Lillian Davies

  • diary October 01, 2009

    Home Grown

    Toulouse, France

    A FIRM REJOINDER to charges of the French art scene’s insularity, the nineteenth annual Printemps de Septembre has thoroughly taken over the city of Toulouse. This year’s expansive edition, headed for the second (and last) time by MAMCO director Christian Bernard, occupies more than thirty venues across four other additional towns. What Printemps organizer Jean-Max Colard described as “a small, local affair” that (until two years ago) involved just eight or nine venues is now a full-blown cosmopolitan project.

    Bernard used poetic language to introduce his “festival of exhibitions” to a crowd of

  • picks October 01, 2009

    Meredyth Sparks

    Referencing the work of Kazimir Malevich in much the same way she previously sampled images of 1970s cultural icons, Meredyth Sparks, in her latest exhibition, “Everything We Have Loved Is Lost,” continues to pursue the gaps between the original and its repetition. For “Extraction,” 2009, a series of colorful, sparkling works, Sparks uses glitter, aluminum foil, and digital scans of these materials to create geometric surfaces alive with light and texture. In one work, the artist has attached her reference image––a gathering of women wearing short white dresses––to the bottom corner of the large

  • Aurélien Froment

    Using a system of visual and linguistic associations, magician Benoît Rosemont dazzles spectators with illusion and feats of memory. Aurélien Froment has performed with Rosemont, participating in his magic act, and for this exhibition, the artist channeled the magician’s mnemonic strategies and spectacles. Froment’s Les Paravents (The Folding Screens; all works 2009), made of wood covered in raw linen, formed the show’s physical and conceptual backdrop. Devoid of pigment and, apart from one color photograph, imageless, three of the folding screen’s panels are fixed within the structure’s metal

  • diary September 11, 2009

    Belleville Rendezvous

    Paris

    TAKING LINE 2 of the Paris metro east to Belleville Wednesday afternoon, I started my tour of the galleries in the popular nineteenth and twentieth arrondissements with a visit to Suzanne Tarasiève’s Loft 19. Tarasiève chose to open her second space in Belleville “because the area is so international.” “A living space,” as she describes it, Loft 19 consists of a gallery, a library, two artists’ residences, and Tarasieve’s own apartment. Ukrainian artist Boris Mikhailov was lounging on one of the sofas, discussing his series “Yesterday’s Sandwich”: layered photographs of street scenes, nudes,

  • Sarkis

    This fall, the Istanbul Modern will give its entire building, including the cinema and the library, to the expatriate Conceptualist’s first Turkish retrospective.

    Born in Istanbul to Armenian parents in 1938, Sarkis Zabunyan relocated to Paris at the age of twenty-six, dropped his surname, and was soon included in Harald Szeemann’s seminal 1969 exhibition, “When Attitudes Become Form.” This fall, the Istanbul Modern will give its entire building, including the cinema and the library, to the expatriate Conceptualist’s first Turkish retrospective. Spanning nearly half a century of painting, drawing, sculpture, installation, photography, audio, and video, this show of twenty-five works will feature a new site-specific neon installation

  • picks July 13, 2009

    “Boule to Braid”

    Aligning the philatelic pursuits of his childhood with the penchant of art institutions to hoard contemporary works, Richard Wentworth’s exhibition at Lisson Gallery is an overflowing archive of works from the gallery’s artists, the personal collection of its founder, Nicholas Logsdail, as well as Wentworth’s students past and present. The show requires both the gallery’s spaces on Bell Street, including stairwells and offices, and has grown even since it opened––two works by the London-based painter Jeff McMillan (Perla, 2003, and Prop, 2008) have just found their place within Wentworth’s hang.

  • picks July 10, 2009

    “We Would Like to Thank (Again) the Curators Who Wish to Remain Anonymous”

    The product of a curatorial exercise that should be tackled by all aspiring students in the field, this exhibition begins with a premise of anonymity. An unnamed curator kicked off the process by choosing a work—in this case, Bethan Huws’s word vitrine Untitled (Quoi de neuf?) (What’s New?), 2008—as well as the next curator in the sequence. That curator then chose a work based on the previous selection, as well as another curator to follow in the chain, and so on, until twelve works were selected. In addition to those works, Sarah Tritz’s Installation, 2009, provides a backdrop for the anonymous

  • picks June 24, 2009

    Jonathan Monk

    In his exhibition “Rew-Shay Hood Project Part II,” conceptual jester Jonathan Monk riffs on the phonetic spelling of one of the art world’s biggest names––Ed Ruscha––while popularizing images from the elder artist’s first book, Twentysix Gasoline Stations (originally published in 1963). Onto the hoods of classic American cars, including a 1969 Ford Mustang and a 1968 Pontiac GTO, Monk has airbrushed images of the gas stations that Ruscha photographed along Route 66, between his hometown of Oklahoma City and Los Angeles. Presented at Artpace, formerly a Hudson automobile dealership, in the midst

  • Dominique Petitgand

    Each of Dominique Petitgand’s sound installations begins with a drawing, a simple sketch in pen on paper that maps the placement of speakers and the space within which the visitor will experience the work. Although these rudimentary plans are never exhibited, they provide insight into Petitgand’s construction of the listener’s experience within a given situation. Describing his works as “filled with silence,” Petitgand seems most interested in the interstitial spaces between quiet and noise, the raw voice and the articulation of words—he focuses on the art of listening rather than simply the

  • Laurent Montaron

    Laurent Montaron expands the cinematic space of his films into the real space of the gallery, treating light and sound as malleable physical materials. His audio installation Untitled (D’Après la Sonosphère d’Elipson) (After the Sonosphere of Elipson), 2006, a six-track recording of the string section of the Orchestre du Capitole de Toulouse tuning their instruments to the sine wave of a telephone dial tone, pours from a dodecahedral speaker suspended from the middle of the ceiling. A ten-minute recording continually loops, filling the space as if to model its contours with pulsing sound waves.

