Exhibition Review: ‘Lumières, The Play of Brilliants’ exposition, Éléphant Paname

Exhibition Review: ‘Lumières, The Play of Brilliants’ exposition, Éléphant Paname

6th March – 31st May 2015

After handing over our tickets to be verified, the steward pointed us in the direction of an entrance. Upon entering, our senses were immediately struck with the darkness of the interior. The lights were low, the room was empty of people, and we were confronted with a circular floor-to-ceiling installation. However, this is not just any normal installation. Utilising both water and light in a captivating way, DGT’s (Dorell, Ghotmeh, Take) Light in Water is a magical sight. It actually takes a couple of seconds to register what is occurring in this otherworldly spectacle. Falling from the ceiling is a cascading waterfall, which is illuminated with the continual changing strength of lights, creating an ethereal experience for the viewer. Intensifying the experience further, visitors can walk into the very centre of the installation, becoming one with the piece. The exquisite combination of light and water makes the water droplets seem light graceful falling diamonds. Opening the exhibition, DGT’s Light in Water truly sets the tone for the rest of the show, creating a continual enigmatic atmosphere which is maintained throughout the upcoming works.

Welcome to ‘Lumières: The Play of Brilliants’ exposition at the Eléphant Paname. Arranged throughout various rooms of the building, beginning with DGT’s Light in Water one continues the journey by ascending upwards through the building.

This is an exposition all about sensory experience, and the ways in which one can encounter and participate in the perception of the works on display. On show are eleven different light installations, varying from size, medium and meaning.

DGT ( Dorell. Ghotmeh. Take), 'Light in water'
DGT ( Dorell. Ghotmeh. Take), ‘Light in water’
DGT ( Dorell. Ghotmeh. Take), 'Light in water'
DGT ( Dorell. Ghotmeh. Take), ‘Light in water’
Soo Sunny Park, 'Unwoven Light'
Soo Sunny Park, ‘Unwoven Light’

Another incredible work worth mentioning in depth is Soo Sunny Park’s mystical installation, Unwoven Light. Suspended from the ceiling, Unwoven Light is an enormous sculpture composed of reflective diamonds made from dichroic Plexiglas of varying colours and transparency. Similar to DGT’s Light in Water, and of course the other installations on display, Unwoven Light is a truly sensory experience. The wave-like sculpture manipulates the light in the room, to reflect and refract the light in a multitude of incredible ways. Reverberating off the walls are a plethora of multi-coloured and rainbow-like illuminations, transforming the whole room into a jewel. Unquestionably, this is a very poignant and sensory installation, with every viewer’s encounter different. The ethereal quality of the work certainly confirms Soo Sunny Park’s ultimate object of the piece:

“We don’t notice light when looking so much as we notice the things light allows us to see. Unwoven Light captures light and causes it to reveal itself, through colorful reflections and refractions on the installation’s surfaces and on the gallery floor and walls.”

Soo Sunny Park, 'Unwoven Light'
Soo Sunny Park, ‘Unwoven Light’
Soo Sunny Park, 'Unwoven Light'
Soo Sunny Park, ‘Unwoven Light’
Flynn Talbot, 'Primary'
Flynn Talbot, ‘Primary’

 

In the adjacent room, visitors are presented with Flynn Talbot’s sculpture, Primary. Installed onto the back wall, the viewer is presented with the work face on. At first glance, Primary looks as if a two-dimensional work that creates the illusion of being a three-dimensional piece. However, on further inspection, Primary is actually constructed with protruding projections, 121 spikes to be correct.

However, this piece is not only about light. For Talbot, one of the main intentions of the work was to explore the ways in which we experience colour through light. Projecting primary colours, which are then lit via different sources of LED lights; red, blue and green all blend to create different combinations. As Talbot states, “Colour in light is different to paint for example… the wall sculpture is designed to break up the light and explore the mixing of colour.”

Flynn Talbot’s Primary is ultimately a work wherein light and the object are inherent to one another, working in unison to provide an engaging visual experience. Continuously transforming into a variety of colours, there is something mesmerising and hypnotic about Primary.

Flynn Talbot, 'Primary'
Flynn Talbot, ‘Primary’
Flynn Talbot, 'Primary'
Flynn Talbot, ‘Primary’

Overall, Eléphant Paname’s ‘Lumières: The Play of Brilliants’ exposition is intended to make the viewer engage with the various installations on show. With the aim of stimulating the senses, ‘Lumières: The Play of Brilliants’ is a brilliant exhibition that shows the blurring of the boundaries between art and technology, but also the material qualities of the work and the immaterial nature of light.

