At the beginning of July I had lucky four days in Paris – good weather, last days of some excellent exhibitions, discovery of new art neighbourhood and lots of crunchy bread.
First day I headed to gallery Lelong & Co on rue de Teheran, near Parc Monceau. It was showing the art of Leonardo Drew – abstract sculptural works that play with the tension between order and chaos.
The gallery on its website wrote that the artist uses wood, scrap metal and cotton, rich in historical and anthropological references. You could see that the used wood have had a long life, having seen a lot. I immediately wanted to touch the burned wood. Coming from a country with strong midsummer celebration tradition and jumping over fireplaces at midnight and checking for party evidences in the fireplace the next morning (an occasional shoe), this was a very happy exhibition.
The kind gentleman who buzzed me into this gallery said they have a partnering gallery couple streets from there in a new bustling area for galleries, mainly on Avenue Matignon. I accepted the suggestion after viewing all works, and couple minutes later found myself somewhere near the Arc de Triomphe.
The gallery of the same name on Avenue Delcasse showed works of Kiki Smith, a West German-born American artist whose art addressed the themes of sex, birth and regeneration. This particular show of works felt like a conversation about being born, the start of all things – as if coming back to the very core while very fragile. The drawings and sculptures were interestingly calm – I could stay there watching them for a long time.
The gentleman earlier was right – the neighbourhood was full of amazing galleries, one after another. I think I was exiting one door and entering the next one. At the Huberty & Breyne gallery I soaked up the inspiration from Francois Avril, a French painter who is very much my cup of tea.
There were multiple greens, greys, blacks and blues. As if he was Latvian:) According to Artsper, Mr. Avril is a major figure of comic strip as an art. He is a graduate of the National Superior School of Applied Arts and Crafts and did a lot of illustrations for publications and ads – now that I read about him, this information makes so much sense in his works. His clear lines and play of colour spots are very refreshing, and just simply aesthetically pleasant.
The next gallery I really enjoyed was gallery Mayoral. It’s welcoming host introduced me to the works of a Chinese-French artist, Zao Wou-Ki. The exhibition – The Youngest Among Us All: Zao Wou-Ki on Joan Miró – shows the works of the artist along with a piece by Jean Miró. Both lived in very different times however Salomé Zelic, the curator of the exhibition, brought together works that allow a conversation between the two artists to emerge. The curator says they shared friendships, common inspirations, a particular sensitivity for the gesture, sign and light, and above all, a profoundly poetic approach to their artistic practices.
The gallery next door turned out to be Kamel Mennour gallery, with the mood-lifting exhibition of the Ugo Rondinone’s work. The gallery beautifully wrote in its press release – “A naked woman is sitting on the floor. Her eyes are closed. Her head is bowed. As is her upper body, stabilised by her left arm, while her right arm, slightly further back, rests on her foot. The sculpture is human in appearance and visibly moulded from a model full of bodily vigour – and for good reason: this is a dancer.”
It goes on to say the sculpture was made some ten years ago and was part of a group of sculptures depicting the fragility of wax and vitality of bodies.
I then decided to skip a beat and enter in every second gallery, since the working hours of all were coming to a close and I thought I must see the end of this street. I visited Perrotin gallery and from what I gathered they were changing the exhibition or in process to do so, so I only saw couple of works at the front space – those of Damien Hurst and couple others. My taste differs to that of fans of his work, however you can’t ignore the altitude of his persona and artwork that he has built. Amazing.
The next day I headed to an exhibition I had eyed from the moment I arrived to Paris. Six years ago Boris and Inara Teterev Fund had made an exhibition at Riga Bourse – Le Charme de la Provence, gathering tremendous collection of Provence inspired art. It was there when I first saw the work of Raoul Dufy, a French Fauvist painter (1877 – 1953). I researched his work and was very happy to see that the Museum Montmartre was showing the last days of an exhibition dedicated to Raoul Dufy, one of the largest exhibitions of his work to date.
Raoul Dufy did it all – designs of ceramics and textiles, paintings, posters, maps, decorative schemes for public buildings and more. He is known for his colorful, decorative style that became immensely fashionable. At some point in his life he lived and work in Montmartre and he would often go and paint Paris from the footsteps of the Basilica of the Sacré-Cœur. Some say the depictions of Paris is what made him world famous. For me, it is the mix of colours and forms. I was happy to once again see the same painting I saw in Riga – the lady in pink.
I then headed to my favourite museum in Paris Museum Marmottan, near La Muette metro station. It is relatively away from the biggest tourist crowds and bustling roads, near a community park, hidden in a small street among alike-looking buildings that if you don’t know it’s there – you might miss it. However, it is the home of the worlds largest collection of Claude Monet works.
