Lillian Davies

  • 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

  • picks December 15, 2008

    Jordi Colomer

    Using the camera as a means to investigate sculptural and architectural forms, Jordi Colomer tugs at the fabric of urban life. In this exhibition of new and recent works, he transforms the gallery space, intensifying the scenarios embedded within his still and moving images. Colomer infuses the galleries with a visceral aesthetic: His films are projected onto wooden panels, and a motley collection of beat-up chairs is arranged against the wall of almost every room. In his installation Anarchitekton, 2002–2004, four projected films and maquettes offer a lo-fi mimicry that strikes at the constructed

  • picks December 06, 2008

    Heidi Wood

    Heidi Wood embraces the visual efficiency of abstract geometric painting through a strategic application of shapes and colors. By rotating a selection of her new and recent paintings and photographs during each week of this exhibition’s nine-week run, Wood insists that nothing is final in her practice. The general palette of these works is derived from the women’s autumn/winter 2008 collections featured at Galeries Lafayette, one of Paris’s premier department stores. Wood also gathers the eerily familiar yet enigmatic shapes in her paintings from popular iconography—street signs, souvenirs,

  • picks November 17, 2008

    Melik Ohanian

    Though Le Plateau is just one of the fifteen sites for French artist Melik Ohanian’s exhibition “From the Voice to the Hand,” the photographs, sculptures, and installations he has selected for this space nonetheless provide several key insights into the project as a whole. Betraying Ohanian’s concern with language, history, and time, five new and recent works are conceptually linked to the full project, installed at a range of venues in and around Paris, including a school, a swimming-pool compound, and the recently inaugurated Museum of Immigration. Reversing the visitor’s usual experience of

  • diary October 29, 2008

    Palais Intrigue


    MY FIAC WEEK COMMENCED with a cold and rainy morning tour of the Tuileries sculpture installations led by fair directors Jennifer Flay and Martin Bethenod. Yet in spite of the cheerless weather, the fair itself opened with excitement last Tuesday afternoon in the Cour Carrée du Louvre. As VIP crowds pushed into the tent at 4 PM, someone shouted, “It’s better than Frieze—everything is sold!” I ran into the Rubells outside Frank Elbaz’s booth, where Mera Rubell gave accolades to the emerging Parisian scene; the globe-trotting collectors didn’t seem put off by the economic crisis: “The financial

  • picks October 23, 2008

    Amal Kenawy

    Egyptian artist Amal Kenawy presents visceral self-portraits and surreal narratives to explore conventional representations of the female body. An artistic descendant of Frida Kahlo, Kenawy creates drawings, sculptures, videos, and installations that feature her face or figure, often tangled in nightmarish or dreamlike scenarios. Concerned with the spectacle of the female form as well as the spectacular, the installation Blue, 2008, features a fountain of water set in the middle of the gallery. Spraying in front of the projected slides and video that compose Blue, the water visually and aurally

  • picks October 17, 2008

    Timo Nasseri

    Born and based in Berlin, Timo Nasseri channels his mother’s German background and his father’s Iranian heritage in his latest series of sculptures and drawings. Nasseri appropriates the Muqarnas, an arrangement of small pointed niches long common to of Islamic and Persian architecture, and aligns it with German existentialist thought. Rather than place his two inherited cultures in opposition, he develops the elegant design feature through an internally produced logic. Nasseri’s wall drawing Everything Is Everything (all works 2008) repeats the basic geometry of the Muqarnas structure to create

  • Gyan Panchal

    The architect Louis Kahn used to say: “I asked the brick, ‘What do you like, brick?’ And brick said, ‘I like an arch.’” Citing Kahn’s devotion to material as the determinant of form, French sculptor Gyan Panchal likewise conceives structure as a response to its physical constituents. Using both industrial products including polystyrene and glass wool, and organic matter such as oyster shells and wood, Panchal tends to the unique physical demands of each object. In his knowing appropriation of both the natural ingredients often found in Arte Povera and the technical components of Minimalism,

  • diary September 30, 2008

    Report Carte


    “They all know Martin Parr, so they get it.” DJ Guillaume Sorge was responding to my inquiry about how Jeremy Deller’s Folk Archive, an expansive collection of British “folk” art that opened last Thursday at the Palais de Tokyo, would translate across the English Channel. How would the eternally sophisticated Parisians read photos of, for example, Tom Harrington MBE, Cumberland and Westmorland wrestling champion, dressed in his floral embroidered briefs and undershirt? But as I approached the museum early Thursday evening, Peter Clare was already cheerfully leading Snowdrop, his life-size

  • picks September 04, 2008

    Huang Yong Ping

    For “Frolic,” his first solo exhibition in the United Kingdom, Chinese artist Huang Yong Ping draws the title from the name of a ship involved in the opium trade between China and Britain’s colonies in India. During the height of this trade, during the middle of the nineteenth century, the UK and China became embroiled in what became known as the Opium Wars. While the British supported the exportation of opium to China as a way to balance the trade deficit with the tea-, silk-, and porcelain-rich country, the Chinese attempted to disable the largely British- and American-run drug traffic.

