Snippets: Paris, Jun 2013

The majestic Petit Palais aka Musée des Beaux-Arts, exhibits many objets d'art that are breathtakingly beautiful, also displays paintings & sculptures from significant French artists. Jean-Honoré Fragonard's bistre wash landscape, is a drawing that contains all the free-spiritedness evident in his paintings. The superb portrait of Parisian art dealer Ambroise Vollard by Paul Cézanne, conveys a serious individual that was adept at his business, and respected by his peers. Exhibited in a large room dedicated to the commoner, are Fernand Pelez' oil paintings of poor people. Displayed side by side on a single wall, individual groups of figures occupy multiple canvases, an empathetic work that sees contemporary parallels with local artist Kim Ng's "City Dweller" series.

Fernand Pelez - La Bouchée de Pain (1904)

Only in Paris can an established art institution hold an exhibition as bizarre, and receives a positive response.  "The Angel of the Odd" at the Musée d'Orsay explores dark romanticism, an aesthetic trend that recalls a heretical Europe accustomed to, violent mythologies and scaremongering traditions. Consisting of 200+ artworks spanning two-and-a-half centuries, it is apparent that dark scary pictures have always been popular. An ambitious event that reminds one of an instinctive fear we all possess, it is nevertheless an enjoyable show, that highlights the famous and the obscure. The repeating themes of grotesque monsters, cannibalistic tendencies, and enclosed forests, look to be replicated continuously in contemporary pop culture, feeding on our carnal desires.

Edvard Munch - Vampire (1895)

Good design is fine art made functional, where an object's aesthetic value provides empirical solace. The "Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec Momentané" exhibition held at Les Arts Decoratifs, celebrates the many works of this brilliant designer pair. Featuring hall-sized partitioning installations, workspaces made of sustainable materials, and design icons like the Vegetal chair - what blew me away are the walls covered with hand drawings. Sketches by the brothers, denote an intense desire to integrate natural forms and material attributes, into the product. Many drawings by itself are more beautiful than artworks, with its defined shapes and contrasting colours.

Display at the "Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec Momentané" exhibition (more pictures here

A mind numbing visit to the Centre Pompidou, left me the searing image of Jackson Pollock's 'The Deep' imprinted into my mind, an emotive work that explicates depth within the canvas, via gestural abstraction. Two retrospectives were ongoing in different corners of the building - one for shock artist Mike Kelley, where a good horror movie probably stirs up more uneasiness. Simon Hantaï occupies the other, an abstract painter inspired by the Surrealists and Pollock, but now known for his pliage (folding) technique. In Simon's mature works, the canvas is folded or knotted before painting, producing blocks of colour and unprimed areas, that amazingly project naturalist forms. 

Simon Hantaï - Meun (1968)

Each visit to the Musée de l’Orangerie is like a pilgrimage - promenade the wide paths of the Jardin des Tuileries, absorb the charms of the French gardens, then enter into the shrine of Claude Monet. The two circular galleries of Nymphéas, invoke a deep sense of serenity like a burden lifted. Standing in front of each water lily mural, one feels the moist air, and wind stroking the surface of the stream. A calm overpowers the viewer, despite having just viewed the expressionist paintings downstairs, be it the indignity of Chaim Soutine, or aloofness of Amedeo Modigliani. Even the Impressionism critic has to admit - when the style is executed with such sublimity, the fleeting light can indeed touch the deepest recesses of our hearts.

Claude Monet - Soleil couchant (1926)