Belleville Rendezvous

Lillian Davies around fall openings in Belleville


Left: Artist Boris Mikhailov and dealer Suzanne Tarasiève. Right: Artist Jessica Warboys and dealer Denis Gaudel. (All photos: Lillian Davies)

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, and everyday objects. Mikhailov was excited to show the project in Paris, “the center of sex and revolution,” as he put it. “In the Ukraine we don’t show naked people,” the artist lamented.

En route to the up-and-coming gallery Gaudel de Stampa, I stopped by castillo/corrales, where Benjamin Thorel, who runs castillo’s Section 7 Books, proudly showed off a few new titles: artist Lili Reynaud-Dewar’s magazine Petunia and Paraguay Press’s newest publication, The Interview. At Gaudel de Stampa, Welsh artist Jessica Warboys presented her own zine, Palme, which she’d put together with French artist Clément Rodzielski. Director Denis Gaudel explained that he sees a great cosmopolitan crowd come through his space, but still “not a lot from Paris’s boulevard Saint-Germain. The reputation of Belleville is a little sulfureuse.”

Left: castillo/corrales’s François Piron and Benjamin Thorel. Right: Dealer Claudia Cargnel and artist Gardar Eide Einarsson.

Walking toward Bugada & Cargnel, née Cosmic Galerie, I noted all the shops setting tables of dates, sodas, and pastries out on the sidewalk. Gaudel had reminded me that we are currently in the middle of Ramadan, so the already busy September streets of Belleville would become even livelier as the evening progressed. New York–based artist Gardar Eide Einarsson was opening his first solo show at the gallery, which was the second commercial space to open in Belleville, after Jocelyn Wolff. Having moved from the Marais, Cargnel explained that she prefers the new area because “here the crowd is preselected—you don’t have the tourists knocking on your door.”

A few blocks south, at his gallery, Wolff (opening an elegant show by Guillaume Leblon) said that “the range of generations is one of the most remarkable aspects of the openings in Belleville tonight. There are young people as well as extremely skilled collectors.” After pausing for a quick chat with one of said patrons, Wolff explained that “for a while French people overestimated their position, then they started undervaluing their production. Now there’s a maturity, a balance between the Napoleon syndrome and the overnegativity.”

Left: Café au lit’s Andrea Weisbrod and Jens Emil Sennewald. Right: Dealer Jocelyn Wolff and artist Guillaume Leblon.

Although it doesn’t officially open until October, Isabelle Alfonsi and Cécilia Becanovic’s new gallery, Marcelle Alix (just around the corner from Jocelyn Wolff), hosted a performance that evening by artists Louise Hervé and Chloé Maillet. Beginning at Square Ménilmontant, Hervé and Maillet led their audience into the empty gallery, a former Indian restaurant, and proceeded to link architectural aspects of the space with scenes from horror films. With brilliant deadpan delivery, Hervé and Maillet, dressed in black skirt-suits, gave a lecture-performance, complete with comparative transparencies on an overhead projector, cloaking the gallery’s street-level exhibition space and basement with images from Evil Dead and Drag Me to Hell.

Inaugurating Balice Hertling’s beautiful new space, Oscar Tuazon’s sculptural installation and a performance by poet Ariana Reines also drew in the crowds. Tuazon had admired Reines’s work for a long time, and although Reines had “never seen Oscar’s work in person, just Googled it,” she agreed to a collaboration. Reading texts written no more than ten days before her performance, at one point Reines had her French audience chanting, “I want the gold. Shimmer, shimmer.” Later Reines admitted that she “was just as embarrassed as they were, so no one was exploited.”

Left: Dealers Daniele Balice and Alexander Hertling. Right: Louise Hervé and Chloé Maillet’s performance at Marcelle Alix.

Einarsson and Tuazon are old friends from their days in the Whitney Independent Study Program (Einarsson is also godfather to Tuazon’s baby girl), so Balice Hertling and Bugada & Cargnel joined forces for a dinner at the Pavillon Puebla inside Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Nestled in the dramatically landscaped park, a project of Napoleon III, the galleries and their guests filled more than half a dozen banquet tables in the main dining room, where everyone enjoyed an Italian meal served family-style. Red wine flowed, and the pianist, variously working a synthesizer and a baby grand, rolled out ballads by Lucio Battisti and Charles Azvanour.

Dessert (tiramisu) wrapped up a little after 1 AM, and revelers began making their way to Chez Moune, a former lesbian club in the ninth arrondissement that’s recently been taken over by notorious entrepreneur André Saraiva (of Le Baron, Paris Paris, and Hotel Amour fame). There, the new magazine Paris, LA and designers Yazbukey hosted a lively afterparty for Tuazon and Einarsson. Phones buzzed with frantic texts from those wrapping up an evening of openings in upscale Saint-Germain, asking if there was any room on the guest list. On Wednesday night at least, Belleville was the city’s coup de coeur.

Left: Artists Ariana Reines and Oscar Tuazon. Right: La Galerie Noisy-le-Sec Director Marianne Lanavere and artist Samuel Richardot.