Anish Kapoor exposition at the Palace of Versailles

Anish Kapoor exposition at the Palace of Versailles

This summer, visitors to the Palace of Versailles Gardens are welcomed with a nice surprise. Located around the estate are the works of English sculptor, Anish Kapoor, which will be there until 1st November 2015.

Known for his world-famous sculptures including the Cloud Gate in Chicago’s Millennium Park (also known as ‘the Bean’) and the 2012 London Olympics observation tower, ArvelorMittal Orbit in the Olympic Park, there is something very interactive and interesting about Kapoor’s work. I, myself, have been fortunate to have seen many of his works in person prior to seeing them scattered around the royal gardens of Versailles.

Since June 9th, the Palace of Versailles has opened its grounds to some of Kapoor’s well-known works. The six sculptures on display around the estate create an interesting and complex dialogue with the pristine order of the gardens, in which Kapoor aims to “upset the balance and invite chaos in”, which I believe he has certainly achieved.

As previously mentioned, Kapoor’s works are extremely interactive, using the viewer to bring the artwork to life. The captivating sculptures on display enable viewers to explore a variety of dualities, engaging with the different boundaries of the present and past Versailles.

On first glance, Kapoor’s ultra-modern sculptures do look somewhat out of place, but on closer inspection and interaction, perhaps they work better than first anticipated within the environment of the Palace of Versailles.

Two of the most interactive sculptures on exhibit are located closest to the Chateau on the terrace. Sky Mirror (2013) immediately confronts visitors at the top of the terrace. Raised up towards the sky, the reflective surface of the sculpture invites viewers to see the landscape and Palace of Versailles from new angles. When I first saw Sky Mirror I actually thought it was a giant SKY dish!

Located adjacent and within closer proximity to the Palace is C-Curve (2007). The reflective surface of C-Curve turns the environment of Versailles on its head – literally making everything upside down. Thus forcing the viewer to redefine their place within this landscape.

One of the things that I will always think in conjunction with any visit to the Palace of Versailles is tourists – and more importantly, photos. When walking around the Palace and grounds, the amount of people (myself included of course) taking photos and rarely standing to appreciate the sights in view, are extremely high as one can imagine. Therefore, Kapoor and the curators have done something very clever with choosing these two sculptures to be placed on the terrace. The interactive and reflective nature of the sculptures not only bring into focus the surrounding environment of the Palace, but invite visitors in to explore their own relationship within these thresholds.

Another interesting work on display that has received little treatment, is a giant man-made whirlpool located adjacent to the Grand Canal. Titled as Descension (2015), this synthetic whirlpool disrupts the tranquility and composure of the gardens, enticing viewers into this mesmerizing violent vortex.

However, the main attraction of the exhibition – both in sizing and press-coverage – is the enormous Dirty Corner (2011), located between the Grand Canal and the Palace. A vast steel funnel that rises from scattered stone, as if emerging and ripping up from the ground, Dirty Corner has become one of the main focal pieces of the exhibition. According to Kapoor, Dirty Corner symbolizes ‘the vagina of the queen who is taking power’, but which Queen is that exactly? Well, that is left up for debate. Evidently this work has been placed with much thought and deliberation, facing towards the Palace wherein the massive funnel opens towards the Chateau.

Controversy concerning Dirty Corner did not stop at the various symbolic meanings behind the work. The work came under fire of vandals who attacked the sculpture with yellow spray paint. Having come under scrutiny, Dirty Corner has caused some disapproval within different political parties of France. Kapoor recently stated that political violence and artistic violence are not the same, and therefore should not be treated with the same connotations. Whereas Kapoor’s artwork “follows a long tradition of regeneration” advancing “the language of art”, the use of vandalism in the name of politics merely “seeks erasure” with the “aim of the removal of the offending idea, person, practice or thing.” With the sculpture cleaned up, the mere act of vandalism serves to show for Kapoor that “simplistic political viewers are offended by the untidiness of art.”

However, I cannot but help think that this act of vandalism brings back those notions so ardently protested back in the wake of Charlie Hebdo – surely this was an act on freedom of expression?

Dirty Corner has certainly caused a stir in the art world, and within the life of the Palace of Versailles. The debate concerning the said ‘Queen’ who Dirty Corner represents is up for discussion. What is interesting is the dialogue in which Dirty Corner creates within the Palace and the surrounding gardens.