You can see more of the photos that I took whilst at the ‘Lumières: The Play of Brilliants’ exhibition here over my Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/roisingrace/sets/72157649247395563/

For more information about the exposition, click here: http://www.elephantpaname.com/fr/programmation/lumieres

Exhibition Review: Jeff Koons Retrospective, Centre Pompidou

Exhibition Review: Jeff Koons Retrospective, Centre Pompidou

Following the box-office success at the Whitney Museum in New York, the Jeff Koons Retrospective made its way to the Centre Pompidou this November. However, with the success in the box office, came a myriad of reviews – not all positive. The aim of the retrospective is to offer viewers a clear chronology and documentation of the evolution of the controversial artist.

Chronologically arranged, visitors first encounter Koons’ ready-made works, beginning with his collection of vacuum cleaners from around the 1970s. Having previously visited the Centre Pompidou’s previous retrospective exposition of Marcel Duchamp, and which at one point was still open along side the Jeff Koons show, it is clear to see Koons’ influences in the Duchamp. However, the collection of vacuums I felt were arbitury. For Duchamp, such ready-mades were revolutionary, something never encountered before in the History of Art. But for Koons, it feels contrived and merely an attempt to aggrandise himself to the same artistic and originality as Duchamp. This part of the exposition felt almost like entering a museum for household furniture of the past. Having encountered this part of the exposition first, things could only go up from here.

What I did find interesting from the early work of Koons, is his commentary on the world of marketing and advertising with regards to social class. It is in the ‘Luxury and Degradation’ part of the exposition where visitors are offered a glimpse into the political views. Having observed “how the aesthetic and slogans used in various liquor advertisements varied according to the social class they were targeting”, as told in the commentary on the wall, “Koons reprinted a number of these advertisements on canvas in oil-based inks.” It is here that the seriousness of the underlying problem inherent in marketing.

Following this, we are fully merged into the persona of Koons that we all know. Displayed across the room are a number of sculptures, many taken directly from popular culture. This included the infamous Michael Jackson and Bubbles sculpture of 1988. There is something haunting and actually very disturbing about this sculpture. The dark, lifeless eyes stare out at the viewer. Observing this sculpture for quite some time had me questioning the choice of materiality. The imitation of gold seems to have put Michael Jackson and his monkey on a high pedestal. The aggrandisation I guess pop culture gave the singer. However, for me this is merely piece of grotesque commercialsation. Each to their own. Upon looking at Koons’ sculptures, I did often question myself about the nature of ‘what is art’ and if these sculptures were a testify to such.

It should also be noted that part of the exposition is not suitable for those at least under the age of 18 – this is the Made in Heaven room. Lets just say that some of the things I saw can never be unseen.

Michael Jackson and Bubbles, Porcelain, 1988, Jeff Koons
Michael Jackson and Bubbles, Porcelain, 1988, Jeff Koons

Not was all lost however. I was surprised however, to encounter some of Koons’ paintings on show in the exposition. Once again, caution should be granted to the identifying Koons as the sole executor of the work, as he had the aid of his studio assistants to paint the works. Despite this, the vibrant, photographic quality and hyper realism of the paintings were wonderful. In fact, many of the objects in the scene resonated with my childhood – from little toy figures, to my personal favourite, Play-Doh.

Although we can criticize all we like regarding the artistic skill and ethics of Jeff Koons’ work, one cannot dispute the fun and lighthearted nature of his works from the 1990’s. This was one specific part of the exposition that I was particularly looking forward to seeing were the intentionally celebrated enormous inflatable sculptures. The exhibition includes Koons’ Celebration series, to which on display are Balloon Dog (Magenta) (1994-2000) and the giant Hanging Heart. Looking at these sculptures, one almost escapes back into childhood, as there is something amusing about them. Despite the kitschness of them, I really quite like them, in an ironic way of course… In 2009, Jeff Koons joined in unison with the Chateau de Versailles, and hosted an exposition within the Chateau itself. Situated in the different rooms and courtyards of the palace, I can only imagine how interesting a juxtaposition this would have created. Therefore, after seeing this big sculptures in the Centre Pompidou, I think I would have preferred to have seen them in different setting.

Hanging Heart, 1994-2006, Jeff Koons
Hanging Heart, 1994-2006, Jeff Koons

 

Concluding the exposition, Koons’ most recent work looks back to the world of antiquity for inspiration. The series titled Gazing Ball, includes cast figures of various famous antique sculptures with gazing balls placed on them. The aim, I guess, of such pieces is to force viewers to question the relationship between art of the past and the present, to enquire about the History of Art in general. However, I could not even allow myself to probe such questions, and to me they are simple an attempt to create something abstract and problematic.

