This is my final post about the galleries in Paris, which focuses on abstract paintings and installations, which stood out for diverse and interesting use of materials (particularly Eduardo Terraza’ show at Almine Rech Gallery, Photos 7-8). I am always grateful that I am an artist and interested in seeing as much art in any place that I travel as I get to search many different neighborhood in different cities, which always turns out to be an adventure. Exploring galleries in Paris is particularly engaging and exacerbating endeavor. On the one hand, most galleries in Paris are in a vibrant and commercial neighborhood in 3rd and 4th Arrondisement, where one can enjoy not only some great art but also some serious window shopping. In addition, there are so may pleasant places to take a break for a cup of coffee or a drink on an outdoor cafe and watch the beautiful people go by. (I particularly recommend Café Suédois inside the court yard of Institut suédois for the most serene repose and good desert.) On the other hand, it is almost impossible to find a well organized gallery guides with a reliable map and exhibition information online as most Paris art information online is dedicated for more “touristic” art galleries than contemporary art. Once you get to Paris, there is one gallery guide that can be found in many blue chip galleries with all the pertinent information (address, exhibiting artist, opening date, etc) called Galerie mode d’emploi, which is online, but in a particularly French twist, never comes up in a Google search, and has an impossibly long and peculiar web address. So I always end up just going to Yvon Lambert (very convenient location on 108, rue Vieille du Temple, 75003, Paris) and grab the guide. But I am posting the web address in this post, so everyone can always check back later. (http://fondation-entreprise-ricard.com/galeries-mode-d-emploi/) To see the PDF version (same as paper versions you find in galleries), click here. I don’t understand how a gallery can be included in this guide, but most of the “good” galleries are listed in this guide.
Speaking of Yvon Lambert, I saw an intriguing yet very frustrating show of Bertrand Lavier there. Not very well known in America but well respected in France (enough for a retrospective at Pompidou in 2012), Bertrand Lavier uses the found objects in the tradition of Marcel Duchamp and Nouveau Réalistes since the late 1960s. His work typically reflects upon the relationship between painting and sculpture, representation and abstraction with a great dose of tongue in cheek attitude. Lavier’s exhibitions are not the showing of objects or ideas, but an “intervention.” His best-known intervention is to cover everyday objects with what he refers to as typical ‘Van Gogh-brushwork’. With this act, banal objects become artworks but, even more importantly, the object becomes a painted image of itself. Paradoxically, the representation of reality only occurs when the original object is hidden from view and completely disappears. Another ‘demonstration’ consists of combining two different objects in an absurd associative manner, such as a sculpture of Alexander Calder placed upon a radiator with an identical brand name, or La Bocca (Dali’s famous lip-shaped sofa) balanced upon a white freezer manufactured by Bosch. According to the press release for his fifth solo show at Yvon Lambert (Photos 12-14), “Lavier has realized a series of new works based on the theme of Walt Disney Productions, thus offering new direction to a series he initiated in 1947.” In actuality, 1947 is the date of the first appearance of an imaginary Museum of Modern Art created by Disney Studio in a Mickey Mouse Comic Strip. However, it is nearly impossible to garner all these ideas from just viewing the exhibition without any prior knowledge as the paintings or prints (not even sure whether some of them are prints or paintings) simply resemble somewhat low rent Roy Lichtenstein (this association is even stronger as there is a Lichtenstein retrospective at Pompidou right now), not without some visual punch, but utterly banal.