Notwithstanding all the different messages and interpretations produced by the sculptures, I really enjoyed walking around the grounds and seeing Kapoor’s sculptures on show. The interactive nature of the works invites viewers to engage with the sculptress, and create an interesting addition to the controlled environment of the Palace of Versailles. Whether you’re coming for a picnic in the gardens or to explore the Chateau itself, I definitely recommend wandering around the gardens to see these works for yourself. Don’t forget to ask yourself whether Dirty Corner is as controversial as the press makes out – I’d like to hear your thoughts on it.

The Anish Kapoor at the Palace of Versailles exhibition closes 1st November 2015.

You can find more information about the exhibition here on the Chateau de Versailles website.

 

Sky Mirror (2013), Anish Kapoor

C-Curve (2007), Anish Kapoor

Dirty Corner (2011), Anish Kapoor

Descension (2015), Anish Kapoor

Exploring the hidden gems of Paris: 3 day itinerary

Exploring the hidden gems of Paris: 3 day itinerary

Having been here in Paris for 9 months – where does the time fly?! – I thought it would be appropriate to share some of my favourite places that I think everyone should visit when coming to this magical city. Off the beaten track, the places listed here will no doubt provide you with delightful experiences and fantastic memories.

This blog post is based on my entry on a new-and-upcoming website, called Marco, where travellers like myself write about particular trips we’ve been on. There are so many great things about this website. For starters, you can find real inspiration from reading other people’s entries, and be fixated on stunning photographs posted. Without doubt, another great factor of the website is that when you enter the weekly competitions, you have the chance of winning $1000! Think of new amazing places that could take you to!

You can check out my entry here. If you could vote for me, that would be great – just click here to vote, and don’t forget to choose ‘Explore the hidden gems of Paris‘.

DAY 1

Les Jardins du Palais Royale, Paris

WANDER THE BEAUTIFUL JARDIN DU PALAIS ROYALE

Located a stone’s throw away from the infamous Louvre, Le Jardin du Palais Royale is hidden within the busy rush of the city. Here you can stroll around the beautiful garden, appreciating the symmetrically lined trees and colourful flowers; or you can sit and enjoy people watching from many of the various reclining chairs around the central fountain.

L'Arc de Triomphe at night, Paris

ASCEND L’ARC DE TRIOMPHE FOR STUNNING VIEWS OF THE CITY

Whilst the majority of guides will point you in the direction of the Eiffel Tower, I believe that you can get even better views of the city from the Arc de Triomphe. There’s no better time to go than at sunset and into twilight. It is from the Arc de Triomphe that my breath has been taken away with these exquisite views.

DAY 2

Canal Saint-Martin, Paris

SIT BY THE CANAL SAINT-MARTIN

Many people have never heard of the Canal Saint-Martin in Paris, and it is indeed another hidden gem of the city. Situated in the 10th and 11th arrondissements, the area surrounding the canal is super cool and hip. Parallel to the canal are a plethora of cute cafes and shops, and also a ton of vibrant street art work. Exploring this area of Paris will make you feel as if you have been transported to Amsterdam.

The Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

VISIT THE UNSURPASSABLE ROYAL CHAPEL, THE SAINTE-CHAPELLE

The Sainte-Chapelle is often overlooked by those coming to visit Paris. Built to house the sacred relics of the Crown of Thorns in 1248 under the patronage of King Louis IX (aka Saint Louis), for me the Sainte-Chapelle is one of the most beautiful places on earth. The upper chapel is surrounded by the most exquisite stained-glass, which one can look at for hours. In addition to visiting the chapel during the day, you can also attend various classical concerts in the evening – another must do.

DAY 3

The Promenade Plantée, Paris

 ESCAPE THE RUSH, AND STROLL ALONG THE PROMENADE PLANTÉE

The Promenade Plantée offers walkers an unparalleled and unique experience. Often off the beaten-track for tourists, the promenade provides visitors with expansive views of the city – you become one with the various buildings and architecture, yet remain a flâneur simultaneously. It is a surreal experience – hardly do you find a place within a capital city wherein you feel totally separated from the buzz and rush; but whilst uniquely being right in the middle of it.

If you can think of any other hidden gems of Paris that you would like to share, just let me know!

