me, creativity is one and the same whatever the medium, and what I’d teach them in particular was to develop confidence in themselves, whether in painting, sculpture or...

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The Fondation Fernet-Branca: Space and spirit…

The scene is Alsace… The backdrop for a story on how a digestive based on bitter plants has led to pure aesthetic euphoria. From the bistro to the museum, via the Fondation Fernet-Branca. Here’s to the foundation’s health! “1,500 m² for contemporary art!” There’s no beating about the bush. Barely two minutes after welcoming you onto Alsace soil, Pierre-Jean Sugier, director of the Fondation Fernet-Branca since November 2013, indicates how things stand. Or rather, the surface area on which they stand… Here, at number 2, Rue du Ballon, in this former distillery set up in 1909 in the Alsatian town of Saint-Louis, a centre dedicated to the creation of our times now thrives. A place offering space, and also spirit… A spot that suffers from no lack in charm. As is often the case, art began here when industry dried up. Indeed, the art centre opened its doors in June 2004, following the stopping of production of the well-known Fernet-Branca bitter herbal liqueur, four years previously. Ricard had already carried off the bistro-to-museum transition when it set up, on Rue Boissy d’Anglas in Paris, a business foundation for the visual arts from the fruits of its aniseed-based liqueur. So if a cocktail beverage from Marseille dared to do it, why not an Alsatian digestif? This is no doubt what the Municipal Council of Saint-Louis said to itself at the time: a strong brand identity, a building listed as a French Historic Monument embedded in the local industrial memory… In the context of a new urban project carried out for the city, two men stepped forward: Jean Ueberschlag, deputy-mayor, and architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte. The project was to take advantage of the cross-border environment to inscribe the town in the trinational cultural network around Basel. Switzerland already had its Fondation Beyeler,...

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Focus on Lee Bae at two exhibitions in France

Lee Bae’s work is currently the focus of two exhibitions in France: a retrospective at Fondation Fernet-Branca (Saint-Louis) — running until 31 August —, and a view of his new works at Paris’s Galerie RX, which is on display until 12 July. The Korean artist’s work takes multifarious forms: from painting to drawing, to video and installation sculpture. He does, however, retain a consistent focus on the natural form of coal, which he employs both in its charcoal form, as a tool in his drawings, or in its raw state in installations. For the exhibition at Galerie RX, “Charbon 2000 – Médium Acrylique 2014”, Lee Bae uses charcoal to create a powerful contrast between the deep black of his markings and the milky surfaces of his canvases. Fondation Fernet-Branca presents four of Lee Bae’s installation works, as well as eighty works displaying the artist’s aptitude across an array of media. The retrospective presents material from 1997 to the present day. Lee Bae was born in South Korea in 1956 and lives and works in Paris. He is represented both in France (by Galerie RX), and in Korea (by Hakgojae Gallery). Formerly the assistant of Lee Ufan — considered one of the era’s most significant South Korean artists —, the pair are often likened to one another in their artistic...

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