Lillian Davies

  • Simon Martin, Comme une statue sur une île déserte, 2023, oil and acrylic on canvas, 76 3/4 x 44 7/8". Photo: Gregory Copitet.
    picks April 24, 2023

    Simon Martin

    As Paris emerged from lockdown in late spring 2020, hollyhocks bloomed across the city in pinks, blues, and whites as sun-bleached and delicate as Simon Martin’s palette for “Ce qui dort sous les petals” (Those Who Sleep Under the Petals), his second solo show at Jousse Enterprise. In the first room of the gallery, a pair of canvases, Des roses ont poussé dans les joints du carrelage I and II (Hollyhocks Have Come Up Between the Tiles, all works 2023) hang opposite each other, both rendering the tenacious wildflower as tall as a man. Martin conjures a dreamlike landscape, which he anchors to

  • Djamel Tatah, Untitled, 2020, oil and wax on canvas, 78 3⁄4 × 98 3⁄8".

    Djamel Tatah

    Djamel Tatah confronted visitors to his recent show with an image of the aftermath of violence. Rendered at human scale, Tatah’s subject in this large-scale oil-and-wax painting (Untitled, 2020) would have stood as tall as a grown man, but, like Manet’s The Dead Toreador, 1864, he lies fallen. The Matisse-like outline that delineates the figure pulses against the background: two matte fields, one of midnight blue and one of crimson. The composition is a testament to human tragedy and a pointed question for the onlooker: What do you do in those wide fields of color the artist leaves otherwise

  • View of “The Trapped Lullabies,” 2023. Photo: Aurélien Mole.
    picks February 19, 2023

    Tirdad Hashemi

    A sense of intimate, brutal absurdity suffuses Tirdad Hashemi’s recent work, much of it made following the killing of Mahsa Amini last September in the artist’s native Iran and the subsequent eruption of ongoing protest against the country’s theocratic government. Titled after a nursery rhyme from Hashemi’s childhood that is sung when mourning a loved one, her exhibition “The Trapped Lullabies” is flooded with the hypnotic sounds of Nacer Ahmadi’s synths and a voice-over of Hashemi reading a poetic incantation by Ali Farid. A rusted detention-center bed and a pile of burned clothes complete a

  • Ad Minoliti, Mesa 3, 2022, acrylic and ink on canvas, 31 1⁄2 × 31 1⁄2". From the series “Mesas,” 2022–.

    Ad Minoliti

    Growing up, Ad Minoliti dreamed of becoming an architect; today, the artist’s stencil-sharp, high-key color abstractions and plush installations consider how childhood is collectively built. As pioneering pediatrician and psychoanalyst D. W. Winnicott theorized almost a century ago, play is how children construct and shift boundaries between illusion and reality. As they slip in and out of fantasy through play, a differentiation between two and three dimensions dissolves, making these early stages of development a rich terrain to explore in painting and installation. Minoliti used both of the

  • View of “Allora & Calzadilla,” 2022. Photo: Martin Argyroglo.

    Allora & Calzadilla

    During the fifteenth-century age of exploration, European sailors believed in a mythic island called “Antillia,” rumored to be somewhere in the Atlantic, just beyond the edge of existing maps. Conjuring this terra incognita, Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla’s exhibition “Antille” examined the transatlantic ties that inspired French Surrealists. The installation Graft, 2021, blanketed the gallery floor with thousands of handpainted flowers, cast from recycled polyvinyl and modeled after the blooms of roble trees. Their pale crepuscular pink struck a sharp contrast to the high-noon yellow

  • Madeleine Roger-Lacan, Baûbo – mon sexe est mon coeur (Baûbo – my sex is my heart), 2022, oil and lacquer on canvas, 82 1/2 x 39".
    picks May 18, 2022

    “Between your eyes and the images I see (a sentimental choice)”

    Nine drooping tulips, languidly rendered by Elené Shatberashvili in Flowers, 2021–22, announce the nine young artists gathered here. All oil painters and recent graduates of Paris’s Beaux-Arts, this circle of friends shares a concern for living bodies and the landscapes, mythologies, and late-night clubs they move through. Each artist is represented by a single work in addition to a small curiosity cabinet filled with sketchbooks and reference materials, providing a peek inside the emerging ateliers of Paris.
    Madeleine Roger-Lacan’s teardrop-shaped canvas, Baûbo – mon sexe est mon coeur (Baûbo

  • Judit Reigl, Corps au pluriel (Body in Plural), 1991, mixed media, 74 3⁄4 × 74 3⁄4". From the series “Corps au pluriel,” 1990–92.