Despite all the negative comments made, I did really enjoy the exposition. What I liked was the experience of seeing these various works, and watching others encounter them also. As many critics have mentioned, there is something very familiar and accessible with Koons’ work, therefore it will come as no surprise that visiting the exposition were many school trips. Situated around all the works on show are invisible alarms, that were going off right left and centre throughout my visit – from people too close to various sculptures to little children wanting to touch them. This just proves the interactive quality of Jeff Koons’ work, which is probably why he has been such a success throughout the world. We are only human after all.

Even though the ‘meaning’ of the work may have been disregarded by myself, Koons’ works are extremely photogenic, and so I took great pleasure from taking many photos of the various works on show. And I certainly wasn’t the only one enjoying the interactive nature of his objects. With the reflective works, many people were actually queuing to be able to take the perfect selfie reflection – although interacting with the artwork, these are surely just acts of narcissism that is in turn represented in Koons’ work? The vain society of today, and the sheer dependency for material, therefore seems to parallel the sculptures of Koons and perhaps his work has more layers than I had first anticipated.

Whether a fan or not, one cannot argue that Jeff Koons has caused quite a stir in the world of art throughout his career, instigating the need to question various important questions about commercialism, the production and the meaning of art in general.

Have you been to the exhibition? If so, let me know what you thought of it! Or perhaps you decided against going to see, which in that case, I would love to hear your thoughts.

Gazing Ball (Ariadne), Plaster and glass, 2013, Jeff Koons
Gazing Ball (Ariadne), Plaster and glass, 2013, Jeff Koons

All the photos that I took during the exhibition are here on my Flickr account: https://www.flickr.com/photos/roisingrace/sets/72157651522755319/

To get more information about the exposition, head over to the Centre Pompidou main website: https://www.centrepompidou.fr/cpv/resource/cABRrbG/r4ydaM6

Le Printemps à Paris

Le Printemps à Paris

It has been a while since I have managed to sit down and write a blog post, and to my lovely readers I apologise! The last few weeks have been busy, and despite all this chaos, we are finally catching the first glimpses of Spring here in Paris (aka. Printemps en Francais). It may not be April just yet, but we are indeed experiencing more rain at the moment – sigh. Moving on from weather issues…

As I mentioned, my somewhat hectic schedule has been a fun one! Two weekends ago I was blessed to have my parents come and visit me in Paris. As it was both Mother’s day on the Sunday, as well as Mum’s birthday, we made the most of the time we had together. This included venturing to the Marché aux puces de Saint-Ouen and the Puces de Vanves Marché, which both have amazing trinkets and antiques on offer. For those who don’t know my father, he has a little (‘little’ being gigantic) passion for collecting records, and so these markets were somewhat like stepping into Paradise! Albeit it overpriced compared to his usual experiences at British car-boots. We also had pre-booked tickets to go and see the ‘David Bowie Is’ exhibition that is currently on a world-wide tour. Having grown up listening to Bowie, and with a father and uncle who are big fans, I was extremely excited to attend. We were unfortunate to not be able to see the exhibition in the V&A when it was in London, with mum and I instead going to the cinema for a tour of the exhibition – without having to leave Liverpool or our seats! It was great to have my parents over, not only to celebrate my mum’s birthday and because I’ve missed them, but also to be treated out for some nice food!

During the week, I met up with Emily Guerry, one of my old tutors from York who was visiting Paris with her current students from Cambridge University. I was delighted to be able to join Emily and her pupils on some of their visits. On the Monday we met at the Musée Cite de l’architecture et du patrimoine and examined the many Romanesque and Gothic reliefs; Tuesday morning saw me join them for a visit to the Abbey de Saint-Germain which is very close to my language school; and on the Friday I headed with the group to Laon to see the fantastic cathedral (as well as going to a lovely dinner that night!). Spending much time with fellow medievalists got me all excited for getting back to further study next year and continuing researching something that I am so passionate about.

The following weekend (this one just gone) also welcomed Sally, an old friend from school. I haven’t seen Sally in person for around 3 years, and so it was awesome to see her in the flesh and not on my Skype screen. Sally is also an Au Pair, but in Berlin, so she knows the routine that I am currently in. Due to her flight arriving the same time I collect the children from school, Sally had to jump in the car and come for the ride! The plus of this was that I gave her an unconventional tour of Versailles. We spent our weekend dining out with good friends. One of the reasons why me and Sally are such great friends is that we have such similar interests, one being art and culture. So we ended up exploring the Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l’Orangerie, and the current exposition at the Éléphant Paname gallery. I also took Sally around the Sainte-Chapelle – any trip to Paris avec moi is not complete without visiting this divine beauty, and I was excited to see that all the boards covering the renovation work have been removed. En fin! I will definitely have to go back again soon with my dad’s wide-eye camera lens to try to capture this exquisite space. Although the weather was pretty rubbish during the weekend, we were blessed with blue skies on Monday morning. So, before Sally’s flight we headed off on a bike ride in Saint Cloud park to see the wonderful views of the city. Unfortunately for me, I could not get on the spare bike (it was too big for me!), and so was left with the only options of running next to Sally or to take a children’s scooter. I chose the latter. What an intense workout! Never again.

