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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Working Promesse: design in flux in Saint-Étienne

The 10th Biennale Internationale du Design de Saint-Étienne “promises” a new approach to design to match our shifting work paradigms. This experimental 2017 edition also queries, in inspired fashion, the impact of digital technology on our lives. Opening on 9 March. Does the 21st century mark the end of the era of the beautiful and functional designer object? This simple question draws an answer that is complex, or at least, qualified! At a time when our society is embarking on deep changes, in a context of world crisis and accentuated tensions, the notion of design also seems to be undergoing a complete metamorphosis. And for good reason: the new technologies which increasingly invade our personal and private lives, are triggering new behaviour from individuals at work, and more widely, in their daily lives. These new attitudes have been assimilated and taken into account by today’s designers in their practice. For the last decade or so, design has turned towards social phenomena, towards services, used by users who also are undergoing deep change. Working Promesse, the latest edition of the Biennale Internationale du Design de Saint-Étienne, takes into consideration these new directions in its exhibitions, performances and experiments, where the object is joined by, or even gives way to social, utopic, or critical reflection on the issue. In 2012, during the sixth Biennale Internationale du Design de Liège, Ezio Manzini, a professor at the Polytechnic University of Milan and founder of DESIS (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability), explained to the press that design could now be defined as “an approach and a set of tools”. Exit the one-off production of objects; the profession can now be viewed as the development of “networks” that pay attention to the user who plays a role in perfecting these new systems. In 2017,...

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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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Made in India: the new Indian contemporary-art scene

A meeting with “India” lover, art dealer and collector Hervé Perdriolle. With discussion turning around ethnocentrism, vernacular culture, the art market and the Warli tribe… Hervé Perdriolle is a collector as well as an art critic and exhibition curator. A promoter of Figuration Libre, he participated in the first exhibitions of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Ravinder Reddy in France. Since 1996, he has worked towards raising awareness of the “Other masters of India”, these contemporary artists stemming from tribal and popular art. In September 2009, he opened his collection to the public in his apartment-gallery near the Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, where he welcomes art lovers by appointment…   What exactly is “Indian contemporary art”? India is a country composed of singular histories. A place we find contemporary art stemming from the local cultures, and also contemporary art inscribed in the global culture, the type where we come across artists supported by major international galleries today, with close ties to the art market, this nebula which for me is an artistic and economic haze. I myself believe that culture is about complementarity, about differences that dialogue with one another; this is the richness which has always fascinated me ever since André Breton’s cabinet of curiosities or André Malraux’s imaginary museum. This is also why the global response doesn’t satisfy me. Stuart Davis once said something when he painted the neons in American cities as a prelude to Pop Art: “The universal is offered in local terms. Great art looks to the commonplace to find a meaning pertaining to life as a whole.” Finding the universal in the local: this is something that has always pleased me enormously. Could you elaborate on this? I imagine that Jackson Pollock, for example, also turned away from his European influences by...

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In Gent, the invisible made visible

Until 5 March, the Design Museum in Gent is celebrating the savoir of hands in its exhibition “Hands on Design”. A happy modern-day marriage of craftsmanship, design and industry. Marking the eighth Triennial for Design… Since 1994, the city of Gent has honoured Belgian creation through its Triennial for Design. Johan Valcke, director of Design Vlaanderen, a company which promotes Flemish design and curator of the event at the Design Museum, has steered the triennial from the outset, starting up this project which stems from a policy implemented by the Belgian Ministry for the Economy in 2014. After visiting, over a two-year period, some thirty SMEs, Johan Valcke developed the idea to reveal those “helpers” who work in the shadows, those hands which confer high quality to objects through partially hand-made fabrication, while profitability is assured by industrial production. This theme offers an opportunity to discover that craftsmanship, the very essence of creation, is very much present in the 21st century, while also becoming hybrid and hi-tech, used to develop a resolutely humanist and ecological form of design. Johan Valcke, why did you choose the “handmade” theme in relation to design for this eighth edition of the Triennial for Design in Gent? “Hands on Design” proves to be the logical follow-up to the topics tackled in the previous editions. Between 1994 and 2000, the first three events unveiled the relationship between artistic professions and design creation, as well as industrial design, graphic design and communication. Over that time, Belgium discovered that it held many real talents in all these domains. The following events featured themes such as the notion of beauty in design, social and service design. Finally, this year, we are paying homage to the often invisible work of hands in design production. All these themes dialogue with...

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