FIAC (International Contemporary Art Fair), which closed its doors on Sunday evening, was characterised by exceptional presentations of major artworks from the modern and contemporary periods, as well as the discovery of many promising talents among artists of the emerging scene.
Extremely well attended by private collectors and institutions from across the world, and art lovers from all walks of life, FIAC recorded 74 580 admissions in 5 days, representing a 2.87% increase compared to 2018.
Visitors came from diverse regions: Africa (Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Senegal), North America, Latin America (Brazil, Mexico, Colombia), Asia (China, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia), Oceania, Europe, and the Middle East (Iran, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates). Many of them were visiting FIAC for the first time.
Among the institutions that attended: Fondation Jumex (Mexico), MACBA (Buenos Aires), Nucleo MAM (Sao Paulo), MAMBO (Bogota), King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture (Dhahran), MACAN (Jakarta), Pejman Foundation (Teheran), Yuz Museum (Shanghai), New Museum (New York), Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (New York), Fondation Calder (New York), Hirschhorn Museum (Washington), Dallas Contemporary (Dallas), Nasher Sculpture Center (Dallas), le MOCA (Los Angeles), LACMA (Los Angeles), Hammer Museum (Los Angeles), Tate Modern (London), Serpentine Galleries (London), Courtauld Institute (London), Whitechapel (London), Tate Liverpool (Liverpool), Fondation Serralves (Lisbon), Fondation Beyeler (Basel), MAMCO (Genève), Kunsthalle Zurich (Zurich), MUMOK (Vienna),
Warsaw, MAXXI (Rome), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Palais de Tokyo (Paris), Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (Paris), Fondation Cartier (Paris), Fondation Vuitton (Pariss).
FIAC Projects presented some thirty sculptures and installations, within the prestigious setting of the Petit Palais and on the Avenue Winston Churchill, pedestrianised during FIAC week. Here are some of the highlights:
Julien Creuzet was born in 1986 in Blanc-Mesnil in the region of Paris. This sculpture is an allegory of a landscape from a fantasized Caribbean: an upside down banana field portrayed in acidulous colours. This work was inspired by an environmental disaster; the contamination of the land, rivers, and groundwater of Martinique and Guadeloupe by kepone, a pesticide used from 1972 to 1993 to eradicate the banana weevil. The title of this sculpture is the lyrics of a song, written for the occasion and set to a lively, upbeat Afro-pop score, an allusion to the cultures of the Caribbean combining festivity and melancholy. The music gave rise to the creation of an animated film: a journey into the bosom of the banana tree, revealing the vestiges of a colonial system.
Pierre Alechinsky was born in 1927 in Brussels. In 1974, he realized a monumental Indian ink painting on vellum paper mounted on canvas, designed for the ceiling of a collector’s home, in a format that he had never used before: 277 x 650 cm. The commission did not eventuate. A recipient of the Andrew W. Mellon Prize in 1976, he decided to present this grand nocturnal painting in the monographic exhibition devoted to his work at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. It was one of the masterworks the exhibition. In 1996, he added a border, painted in acrylic, on all four sides, giving it a new luminosity and expanding the format to its present dimensions: 337 x 710 cm. He renamed it Les Grands fonds [Deep Sea]. Exhibited for the first time in France, it is the largest painting ever created by the artist.
Nina Beier was born in 1975 in Aarhus, Denmark. She lives and works in Berlin, Germany. In Nina Beier’s series Plug, bathroom sinks are stuffed with cigars that have been hand-rolled to fit perfectly and suggestively into their drain pipe openings. These sculptural arrangements consider the cigar simultaneously as a handmade object, a historically traded merchandise and a symbol of power. They exist somewhere between an object, its representation, and our interpretation of it.
Born in 1937 in Sweden, Erik Dietman died in 2002 in Paris. Concerning Proverbe Turc [Turkish Proverb], he said that he had drifted off into a dream about a Turkish legend. According to this legend, the act of finding one’s shoes with lit candles displayed inside them meant that an individual would be undesirable - none of this could ever be verified. Erik Dietman mainly used his own shoes; he felt at home everywhere and nowhere. While he chose to live in France rather than in Sweden, he was nevertheless always dreaming of an elsewhere. This “monomentale” work was presented for the first time in Sweden in 1998 with the artist’s real shoes.
GENERAL IDEA, formed by AA Bronson, Felix Partz and Jorge Zontal in 1969 worked together as a group until the death of two of the founding members in 1994. During the 1980s and 1990s, when the subject of HIV/AIDS was very much taboo in wider society, GENERAL IDEA, were at the vanguard of an activist art movement that addressed the subject directly. The resultant body of work became a crucial aspect of their output for the rest of their career. Their AIDS and Imagevirus works are an appropriation and subversion of Robert Indiana’s 1966 work LOVE, substituting the letters L-O-V-E with A-I- D-S. Through diverse forms of expression, works by General Idea reflect many different aspects of social and media critique that continue to have relevance today.
Emeka Ogboh was born in 1977 in Enugu, Nigeria. He lives and works between Berlin and Lagos. Suffered Original is a craft beer project inspired by the food tastes and experiences of Africans living in Europe. Through the brewing and branding of the beer, it reveals certain popular beliefs and stereotypes related to the politics of difference and integration associated with their condition as expatriates. He uses the codes of commercial advertising photography to explore the experiences of African migrants in France channeling labels and clichés into creating a beer advertisement that re ects their condition. The artist presents Sufferhead Paris, combining craft beer, food (with a specially designed menu imagined by the chef Malonga), music, billboards and photographs.
