• Current

  • Past

Chiharu Shiota

Galerie Daniel Templon | Paris
30 rue Beaubourg
May 20–July 22

Chiharu Shiota, Destination, 2017, wool thread, metal, dimensions variable.

Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota has likened her artistic practice with yarn to that of a calligrapher. It’s a fitting parallel: Shiota trained in painting before gravitating toward three-dimensionality. She studied in Braunschweig, Germany, under Marina Abramović, and later in Berlin, where she lives today. Her immersive environments and intricately wrought objects, enigmatic yet deeply physical, are the results of painstaking labor. Shiota’s current exhibition, consisting almost entirely of works produced this year, occupies the main gallery and its annex. Destination, 2017, is a site-specific, room-engulfing labyrinth that has the sprawl of an uncontrollable fungus, a haywire cat’s cradle, or a webbed cathedral in red. Like her installation The Key in the Hand, 2015—made from second-hand keys ensnarled in massive amounts of scarlet string for the Japan pavilion at the Fifty-Sixth Venice Biennale—the work engages directly with the volume of its surroundings.

Shiota’s canvases, such as Endless Line I–III, a triptych, or her five-part work Silent Explosion I–V (both 2017), flatten the effect of her threaded tangles—their crosshatch patterns evoke cells enlarged under a microscope. But even those surfaces refuse to stay completely planar: The threads claw past the rectangle of the canvas onto the sides. Shiota’s other sculptures tangle quotidian items (a child’s dress, a telescope, a chair) without addressing the stories behind them. Around these anonymous possessions, the networks of yarn stand in for muddled memories that no one will ever unfurl.

Sarah Moroz

“Cholet–New York”

Kamel Mennour | Rue du Pont de Lodi
6, rue du Pont de Lodi
April 27–July 22

Kamel Mennour | Rue Saint-André des Arts
47 Rue Saint-André des Arts
April 27–July 22

View of “Cholet–New York,” 2017.

François Morellet, who died last year, designated himself the “freak child of Mondrian and Picabia.” Morellet created grid-based paintings and abstract planar compositions that look sober and rigorous yet reflect the artist’s declaration that “art is frivolous even when it takes itself seriously.” Upon entering the gallery (the exhibition extends to Kamel Mennour’s Pont de lodi space), one sees three square oil-on-wood pieces from 1958, 1969, and 1970, hung on patterned wallpaper, titled Trames, 1972. The adjacent room contains a vitrine of decorative mosaics photographed at the Alhambra, which inspired a series of spare silhouettes Morellet painted in oils using sharp angles (“2 fois 90°, 90°, 45°, 45°, etc.,” 1957). He also played with materiality, using adhesive for large-scale patterning and installations in flashing neon. The show celebrates the artist’s prototypical contributions to Minimalism and Conceptualism, but it also asks: Why are some artists more well known than others? Morellet’s legacy is framed against his transatlantic contemporaries—better-recognized figures such as Ellsworth Kelly, Frank Stella, Sol LeWitt, and Fred Sandback, whose works also appear in the show. Having always resided in the French town of Cholet, away from Paris, Morellet lacked visibility.

A beef ensued when the February 1973 issue of Flash Art noted the similarities between a work LeWitt made in 1969 and a piece done by Morellet more than a decade earlier. LeWitt responded with several column inches of protest in the magazine: “Single works can always be shown to be similar to other single works,” he rationalized. In a letter to his then partner, Beatrice Conrad-Eybesfeld, LeWitt wrote: “To say I copy ideas is not true but if they become part of my mentality they are mine also.” An artist’s work is never, ultimately, examined wholly on its own terms.

Sarah Moroz