  • picks April 27, 2009

    Victor Man

    For his first solo exhibition in France, Victor Man presents collages, drawings, sculptures, and installations––but only one large oil painting––that reveal the breadth of the work he has made over the past twenty-five years. The Romanian artist, based in Cluj, references his nation’s history in this exhibition, particularly in works such as Mihai Viteazu (Brave Mihai), 2006, which depicts a comic strip he drew as a child, enlarged and reproduced as wallpaper here along one wall of the main gallery. Battle scenes and a castle siege repeat, like a nightmarish frieze pattern, heightening drama

  • picks April 13, 2009

    Elizabeth McAlpine

    Drawing the title of her exhibition from Edwin A. Abbott’s novel Flatland, originally published in 1884, Elizabeth McAlpine evokes the author’s romantic narrative regarding the hierarchy of spatial dimensions, a metaphor for the British social system. In the vein of structuralist films of the 1960s and ’70s, such as those by Paul Sharits, McAlpine’s work privileges the materiality of the medium—creating a poetic dualism between permanence and fragility. For Tilt (in 6 parts) (all works 2009), McAlpine stacks six 8-mm film projectors within a steel tower, while a single reel of Super 8 film on

  • picks April 09, 2009

    Alison Moffett

    In “Grey,” Alison Moffett expands the study of architecture and space that begins in her precise graphite drawings. Her subtle intrusions into the third dimension—through a collaged second layer in her large-scale works in pencil on paper—now exist alongside translations of her precisely and delicately rendered structures into objects with considerable volume and mass and compose her first exhibited group of sculptures, which have been realized in collaboration with Chris Cornish. Nonetheless, Moffett’s drawing practice remains at the core of the work. The show opens with Quarantine, 2008, and

  • diary February 12, 2009

    Swap Meet

    Paris

    “GIVEN THAT BERLIN is considered the center of the art community—all galleries, all artists, want to go there—I wanted to show that there’s also this interest in Paris.” French curator Cédric Aurelle, coordinator of a recent Berlin-Paris gallery exchange, took a tough position in the grand top-floor reception hall of the French Ministry of Culture early Friday afternoon. Christine Albanel, Nicolas Sarkozy’s culture minister, was kicking off the Paris leg of the project, delivering a short speech about the “construction of a European culture through opportunities of mutual discovery.” Fleeing as

  • picks February 06, 2009

    Ludivine Caillard

    Pursuing physical and superficial matters of color, material, and the beauty industry, French artist Ludivine Caillard makes drawings, collages, sculptures, and videos rich with texture and ripe with unapologetically intimate innuendo. Caillard’s 36 Drawings, from the series “112 Drawings,” 2002–2004, introduces her playful range of visual references and foresees the bright palette in her recent sculptures. Installed on an adjacent wall, 11 Collages, 2001–2008, emphasizes Caillard’s sarcastic method of pairing advertising slogans clipped from women’s magazines with her own responses in blue

  • Yann Sérandour

    In his 1967 essay “The Death of the Author,” Roland Barthes famously asserts that “the writer can only imitate a gesture forever anterior, never original.” The same year, Italo Calvino wrote “Whom Do We Write For or The Hypothetical Bookshelf,” suggesting that books are written to be placed next to other books in a juxtaposition of voices particular to each reader’s library. French artist Yann Sérandour evokes this transitional moment in literary theory by appropriating anterior works and reactivating them through subtle interventions and a precise sense of humor. He focuses on the act of reading

  • picks January 31, 2009

    Joseph Beuys

    An intimate look at the beginnings of Joseph Beuys’s artistic practice, the ten works on paper in this exhibition reveal some of his initial experiments with material and form. In the earliest drawing, Akt (Nude), 1952, made just one year after Beuys finished his studies at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, he portrays a classically proportioned, undressed female figure posed in profile. Her body is hunched and bent, as if from the weight of the chlorinated iron that Beuys used to make his marks. He employed the burnt-orange metallic paste again in Kalkteingebirge (Limestone Mountains), 1956, and

  • picks January 31, 2009

    Renzo Martens

    In his latest work, Episode III, 2008, shot in the Democratic Republic of the Congo over a period of two years, Dutch artist Renzo Martens considers western perceptions of Africa. Evoking the historic and ongoing colonialist exploitation of the continent’s natural resources, a critical Martens dubs the indirect exchange documented by his film—images of humanitarian crises in return for foreign aid—the “poverty alleviation industry.”

    The nearly ninety-minute film screens three times daily in the gallery’s second-floor space. On display nearby are a few key artifacts from Martens’s Congo tour—three

  • picks December 21, 2008

    “Phoenix v. Babel”

    Likening Berlin to a modern-day Babel, exhibition curator Patrice Joly has selected ten artists who are based in Germany’s capital for this show, while also channeling narratives of construction and destruction through the myth of the phoenix. Revisiting the legacy that the Pergamon Museum recently examined in the exhibition “Babylon: Myth and Truth,” Joly continues to unravel the mythical and lived complexities of the modern metropolis. The diverse range of formal language and content engaged by Saâdane Afif, Leonor Antunes, Robert Barta, Mladen Bizumic, Jean-Pascal Flavien, Mathew Hale, Timo