  • picks August 04, 2008

    Hubert Duprat

    Fluent in a range of materials and forms, French sculptor Hubert Duprat presents his first solo exhibition in three years, a group of new sculptures expressly produced for the distinct spaces of Aldo Rossi’s naval-inspired architecture. The work retains an atmosphere of spontaneity and experimentation in its engagement with a variety of unstable materials: pyrite, magnetite, and modeling paste. The complexity of Duprat's sculptures (all but one untitled, 2008) is ambitious, but they remain holistic, as the artist maintains an acute sense of light and the ephemeral even as he approaches monumental

  • picks July 11, 2008

    Tatiana Trouvé

    A tightly bound presentation of new work by Italian artist Tatiana Trouvé, presented on the occasion of her winning the 2007 Prix Marcel Duchamp, thrusts the fourth, temporal dimension between her three-dimensional sculptures and two-dimensional graphite drawings on paper: On each end of the gallery, black sand pours from a tiny hole in the wall onto the floor, slowly building an iridescent cone. Several gaps cut into the museum’s walls allow a look into the hidden and empty structural spaces of Renzo Piano’s Pompidou Center, a building notable for the exposure of its internal mechanics. Within

  • picks June 27, 2008

    Jonathan Monk

    Facilitating an unprecedented partnership between two historically distinct institutions, Jonathan Monk’s Parisian museum debut is a clever presentation of the artist’s playful manipulations of time and space. Smartly curated selections of Monk’s new and recent work are installed in strikingly similar spaces at the Palais de Tokyo and the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, bridging an array of spatial, temporal—not to mention social—divisions between the two establishments. Commissioned by Monk from an atelier in China, Before a Bigger Splash, 2006, is a near copy of David Hockney’s iconic

  • picks June 09, 2008

    Giuseppe Penone

    With a consummate sense of form and surface, Giuseppe Penone renders this group of new and recent large-scale works with the distilled, intimate touch of a quick sketch on paper. Here, three large, multipanel graphite drawings, each titled Pelle di grafite (Graphite Skin), 2003–2006, two on black paper and one on black canvas, hang on each of the three windowless walls of the gallery’s ground floor. Penone creates abstract patterns, suggestive of vegetal or animal membranes, in luminous graphite. His marks on the dark matte backgrounds are wide tipped and deliberate, furthering the reflective

  • diary May 27, 2008

    House Call

    Granada, Spain

    Last Friday afternoon, after a short flight to Granada, I followed a tour through the summer house that Federico García Lorca’s family bought in 1925. Laura García Lorca de los Rios, dressed in tailored black linen, evoked the memory of her uncle by way of a recollection of footsteps on a rocky path—the sound of Lorca and his friends as they would return to the house after an evening in town. The lively group would usually wander back around 2 AM, and Lorca would head straight to his desk to write. He would wake for lunch, then begin writing again as the rest of the house settled into a siesta.

  • picks May 01, 2008

    André Cadere

    This modest exhibition, which traces Warsaw-born Romanian artist André Cadere’s Conceptual and performative practice in 1960s and ’70s Paris, reflects the quiet yet fierce determination the artist displayed in his interventions, promenades, and “paintings without end”—wooden rods made of individual cylindrical elements, each painted with a different color. Cadere, uninterested in authoritative gestures, used a mathematical formula to determine the order of the colors in each rod; likewise, the height of each element matches the rod’s diameter. A number of these works are included in the show,

  • picks April 03, 2008

    Cheyney Thompson

    Louisiana-born artist Cheyney Thompson’s as yet untitled painting (all works 2008) of a grayscale grid hangs directly opposite the gallery entrance and is the first work one encounters on entering the gallery’s single, pared-down room. Before Thompson seduces viewers with his elegant rendering of tone, form, and depth in two larger paintings on the wall to the right, he reveals the pair of canvases as a mere accretion of tonal values. In fact, these two larger paintings, also as yet untitled, are part of Thompson’s ongoing series “Quelques Aspects de l’Art Bourgeois: La Non-Intervention” (Some

  • picks April 03, 2008

    Xavier Veilhan

    Xavier Veilhan’s cinematographic urge is instantly apparent on slipping into the artist’s latest solo show, installed in the gallery’s main space and a recent extension on a narrow dead-end street just behind it. Borrowing the title of the exhibition, “Furtivo,” from a boat that features in the artist’s film of the same name, Veilhan extends the slick aesthetic of his moving images to a group of new and recent sculptures and photographs. Dominating the newer space, the glistening chrome sculpture Le Requin (The Shark), 2008, modeled on the figure of a shark, is really more suggestive of a

  • Falke Pisano

    In 1925, Ireland-born architect and designer Eileen Gray began work on a minimalist villa, E-1027, in the southern French commune of Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. In collaboration with Jean Badovici, Gray conceived the innovative project as a dynamic marriage of tight forms and flexible spaces. Gray’s contemporary, Le Corbusier, quickly developed a fierce admiration of the house, and in 1938 and 1939, he painted a series of murals on its interior walls. Using Gray’s clean, reductive architecture as a canvas on which to project his own vision, Le Corbusier went beyond the role of engaged spectator. His