Lillian Davies

  • picks August 12, 2021

    Merlin Carpenter

    Industrial farmlands line this stretch of heavily traveled highway, a key artery in the European supply chain where a former synagogue, built, famously, at the height of the Dreyfus affair, sits quietly next to the village’s town hall. Lacking a congregation, the space was repurposed as an exhibition hall in 1993, becoming a site of art-world pilgrimage. Out front, Merlin Carpenter has parked a brand-new, bright-red forklift and positioned its metal risers as if to hook on to the temple’s arches and pull the structure right out of the ground. The gesture is playful, if not aggressive in its

  • Laure Provost, Swallow, 2013, HD video, color, sound, 2 minutes 6 seconds.
    picks July 20, 2021

    “When our eyes touch”

    “When our eyes touch,” Jacques Derrida mused, “the question will always be whether they are stroking or striking each other.” This quote supplies the title for the first in a series of exhibitions curated by Satu Herrala and Hans Rosenström titled “A I S T I T,” meaning “senses” in their native Finnish. Needless to say, the Covid pandemic, which began shortly after this project was in motion, has thoroughly upended our relationship with this primary sense.

    Inside Louis Carré’s former residence, built by Alvar Aalto in 1959 on a hillside property in a bucolic village not far from Paris, visitors

  • View of Laurent Grasso’s ARTIFICIALIS, 2020, film HR, color, sound, 27 minutes 33 seconds. Photo: Claire Dorn.
    picks June 25, 2021

    Laurent Grasso

    Expansive, ethereal music by Warren Ellis floods the Orsay nave, flowingly accompanying the sharp, brilliantly colored frames of Laurent Grasso’s latest digital film, ARTIFICIALIS, 2021. “Like a painting in motion,” the artist’s “image machine” makes use of an LED screen more than 30 feet wide that has been mounted above the centuries of bronze and marble sculpture filling the museum’s grand hall, a former railway terminus. “I had the idea to re-enchant the nave,” museum president Laurence des Cars explained of the Orsay’s decision to “graft” Grasso’s project onto “The Origins of the World: The

  • Taysir Batniji, Tempête (Storm), 1998/2021, diptych, acrylic on canvas on wall, each 82 5⁄8 × 42 1⁄4". Photo: Aurélien Mole.

    Taysir Batniji

    Though Taysir Batniji began as a painter, training at An-Najah National University in Nablus, Palestine, most of his early works on canvas here flout the medium’s conventions: They are rolled up and bound with tape—no “picture” is visible—and emblazoned in red with the word INFLAMMABLE, a term shared by the English and French languages, rising from the Latin flamma. Breaking with figurative painting soon after his arrival in France as a student in 1994, Batniji turned to Conceptual experiments, as in Tempête (Storm), 1998/2021, a yellow monochrome diptych on canvas that peels away from the wall,

  • Florian and Michael Quistrebert, Waterfall, 2020, sprayed ink on burlap, 78 3⁄4 × 118 1⁄8".

    Florian and Michael Quistrebert

    In the closing scene of Lars von Trier’s Melancholia (2011), sisters Justine and Claire (Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg) sit inside a flimsy hut of leaning sticks with Claire’s young son. They’re taking shelter, they’ve told the boy, inside a “magic cave.” Wagner’s prelude to Tristan and Isolde crescendos as light from Melancholia, an approaching planet on course to destroy planet Earth, blazes behind them. Appropriating the title of Von Trier’s film for their latest exhibition, Florian and Michael Quistrebert used Melancholia as a “pretext to explore the psychological tension between

  • Xinyi Cheng, Stijn in the Red Bonnet, 2020, oil on canvas, 45 x 57".
    interviews March 05, 2021

    Xinyi Cheng

    Xinyi Cheng, winner of the 2019 Baloise Art Prize, painted much of what is currently on view at Berlin’s Hamburger Banhof last spring, during France’s first Covid-induced lockdown. Her intimate-yet-detached gaze, previously applied to male figures in ambiguous encounters, is here trained on moments of solitude among men, women, and animals. The Horse with Eye Blinders—an enigmatic double portrait of a chestnut mare clad in red cap, ear hoods, and blinders and a young man with his arms folded across his bare chest—gives this exhibition its title. Born in Wuhan and raised in Beijing, Cheng is now

