“Paris”

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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Images that come to life…

Art critic, journalist and former head editor of AMA, Clément Thibault is also a curator. He is presenting, in Paris, “Rituels, Images vivantes”: an exploration of the things handed down from magic and shamanistic thought and surviving in the work of contemporary artists.  On show at H Gallery.   Why, in 2018, would anyone set up an exhibition on the permanence of images, gestures and ideas derived from magic thought and living on in contemporary art? Firstly, because spirituality, as a whole, is experiencing a resurge in interest, echoed and sometimes initiated by artists. Western societies are on the lookout for magic again, and seeking to emerge from long centuries of all-triumphant phenomenology and the excesses of rationalism. As if there were a need to rekindle ties, sometimes awkwardly, with the inexplicable. For some time now, scientific writings have had a lot to say about modified states of consciousness and timeworn religious practices. The New Zealand parliament has recognised the Whanganui River as a living entity with its own legal identity… There are countless examples of this spiritual upsurge, nurtured by ecological stances, rethinking about humans as opposed to non-humans, and the development of non-anthropocentric materialism, supported by global networking. The second reason is because the H Gallery space and layout are well suited to such an exhibition: its two rooms separated by a corridor are like two states separated by a passageway. A layout that offers an architectural metaphor of ritual.   The effects of ritual The intention, in the first space, was to consider the way in which the iconography of ritual inspires artists, before examining the idea of living images. The fact that an image plays with its referent, and cultivates a type of haziness with it, is a classic basis of all magic thought, as...

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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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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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Antoni Clavé, a multiplier

In Paris, until 25 February, the BnF is presenting a short but stunning retrospective featuring lithographs and engravings by Antoni Clavé, accompanied by the publication of a new catalogue raisonné on his engravings. Spotlight on this event. Antoni Clavé once bathed in glory but over time, the tide has ebbed. In the 1950s up to the 1980s, his models, his kings and warriors, and his bullfights in earthy ochre and black tones gained a certain renown. Subjects that might seem a little dated today, like Bernard Buffet and his clowns some would argue. “Above all, he was a humble artist who steered clear of honours,” remarks Aude Hendgen, an art historian for the Archives de Clavé and head of the catalogue raisonné recently published by Skira. “In Barcelona, he always refused having a museum devoted to him despite several proposals.” A Clavé Galerie does exist, but in Japan: the first venue to be entirely dedicated to the artist, designed by Tadao Ando, and inaugurated in March 2011 in Yamanashi, near Tokyo – after the artist’s death, therefore, in 2005. Today, the exhibition at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BnF), “Antoni Clavé, estampes”, mounted following the donation of 92 prints by Clavé’s grandchildren, displays fifty or so pieces executed between 1955 and 1995. The fruit of numerous techniques: lithography, etching, aquatinting, engraving, carborundum engraving, goffering, collage and lithography on Kraft paper. The exhibition’s aim, according to one of its curators Céline Chicha-Castex, is to establish a link between Clavé’s engraved and painted work, and to reveal a few of his references. But above all, it is to bring back into the spotlight an artist who has been a little neglected, left in the shadows of other great Catalans: Antoni Clavé, the bridge that one could nonetheless place between Joan Miró and...

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