Gateano Pesce was born in 1939, in La Spezia, Italy. His multidisciplinary and humanistic practice is characterized by an inventive use of color and materials, asserting connections between the individual and society. He was one of the first to break down the barriers between art, architecture and design, creating a universe of objects that became true icons of creativity. “The title of this work indicates that this piece refers to Palladio’s life. He was the son of a carpenter and a washer woman, and their house - which still exists - stands along a canal near the Via XX Settembre in Padua. The running water in front of the house enabled his mother to make a living from washing clothes. I imagine that such garments would have been multi-hued and lled with the energy inherent in color. They were a daily presence in the life of the future architect, but curiously, he never explored the resources of colored materials. (...) This bookshelf-portrait pays homage to him on the upcoming 500th anniversary of his birth and to the absence of color in his work. On the back, there is a tribute to his mother and an evocation of the color of water, foam and soap bubbles.” Gaetano Pesce.
Javier Pérez was born in 1968 in Bilbao. He lives and works in Barcelona. Everything in his work appears to question the ambiguity of forms immersed in a perpetual and fantastical transformation, fluctuating between plant, animal, and human. A surprising sentiment grows in the spectator contemplating Vida latente. This bronze sculpture takes the form of an uprooted tree. Death is evoked; each limb is torn off, and the charred and cracked bark has become as hard as stone. Yet life re-emerges, radiant, in the form of hearts at the end of branches. The flecks of gold decorating them accentuate the contrast between the living and the inert.
Born in 1951 in Brazil, Saint Clair Cemin lives and works in Beijing, Paris and New York. « For many years I had a studio in Beijing where I made my Guanxi series. In Chinese “guanxi” means “personal connections” and loosely translates as “circles of friendly and business relationships” or “social networks”. Although the term is intrinsically linked to Chinese culture, the concept of “guanxi” is universal. Guanxi IV is composed of 24 stainless steel gures organized in eight clusters of three interlaced forms. The resulting three-dimensional shape is akin to an octahedron, a Platonic solid, to use mathematical jargon. The work, with its smooth and reflective surface, is anthropomorphic and the 24 components bear some resemblance to newborns. Guanxi IV evokes the community spirit, mutual help and support systems which arise within groups of people. It also alludes to a general sense of solidarity and interdependence between individuals. » - Saint Clair Cemin.
Abraham Poincheval was born in 1972 in Alençon in France. He lives and works in Marseille. This work is the cristallisation of a wandering knight of the twenty- first century, a journey after a battle, lost or won. His journey is endless, crossing numerous territories and combining various stories. This knight’s coats of arms could be those of art, even if they are not visible on his armour. This protection, designed as a shell, is at the same time a vehicle, a portable living space, and a premonition of robotisation. It magnifies the body but also hides it, in perfect symbiosis with the landscapes traversed on his travels.
Cameron Platter was born in 1978 in Johannesburg, South Africa. He lives and works in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Capetown, South Africa. His totem sculptures, assembled from carved wooden facsimiles of ubiquitous, every day, mass-produced objects (cinderblocks, chairs, trashcans, tires, fridges, toilets, loungers, etc.) are three-dimensional and metaphorical monuments, collages, and critiques of those very objects and of their broader aesthetic, cultural, societal, and functional signi cances. He reconceptualizes the fringes of South African’s popular culture, bringing powerful sociopolitical themes to the fore through a deceptively simple visual language. The artist mines everyday subjects in order to incite new meanings amongst issues considered marginal. Platter’s works embody a philosophical way of living and thinking, as a meditation on detritus, consumers, and morality, all channeled into a constellation that examines contemporary excess.
Richard Jackson was born in 1939 in Sacramento (California, USA). He lives and works in Los Angeles. His work in Car Wash Project is based on the process of transformation. This is an experimental artwork in which a Fiat 500 is transformed into a work of art. Richard Jackson equipped a car wash with metal spikes and rotating metal balls, which, once activated, do not clean the car but instead attack and destroy the vehicle. In a final phase, hoses and tubes are deployed, provoking sprays of paint in red, yellow, and blue, thus drenching the white bodywork and surrounds of the work with multi-coloured splashes. This unpredictable performance is a “destruction as creation”. By destroying and modifying the appearance of the car, the artist takes aim at the most emblematic materialistic products of modernity and questions the values of our consumerist society.
Kiki Smith was born in 1954 in Nuremberg (Germany). She lives and works in New York. One of the characteristics of Kiki Smith’s work is the representation of the human body, more specifically the female body, sometimes shown from a disturbing angle, altered or fragmented and often inspired by notable gures of literature or mythology. Standing Nude represents an unclothed young woman. Child-sized, she emanates a kind of innocence, but her bodily forms are assuredly those of an adult. Her arms are slightly spread with her palms open, outstretched towards owers arranged near the work, which the artist considers as poetic fountains. A major retrospective of Kiki Smith takes place simultaneously at La Monnaie in Paris (October 2019 - January 2020).