Once again, here is the link for voting – don’t forget to choose ‘Explore the hidden gems of Paris‘.

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

Exhibition Review: ‘David Bowie Is’, exposition Philharmonie de Paris

Exhibition Review: ‘David Bowie Is’, exposition Philharmonie de Paris

Back in 2013, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London hosted an extraordinary exhibition that offered a unique opportunity to delve into the wonderful career of one of music’s greatest legends – David Bowie.

From a personal perspective, I was beyond excited to find out that the V&A David Bowie Is exhibition would be making a stop in Paris for numerous reasons. When the retrospective first opened in London, I was unable to go and see it due to the rapid rate at which the exhibition sold out.

But for those who did not have the opportunity to see the V&A exhibition first hand, also had the chance to be able to ‘virtually visit’ the exhibit via one of the many showings of the exhibition at the cinema. I can probably imagine that you have absolutely no idea what I am talking about, but just hold on one second. Due to the sheer popularity of the exhibition, the V&A presented a live screening in the form of David Bowie is Happening Now, which was shown nationwide. Within this, cinemagoers had the chance to ‘walk’ through the exhibition with the curators, and watch behind the scene clips with extra archival footage and interviews being shown. My Mum and I bought tickets immediately, and finally had the chance to be a part of this fantastic retrospective. With this said, you can probably imagine how excited I was to hear that David Bowie Is was making a stop in Paris.

The exhibition begins with the emergence of Bowie as a musician, which then chronological traces his career and transformation. David Bowie Is is interactive and engaging. As visitors walk around the exhibition, moving in and out of the evolution of ‘Bowie’, the music changes in the headsets carried, and as one approaches the various screens throughout the exhibition showing video clips and interviews, the headset also changes. This exhibition is seamless. With a lot of ch-ch-ch-ch-changes – pun intended.

The David Bowie Is retrospective offers visitors a multi-dimensional experience, comprising of over 300 objects. The exhibition includes handwritten lyrics where one can see the processes and drafting of various songs – what is fascinating is seeing the different words and phrases crossed out, changes which certainly would have created very different songs than the ones we know. Also on display are photographs, music videos and album artwork.

Especially interesting are the various sixty original iconic stage costumes on show, including Ziggy Stardust bodysuits (1972), and Alexander McQueen’s Union Jack coat designed for the Earthling album cover (1997). Displayed as if Bowie himself was wearing them, viewing these famous costumes in person is an incredible experience.

Something that really stuck with me after visiting, was finding out that Bowie is actually a really good painter (which may not surprise some of you). I had never really known about this side of the singer, and so it was refreshing to be able to view some of his own artwork on display within the exhibition. Not only was Bowie’s creative side shown in his artwork, but throughout the retrospective his own drawings and illustrations for various music videos, films and even sketches of stage designs for the Ziggy Stardust tour, are on show.

David Bowie Is is not only about the physical manifestation of Bowie’s various personas, but it also offers a glimpse into the process of writing songs and creating lyrics. What I found thought-provoking was Bowie’s contraption called the Verbasizer. A computer application, the Verbasizer brought together different verbs and words that Bowie claimed helped with the process of lyric writing. Having read a lot of critical views regarding this specific part of the exhibition, and indeed Bowie’s creative past, this computer programme is an interesting addition to the enigmatic character of Bowie. Whether you agree or disagree with such method is up to further debate. (You can read a bit more about it here: http://www.hypebot.com/hypebot/2013/03/ty-roberts-on-the-trail-from-working-with-david-bowie-to-co-founding-gracenote.html)

As one explores the visually stunning and incredible exhibition, the finale brings you into a room surrounded by projections of Bowie with various videos from stage performances. It is almost like being physically at these concerts. (For those unlike my parents who have seen Bowie in concert live, this is the perfect opportunity to imagine what it must have been like.)

Overall, David Bowie Is offers an incredible multi-media and multi-sensory experience, providing a glimpse into the complex artistic and creative transformation of David Bowie. Bowie die-hards and enthusiasts, as well as those on the lesser scale, will undoubtedly enjoy this exhibition.

Venue: Philharmonie de Paris.

Dates: 2nd March – 31st May 2015.

Websitehttp://davidbowieis.philharmoniedeparis.fr

(Photo from Deutsche Welle)
(Photograph taken from the Guardian)

‘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.