  • View of “Gaëlle Choisne: 999,” 2021.
    picks February 26, 2021

    Gaëlle Choisne

    Gaëlle Choisne’s exhibition—her first at this gallery named for its production of artists’ editions—feels at home here, as her work consistently addresses porous boundaries between original and copy, precious and poor, loved and destroyed. The sculpture To love is to give what we don’t have to someone who doesn’t want it. For each definitive and lasting return, 2018, takes center stage, resembling a cauldron or a wastebasket or a once-gleaming pot charred by a sudden blast. Choisne’s fingerprints and the pressure of her hands are apparent in black enameled ceramic she’s ornamented with cigarette

  • Rirkrit Tiravanija, untitled 2020 (the odious smell of truth) (three flags, 1958), 2020, marble, 30 5/8 × 45 1/2 × 2 1/2".

    Rirkrit Tiravanija

    By the time Rirkrit Tiravanija moved to New York in 1982, Jasper Johns had been making his flag paintings for almost thirty years. For his new tapestries and marble works, Tiravanija has copied the elder artist’s maps and flags. Tiravanija produced his tapestries on the historic French looms of Pinton, manufacturers of works by such twentieth-century heavyweights as Calder and Picasso; his marble comes from the same veins of Carrara that supplied Michelangelo.

    While Tiravanija gained visibility in the 1990s for modest installations that privileged socializing and shared meals—essential rituals

  • Miryam Haddad, La moisson de l’aube (Harvest of Dawn), 2020, oil on canvas, 10 1/4 x 7 7/8".
    picks October 02, 2020

    Miryam Haddad

    Miryam Haddad invokes the Phoenician god of chaos and storms in “La complainte de Yam,” her second exhibition at this gallery, where new works in watercolor and oil draw on symbols associated with Poseidon’s predecessor, Yam, whose name rose from the Canaanite word for “sea.” During lockdown, Haddad, unable to access her studio, achieved “creativity out of crisis,” to borrow from literary theorist Evelyne Grossman’s latest thesis, channeling the turbulence of her large-scale oil paintings onto smaller watercolors on Japanese paper.

    The fourteen aquarelles shown here, part of Haddad’s series “La

  • Alia Farid, At the Time of the Ebb, 2019, 4K video, color, sound, 15 minutes 43 seconds.

    Alia Farid

    For her second exhibition at Galerie Imane Farès, Alia Farid applied tinted vinyl to the gallery’s glass-front facade to cast its interior in pink light. The rosy atmosphere, like that of an equatorial crepuscule—and in sharp contrast to the gray Rive Gauche streetscape outside—surrounded her video installation Maske Paske Wi, 2020. The title is Haitian Creole for “Perform Because Why Not.” Originally commissioned for Rotterdam’s Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, the film was shot in Port-au-Prince this past winter, where Farid worked with local residents to realize and record the

  • Madeleine Roger-Lacan, Une Maman, 2020, oil and pastel on canvas and oilcloth, 63 × 47 1/5".
    picks August 14, 2020

    Léo Chesneau and Madeleine Roger-Lacan

    When Milton Bradley Company launched Twister in 1966, some competitors called it “sex in a box.” Intended for two players or more, the game turns human bodies into play pieces, torqueing them on a plastic mat the size of an Ab-Ex canvas. If this exhibition is a game board, as its title—“Twister”—suggests, paintings by two “players,” Madeleine Roger-Lacan and Léo Chesneau, both recent graduates of Paris’s École des Beaux Arts, are acrobatically entangled.

    Chesneau’s seven paintings (all Untitled, 2020), built in layers of heated toner ink on wood, supply a linear rhythm. Rich, saturated colors,

  • View of Eliza Douglas, 2020, Air de Paris, Paris. Both Untitled, 2020.
    picks July 13, 2020

    Eliza Douglas

    Eliza Douglas’s twelve stretched canvases—all Untitled, 2020, and about eighty-three by sixty-three inches, an echo of the traditional photographic 4:3 ratio—hang from the gallery’s ceiling on thick steel chains. Working from pictures she captures with an iPhone of rumpled graphic T-shirts in her wardrobe, Douglas creates hyperrealistic images in oil on canvas. The printed textiles she appropriates bear illustrations of NASCAR drivers, zombies, Sailor Moon, and other pop-cultural references. In one work, a tiny two-holed button, striking in its simplicity, slips from round plastic object to