“France”

Miguel Chevalier: bits & cells

He’s one of the pioneers in virtual and digital art. He tackles the question of intangibility and computer-led logic. Hybridity, generativeness and networking are at the heart of his research… An hour in the company of Miguel Chevalier, an observer of the flows dear to our contemporary society.   It’s at La Fabrika, his big studio in Ivry-sur-Seine (and so named in homage to another famous studio), that Miguel Chevalier designs his works. All around, you’ll see prototypes, 3D prints, projectors and projections…  This spring, his studio is a hive of activity as he gets set for several solo shows (at the submarine base in Bordeaux and a double event in London, at the Mayor and Wilmotte Galleries). Miguel Chevalier is also taking part in major group exhibitions, namely “Artistes & Robots” at the Grand Palais, and “AI Musiqa” at the Philharmonie de Paris.   The exhibition “Digital Abysses”, recently launched at the submarine base in Bordeaux, with ten installations and a hundred or so works spread out over 3500 square metres, is one of your largest to date… That’s right, this is my biggest exhibition to date. The submarine base is an unusual site, constructed at the end of World War II. I didn’t want to illustrate the memories of the place, but rather, work on the relationship with water and the great depths and abysses in which U-boats plunged. The large printed fabric Atlantide (25 x 9 metres) opens the exhibition, emerging as the floor of the base’s first pool. Then, we arrive at the bunker’s entrance – a spot that’s all the more interesting as it immerses visitors in darkness and comprises numerous spaces on different scales. I drew inspiration from plankton and all sorts of aquatic microorganisms, such as radiolarians and protozoa that are observable...

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The Modern, the Classic and the Indian

In Paris this spring, tribute is being paid to Gérard Garouste by three exhibitions. At the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, at the Beaux-Arts, and at the Galerie Templon… The chosen theme, “Zeugma”, creates a bridge between the collective and the individual, myth and its commentary. Find out more… In the 1980s, Alain Pacadis, the punk dandy behind the Palace nightclub described Gérard Garouste as “the artist who paints his wife and his dog”. The artist hadn’t yet evolved into the giant he would become – a top-notch status that was confirmed in December 2017 when the Académie des Beaux-Arts voted him in as an academy member, succeeding Georges Mathieu. In the 1980s, the young artist was just emerging from a few shady twists and turns of existence, and was painting to survive, possibly less for financial reasons than in an urgent response to life. Over 30 years later, things haven’t changed much. It is still Élizabeth who we find as Garouste’s Diana at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. This time, Garouste himself plays the role of Actaeon. The theme of Diana and Actaeon is one that has cropped up on many a canvas, notably handled by Titian, Luca Giordano, François Boucher and Cavaliere d’Arpino. All variations on a myth recounted in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which Actaeon surprises the goddess Diana while she is taking a bath in the company of her attendants. Failing to keep herself from the man’s sight, she blushes and throws water in his face, transforming him into a stag, whose fate is to be hunted and devoured by dogs. Gérard Garouste has taken a few liberties with the myth. His Actaeon is a wild zoophile who violates the animals before he is transformed and dies in their...

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Through the wormhole

Journalist, art critic and former head editor of AMA, Clément Thibault is also an exhibition curator, currently presenting “Wormholes”… In other words, a two-part exhibition, jointly curated with Mathieu Weiler. Showing in Paris, at the Galerie Laure Roynette and at La Ruche.   After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR, our ideological system believed itself, for a time, to be victorious. The fact that some thinkers including Francis Fukuyama conceived that History had reached its end is a symptom of this stance. Of course, events would continue to occur, but the world’s march towards liberal and democratic consensus was underway and nothing more could stop it. It was the end of the dialectic of History, survived by a single immortal system. The new millennium on the horizon could only become a continuum. Nearly 30 years later, things have changed a great deal. Democratic systems are quivering, trembling, troubled by internal or external threats. Shaken by doubts that either produce inwardness (as incarnated by the virulent debate between nationalists and globalists) or openness. Critical openness, a questioning of values. Post-modernism had already started this task of re-examining History and art history, but with regard to modernism alone. Today, all hegemonic foundations of our culture are being challenged, some of them centuries old. Foundations of a culture that is Western in its focus, namely historical, capitalistic in its economy, bourgeois in its social character, white in terms of race, masculine in terms of its dominant sex. The artists at this double-exhibition, “Wormholes” (the first part at the Galerie Laure Roynette, the second at La Ruche), operate in this context. First things first: a wormhole, in physics, is a hypothetical object that links two distinct regions of space-time, a sort of shortcut between two dimensions. Poetically,...

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Where are our art schools going?

At a time when European tertiary education is undergoing reform, French art schools make a claim to certain specificities. Between standardisation and identity, they need to evolve today while affirming their differences… So what’s the future of our public art schools?   Should public art schools be a place to train artists and citizens to experiment on their reflections? Or should they, above all, seek competitiveness on an international level? It all depends on your point of view… The standardisation of higher-education establishments in Europe, imposed by European ministers ever since the 1999 Bologna Process, using the university system as a basis, meets two major objectives: facilitating the mobility of students and promoting Europe’s renown internationally. But any harmonisation process requires adjustments that need to take into account the specificities of each player. This investigation aims to give a voice to those who contribute to reflection on French art schools: artists, teachers and directors of schools. What are the unique features of these art schools? How can the reform be tweaked so that it can be incorporated into these schools?   Learning to look at the world The first specificity of art schools resides in the content of their teaching. They teach students to take a different approach, to unlearn. “We teach a way of approaching the world, of creating an imaginary world, rather than technical knowledge,” explains artist Bruno Peinado. He describes his role as a teacher at the École Européenne Supérieure d’Art de Bretagne as the following: “Teaching students to look at the world and to create an imaginary realm from this impression. Teaching them to get rid of automatic responses and savoir-faire, in order to enrich their vocabulary. It’s a school for unlearning before recommitting to something else which would be based on the singularity of...

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Doing away with “the art of the insane”

Dr Anne-Marie Dubois is a psychiatrist in charge of the Art Therapy unit at the Parisian institution, Hôpital Sainte-Anne. She is also scientific director of the hospital’s museum for asylum creation. When psychiatry meets art history… Workshops are multiplying, patient demand is rising… From the treatment of anxiety to schizophrenia, art therapy has met with growing enthusiasm in mental healthcare institutions for the last thirty years or so. Used for psychiatric purposes, art-therapy techniques may well also change the way we see otherness, and transform our fears about insanity… To find out more about this art whose contours are still hazy, we went to meet the psychiatrist Dr Anne-Marie Dubois, in charge of the Art Therapy unit at the Encephalon Mental Illness Clinic. At the heart of the Parisian hospital Hôpital Sainte-Anne, this doctor is also scientific director of the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, whose creation dates back to the end of the 19th century. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including “Les Unes et les Autres”, “Psilocybine”, or “Elle était une fois” devoted to the Collection Sainte-Anne (until 28 February2018). From therapeutic issues to aesthetic commitment, Anne-Marie Dubois presents this “psychopathological art”: a singular practice crossing over mental health and art history. An interview.   The exhibition “Elle était une fois” goes over the history of the Hôpital Sainte-Anne’s collection. What are the milestones of this history? The oldest works date back to 1858. Already in the 19th century, a certain number of psychiatrists and artists paid interest to these spontaneous works produced by hospital patients. Some of these patients discovered, by chance, that they enjoyed this activity while others already practised art before being hospitalised. At a time when hospitalisation periods were long, this art could be described as “asylum” art – which is no longer the case...

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