    Judit Reigl

    I asked a young painter to join me on my first visit to this survey of five decades of Judit Reigl’s work. Though my friend’s art jumps between figuration and blankets of monochrome color, she was surprised that the large gestural canvases hung in the street-facing space of Kamel Mennour’s newest gallery had been made by the same artist as the series of small abstractions that lined a long hallway and the large, cleanly figurative compositions presented in two white rooms at the very end. This sense of surprise is common in encounters with Reigl’s work.

    In telling the story of her escape from

  • Hoda Kashiha, “In appreciation of Blinking,” 2021, mixed media, dimensions variable. Installation view. Photo: Aurélien Mole.
    picks March 30, 2022

    Hoda Kashiha

    Hoda Kashiha’s first institutional exhibition in Europe takes its name from her recent series “I’m Here, I’m Not Here,” 2020–21. Developed across four canvases, the work repeats a motif pulled from an American postcard: a cartoonish rendition of a blonde girl in a pink top holding a daisy. The artist depicts the full figure just once. With each repetition, she obscures the appropriated form with swatches of red and black vinyl, ultimately draining it of all color in a cut-out version in white on white.

    At the heart of this show is “In appreciation of Blinking,” 2021: eight large-scale paintings

  • View of “Resurgent Light: Juana Francés & Maria Helena Vieira da Silva,” 2022.
    picks March 24, 2022

    Maria Helena Vieira da Silva and Juana Francés

    The two painters in “Resurgent Light” may have never met, but they were both living in Paris in the early 1950s. Maria Helena Vieira da Silva (1908-1992) had arrived there from Lisbon in 1928 to study at the Académie de la Grande Chaumiere, ultimately making her home in the French capital as a political exile. In 1951, Juana Francés (1924-1990), who would later become the only female founding member of the Spanish avant-garde group El Paso, traveled to Paris for one year on scholarship from the French government. For both artists, Paris was a place of refuge from the dictatorships that ruled

  • Christine Safa, Le lac de deux visages (The Lake of Two Faces), 2021, oil on canvas, 76 3⁄4 × 67 3⁄8".

    Christine Safa

    On fourteen linen canvases, some stretched as wide as a picture window, others small enough to slip into the palm of your hand, Christine Safa had painted landscape and figurative imagery. Dreamlike in their disorienting oscillations of scale and approach, Safa’s compositions are ones in which a mountain can become a forehead, the crook of a shoulder a valley, a shadow the sea. Her works are titled with lines from her poems or from things she’s read, the proximity of word and image echoing the intimacy she creates between geography and the human figure.

    In Safa’s poetry and canvases, the catalyst

  • Toyen, Le devenir de la liberté (The Future of Freedom), 1946, oil on canvas, 65 × 25 5⁄8". From “Face à Arcimboldo” (Arcimboldo Face to Face).

    “Face à Arcimboldo”

    The face was material for Giuseppe Arcimboldo (1526–1593). He molded it—with a singularity of style and those tiny careful brushstrokes in oil—into allegories, bouquets, and arrangements of leather-bound books. Among the many charming examples of the Hapsburg court painter’s work in “Face à Arcimboldo” (Arcimboldo Face to Face)—an exhibition conceived in a dialogue between Maurizio Cattelan and Chiara Parisi, the latter of whom is director of Centre Pompidou-Metz and cocurator of the exhibition with Anne Horvath—was a copy of his lost original, La bibliothécaire (The Librarian), ca. 1566. The

  • Louise Bonnet, Floating Gorgon, 2021, oil on canvas, 6' x 10' 1/8''.
    picks October 18, 2021

    Louise Bonnet

    For “Bathers,” her first solo exhibition in France, Louise Bonnet has unveiled seven new paintings in oil. In lieu of the breast milk that features in some of her recent work, water, rendered across calm surfaces of deep green and pale turquoise, appears in every canvas, transporting Bonnet’s compositions to the realm of classical myth.

    Bonnet’s primary reference here is Rubens, especially the pink and blue tones of his robust seventeenth-century nudes, but she’s also a practiced hand at illustration and a longtime fan of E. C. Segar’s Popeye. Once a Depression-era boon to spinach farmers, the