Critics’ Picks

View of Douglas Gordon and Jonathan Monk, “Paris Bar,” 2016.

View of Douglas Gordon and Jonathan Monk, “Paris Bar,” 2016.


Douglas Gordon and Jonathan Monk

Taro Nasu
6-6-9 Roppongi, Minato-Ku Piramide Bldg. 4F
April 8–May 14, 2016

Douglas Gordon and Jonathan Monk’s exhibition “Paris Bar” is a collaborative installation comprising colored neon signs of text culled from the menu of the Berlin restaurant. The signs are hung above eye level around the white walls of the basement gallery, and different dishes and drinks flash on and off corresponding to the order and duration in which Gordon and Monk consumed them when they dined at the establishment sometime in 2015. Witnessing the total display, therefore, is no quick thing.

The room is at times lit by a pink “Escargots de Bourgogne,” others by a green “Badoit,” and then a white “Asperge, sauce hollandaise, pomme de terres nouvelles.” The emptiness and relative quiet of the gallery contrasts with the imagined scene of the artists lunching. Visitors can picture the movements and people within the busy restaurant: Gordon and Monk conversing over a bottle of “Châteaux Batailley Grand Cru Classé Pauillac, 2010”; a waiter delivering the main courses; another fixing an “Espresso.”

Here, the neon signs, normally used as outdoor advertisements, allude to the sense of exclusion engendered through the withholding of the intimate details of the meal. They resemble those adorning the front of the Berlin restaurant itself. The viewer, although inside the gallery, remains outside the restaurant. Embodied within this sense of exclusion are ideas related to wealth, celebrity, privacy, and even the desire for cultural capital acquired via artistic comment. We are emphatically deprived of the artists’ voices, and in the sparse gallery, their absence is palpable.