So there you have it. My March thus far, which continues to be a busy one. Tomorrow is my birthday, and on Saturday night I will be going to dinner with some great friends of mine for Thai – I have been dreaming about Thai food for so long now, and cannot wait.

The Virgin and Child sculpture at the Abbey de Saint-Germain
The Virgin and Child sculpture at the Abbey de Saint-Germain
The western front of Laon Cathedral
The western front of Laon Cathedral
One of Monet's stunning paintings on display at the Musée de l'Orangerie.
One of Monet’s stunning paintings on display at the Musée de l’Orangerie.

 

 

‘Time is not measured by clocks but by moments’: Musée d’Orsay

‘Time is not measured by clocks but by moments’: Musée d’Orsay

This Saturday, some of my closest friends and I went to the Musée d’Orsay. In addition to exploring all the beautiful paintings and sculptures on display, we could not miss seeing the iconic clock on the top floor. The vista of Paris from the clock is amazing, with stunning views of the River Seine and La Basilique du Sacré Cœur, amongst many others. Here are just a few of the photos I took.

Exhibition Review: ‘Voyager au Moyen Âge’ exposition’, Musée de Cluny, Paris

Exhibition Review: ‘Voyager au Moyen Âge’ exposition’, Musée de Cluny, Paris

The current exhibition at the Musée de Cluny offers a journey through time and space during the Middle Ages. ‘Voyager au Moyen Âge’ (‘Travelling in the Middle Ages’) hosts a variety of key aspects of travel in the Medieval period. As one walks around the exhibition, which is currently on show in the third-century Gallo-Roman thermal bathing hall, you are presented with different types of traveller, from the merchant to the pilgrim, the prince to the artist. Furthermore, the exhibition highlights the diverse reasons for travelling during this time, encompassing specific issues such as the aspiration for knowledge, the need to demonstrate visibility within specific societies and the journey of the afterlife.  On show are a selection of varying objects, including tapestries and reliquaries taken on travel, to illuminated manuscripts illustrating maps of various countries. Probably the most notable artefact is displayed right in the centre of the exhibition – the fragments of a medieval boat which have been recreated to provide a tangible sense of the physical nature of such journeys and what they may have entailed.

Overall, the objects on show are interesting, and offer one an insight into the various aspects of travel during the Middle Ages. The exhibition closes on 23rd February 2015, so there’s still time left to be transported and travel through the life of a medieval voyager.

You can view more of my photos taken within the exhibition here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/roisingrace/sets/72157649491292490/

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‘Medieval Morocco: An Empire from Africa to Spain’, Louvre, Paris

‘Medieval Morocco: An Empire from Africa to Spain’, Louvre, Paris

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Yesterday I was lucky enough to meet with a friend who is studying at the Courtauld, with her fellow classmates and professor, to look around the current Medieval exhibition at the Louvre. The exhibition titled, ‘Medieval Morocco: An Empire from Africa to Spain’ offers a glimpse into a period when the Medieval Western Islamic world was at the height of its glory, as much in terms of its artistic production as its place in history. Focusing from the 11th to 15th centuries of Western Islamic dynasties, this exhibition presents over 300 objects that aim to show this culture’s long and complex history, which is crucial to an understanding of Medieval Morocco and Islam.

This exhibition shows many beautiful objects, including architectural decoration from various Mosques; textiles and ivory; and it also displays a plethora of illuminated manuscripts and examples of beautiful calligraphy. Many of these objects are extremely rare, not only in historical value, but because many have never been showcased in such a way to the public. Even though I have previously studied various key examples of Medieval Islamic works, I have never studied this particular area as a whole in depth. Despite this, I found the exhibition really interesting. Coming from a different perspective research wise during the same time period, it is completely fascinating to notice the differences in style and workmanship. If you thought Medieval Christian Reliquaries were lavish and ornate, many of the objects in the ‘Medieval Morocco: An Empire from Africa to Spain’ exhibition will be able to change ones mind. For example, before entering the exhibition you encounter an elaborately carved Grand Chandelier originally from Fez, Morocco. Created between 1202 and 1213, this magnificent Chandelier has intricate patterning and inscriptions adorning the surface. This is truly a beautiful piece of art, and one can only imagine how awe-inspsiring it must have in-situ. I can imagine good old Abbot Suger being very impressed!

Ultimately this a great exhibition, offering an interesting insight and opportunity to view the complex history of Western Islamic Culture that is not often displayed in comparison to the work and history of Medieval Christendom.

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Below are a few more photos that I took around the Louvre before entering the exhibition.

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