“interview”

Bertrand Lavier, an a cappella interview

Following a long collaboration with the gallerist Yvon Lambert, Bertrand Lavier is, for the first time, showing work at the Almine Rech gallery. The artist is presenting a set of works from different “construction sites”, series that he gradually picks up over time as his work evolves. A guided tour.   Bertrand, your exhibition starts with a “painting room”… Here, I present several series of works, including new “Walt Disney Productions”. These works have classic frames, which give them a kitsch insolence. Stemming from one fiction – the one drawn by Walt Disney – they tip over to another – one associated with the field of art. These bright white wooden frames with foliage and arabesques highlight their artificial aspect. This is the first time that you’re using frames even if they were already present in the 1947 Walt Disney cartoon Mickey at the Museum of Modern Art. The Walt Disney Productions “construction site” started in 1984 with a series of Cibachromes, then ink jets on canvas until 2013, the year when I started painting on these prints. It was also in 1984 that I started covering mirrors with a “Van Gogh touch”. From 2011, I stopped covering their entire surface but instead would paint them with a “brushstroke touch” immortalised by Roy Lichtenstein. This way, I appropriated a fundamental gesture from contemporary painting and used it on the mirrors and Walt Disney Productions. This gesture, freer than the “Van Gogh” touch, allows me to easily follow the curves of painted motifs. For the Walt Disney Productions presented here, the fact that the whole of the canvas isn’t covered with paint means that the motif of the serigraphed outline is left visible, showing the stages preceding the final result. Have you used all the works that Mickey and Minnie discover...

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Nana Oforiatta-Ayim: a new model of showing contemporary art

Coinciding with the 60th anniversary of Ghana’s independence, the country’s capital Accra saw open a new multi-purpose contemporary art space. ANO aims to serve as a hub for the city’s growing art scene. Interview with Nana Oforiatta-Ayim, writer, art historian, filmmaker and founder of ANO.   ANO – what does this signify? It actually comes from the Ghanaian word for grandmother. In Ghana, grandmother or old woman, is a metaphor for knowledge and wisdom. ANO is very much also about bringing to the fore hidden or untold cultural histories, so she seemed like a very good metaphor for that. Also, in Esperanto it means belonging. When I started working in arts, African art was very much outside of the centre, so it is also about belonging to the world’s discourse and having our place. How was the idea for this new art space born? Last year I helped to set up a gallery, called Gallery 1957, in the Kempinski Hotel in Ghana. I had always realised the need for more sustainable spaces, but now understood the pragmatism of it. So more spaces that sell art, that invite collectors in and that give artists an opportunity to be sustainable and profitable. The space in the hotel was quite limited; a lot of people are very shy of coming into a five star hotel. So before, where we had been working more on content and narrative, now the idea of growth and even of profit, for growth, came into play. What are your plans for this space? It will be an exhibition space for exhibitions, performances and screenings, but it will also be a space for the creative community in Ghana to get together. So there is a library and a research centre. There will be lectures and workshops as well....

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DDessin or how to re-enchant the world

She’s the founder of DDessin. She’s also co-artistic director of this fair whose line keeps getting stronger and clearer every year. An hour with Eve de Medeiros, tracing the contours of a passion. It’s a place conducive to intimate passions, a spot that stands a little way back from the buzz, ideal for celebrating the aesthetics of drawing lines. It’s a fair, or more precisely, a cabinet dedicated to contemporary drawings. Welcome to the fifth edition of DDessin, a yearly event that is being unveiled from 24 to 26 March under the glass ceiling of the Atelier Richelieu, at the heart of Paris. In other words, 700 m2 wholly dedicated to paper. So much to say that this rendezvous is both a springboard and a joyful venture for the artistic scene working with this medium. Ball-point pens, graphite powder, watercolours, markers, charcoal… Anything goes. And to avoid tripping over its pencils, Art Media Agency has turned its attention to one question: what is the nature of contemporary drawing, and what issues does it face today? How did you come to drawing? How, by chance or by curiosity, did paper win a place in your life? Through people I met. First, a collector of old drawings, the cofounder of the Salon du Dessin at the Palais de la Bourse, then contemporary-drawing collectors in the context of my duties at the FIAC, working on the Prix Marcel Duchamp. What is the role or maybe even objective of such an event, beyond its commercial setting? The primary role of this fair was to rethink something that seemed problematic to me: gallerists and artists from the young artistic scene only had very few opportunities to be presented on the walls of the existing and dominant fairs. This is why I created this event....

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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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Marie-Ann Yemsi: “Our future is African”

The curator of the upcoming Bamako Photography Encounters retraces her passion for contemporary African art and the belated discovery of the wealth of this creative continent. Following studies that led her to managerial positions for international groups, Marie-Ann Yemsi made a sea change in 2005 when she set up Agent Créatif(s), an agency that would allow her to combine her appetite for contemporary art and her thirst for entrepreneurship. Her German and Cameroonian origins led her from voyage to voyage, from adventure to adventure. Not merely limiting herself to the task of supervising the African focus of Art Paris Art Fair, she is also curating the exhibition “Le jour qui vient” at the Galerie des Galeries. In December, the public can also discover her selection of video artists and photographers at the 11th Bamako Photography Encounters. Marie-Ann Yemsi explains to us why this is now finally the time of contemporary African art, and why it’s long overdue! When does your passion for contemporary art date back to? My early childhood. My parents always took me to museums. We also travelled a great deal, to several continents, which probably helped me to forget a certain openness to looking at things… After I spent a first part of my career in the luxury and communication sectors, I wanted to find an activity which would let me to live out my passion. This is how I set up Agent Créatif(s), a structure at the crossways between a consultancy firm and a project-support agency, specialised in contemporary African art and artistic production. Tell us about how you met Guillaume Piens and the organisers of Art Paris. I met him at my “Odyssées africaines” exhibition at the Brass in Brussels, presenting 16 Southeast African artists. These were key pieces by a young generation that...

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