Time to time, the museum organises temporary exhibitions of other painters. Some years ago that’s how I got to know the exquisite works of Marie Laurencin. This time around, not knowing that there’s any new exhibition, I stumbled upon the art of a Danish painter Peder Severin Krøyer (1851-1909).
The small photos might not be kind to Peder Severin Krøyer artworks, however in life they are simply beautiful. I am a most definite fan of Impressionism and some closest styles, depicting light and the time when men were wearing costumes and women – white hats. His works are so easy to look at, I would love to have one at home.
At the end of Krøyer’s exhibition, I go down the stairs to the permanent collection. I usually have light goosebumps, knowing – soon, soon I can sit in front of those paintings!
They give me a lot of energy and somehow bring me to my core and remind me of a much younger self. I won’t bore anyone with photos of paintings you probably have seen a million times but I’ll share just one. One painting which surprised me. Over the many visits I have never seen the connection I saw this time.
Claude Monet, like many great artists of his and earlier (and actually – later time too), had painted in various techniques and styles until finding his own. His famous water lilies maybe are the epitome or culmination of his skill and style (I wish I could ask him). However in this painting I see that he, I think, had broken the path to something next.
In the time when Monet was living, the art styles changed a lot and were characteristic to decades. Painters either followed or fore-fronted them. Impressionism, expressionism, cubism, surrealism, realism etc. For example, my art tutor Mr Baida said that Picasso – either tremendously smart or lucky (or both) – was always first to lead a new art style and that way always remained topical. For some reason I looked at this painting by Monet and I think he cracked the future and embraced the abstract art of modern.
In the evening I went to Marais for some falafels and more art. I wanted to get to a street were I saw on the map the biggest saturation of galleries, but the metro stop where I was suppose to get out was adjacent to a shopping mall where the underground floor was for building materials, facets, shower cabins, tiles, flooring, paints, hammers, fabrics – in short, a heaven on earth with my second favourite kind of art – interior design.
The first gallery I visited was on rue du Perche – gallery of Pascal Gabert. Also not my taste, but it is impossible to miss the level of detail and the richness of cultural references the artist Daniel Authouart had put in his artwork. And it is so French.
This particular painting was on sale for EUR 28 000.
The gallery Lazarew was just around the corner, and as I entered, and group of people were exiting. The person working at the gallery smiled at me and said – “you have flat shoes, ok.” I looked at him with a question mark in my eyes and he just pointed to one older gentlemen leaving who was wearing a T-shirt, Gap shorts and black high heels (with platforms). I know it’s not stylish to pay attention to these things, but it was so colourful and differnet and real – I was happy:)
It this gallery a painter Aharon Gluska had a show Imagined Landscapes. The artist wished to represent not existing landscapes, but the very process of the constitution of natural elements, particularly minerals in their last expression. These Landscapes, deserts all in matter, captivate by their silent and mineral power. The gallery writes on its website that contemplating them brings us back to the purity of the origins, preserved from the madness of men.
The next gallery was David Zwirner – hidden away from bustling main streets of Marais in a quite courtyard, surrounded by three (or maybe even four?) other galleries. The exhibition of works by Belgian-born, Mexico-based artist Francis Alÿs was dedicated to immigration processes in the Gibraltar, titled – Don’t cross the bridge before you get to the river.
This was one of the most impressive exhibitions I saw. The struggles and differences of people on both shores, and the attitude of the world towards those searching for a better life. The exhibition in Paris ended today, but I hope the artist will show it someplace else too.
The next gallery – apologies, I don’t remember the name and google maps is not helping me – held an exhibition of works that seemed so soothing for the end of the day – full of colour and brightness! Unfortunately I didn’t write down the artist’s name, but it was a women – I’ll share her work anyway, I think it’s eye-catching.
I accidentally crashed an opening party of one art exhibition – very hip and hot. I don’t know why but I wasn’t allowed to take photos. It was pop-art, it was cool. I will instead share a photo of the entrance to the gallery – people awaiting the artist to arrive.
The last day I dedicated to Louvre, as it was opening after its long closure due to pandemic.
I had never noticed that in the room where is Mona Lisa on one wall – the somewhat 80cm x 50cm of a size painting, the opposite wall holds a painting of 3m x 5m, an enormous artwork doomed to not get the recognition is deserves. My mom made a guess that the Director of Louvre really didn’t like the artist who painted it:)
I share a couple of paintings from Louvre that seemed interesting to see. The Salome, the smiling boy my Leonardo da Vinci, the guys with the cool hair, the women with her child (by a women-painter, something rare in time when the profession was male dominated), and the depiction of the French Revolution – recently together with very close friends and their children – my godchildren, we were watching Les Miserables and seeing it was very nice continuation of the topic.
That’s it! Thank you to those who stayed till the end:)