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Exhibitions

Paris Dispatch / March 2022

Gathering talent from across Europe, four shows to see this spring.

‘The Wet Material’ at Galerie Frank Elbaz
Until 19th March 2022

‘1er étage’ at Sinople
Until 12th March 2022

‘Naturation: Guillaume Delvigne’ at Tools Galerie
Until 26th March 2022

‘Stefan Leo by Galerie 208’
Until 12th April 2022

By Anna Sansom / 8th March 2022
Guillaume Delvigne, 'Mangrove' table, 2022 COURTESY: Guillaume Delvigne & Tools Galerie

Guillaume Delvigne, ‘Mangrove’ table, 2022
COURTESY: Guillaume Delvigne & Tools Galerie

The pandemic may have slowed down the pace of Parisian galleries but it hasn’t dented their desire to discover international artists and inaugurate new spaces. This month, designers from Georgia, Germany, Belgium and France, whose practices reflect upon architecture, nature and tactility, are all on view across the French capital.

‘The Wet Material’ at Galerie Frank Elbaz
The contemporary art gallerist Frank Elbaz makes his first foray into design with this collaborative exhibition between photographer Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili and Rooms Studio (Nata Janberidze and Keti Toloraia). The three artists are childhood friends, and hail from Tbilisi, in Georgia.

“All our pieces are inspired by the streets and architecture of Tbilisi and utilitarian objects that anonymous people have constructed with found materials out of pure necessity and that you can see in flea markets and public spaces,” Janberidze and Toloraia say on the phone from their studio.

Exhibition view, 'The Wet Material' COURTESY: Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, Rooms Studio & Galerie Frank Elbaz / PHOTOGRAPH: Claire Dorn

Exhibition view, ‘The Wet Material’ with ‘Dry Bridge Daybed’
COURTESY: Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, Rooms Studio & Galerie Frank Elbaz / PHOTOGRAPH: Claire Dorn

Near the entrance is ‘Dry Bridge Daybed’ made from raw, salvaged wooden parts that have been combined with aluminium panels to create a constructivist shape. ‘Polygon Desk’, meanwhile, was inspired by the form of the wooden wedges that support canvases. Under the vaulted ceiling, Alexi-Meskhishvili’s ‘Georgian Ornament’ (2021) series, in which plastic bags from tourism shops hover like relics, blend harmoniously with Rooms Studio’s new furniture pieces.

Exhibition view, 'The Wet Material' COURTESY: Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, Rooms Studio & Galerie Frank Elbaz / PHOTOGRAPH: Claire Dorn

Exhibition view, ‘The Wet Material’ with ‘Polygon Desk’
COURTESY: Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, Rooms Studio & Galerie Frank Elbaz / PHOTOGRAPH: Claire Dorn

Rooms Studio gleaned other ideas from domestic situations. ‘I See You’, a white rectangular wooden table with integrated vessels for salt and pepper, is a reflection upon the function of ordinary dining tables. Next to it is a sculptural chair, the arcs on its backrest recalling Gothic architecture. The black arcs characterising ‘Sunday Bench’ – named after the tradition of families getting together on Sundays – are similarly reminiscent of the country’s heritage and Persian influences.

Exhibition view, 'The Wet Material' COURTESY: Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, Rooms Studio & Galerie Frank Elbaz / PHOTOGRAPH: Claire Dorn

Exhibition view, ‘The Wet Material’ with ‘Sunday Bench’
COURTESY: Ketuta Alexi-Meskhishvili, Rooms Studio & Galerie Frank Elbaz / PHOTOGRAPH: Claire Dorn

For the exhibition, Rooms Studio and Alexi-Meskhishvili collaborated on a lamp that is like a tall, beautiful blue rose on a gold stem. Tinged with nostalgia, it relates to images Alexi-Meskhishvili has captured of blue roses in her photography and Rooms Studio’s childhood memory of postcard images of kitsch flowers.

‘1er étage’ at Sinople
‘1er étage’ is the third exhibition at Sinople, which was inaugurated last October, but the first dedicated to large-scale pieces.

Exhibition view, '1ER ÉTAGE COURTESY: The artists & Sinople / PHOTOGRAPH: Christophe Coenon

Exhibition view, ‘1ER ÉTAGE
COURTESY: The artists & Sinople / PHOTOGRAPH: Christophe Coenon

Founded by Julien Strypsteen and Éric-Sébastien Faure-Lagorce, the gallery is located on the first floor of an eighteenth-century townhouse in the cobbled Passage de Retz in the Marais. Sinople traces its inception to 2018 when it was launched as a design consultancy studio that produced itinerant exhibitions. The studio and gallery alike are based on a philosophy of defending craftsmanship and discreet design in natural materials by young talents.

Recalling how the intimate space was formerly an apartment, this multi-media exhibition, also bringing together photography and video, is seamlessly divided into three areas. Greeting visitors in the ‘hallway’ is Belgian designer Charlotte Anne Declercq’s ‘Console Lateral’ (2020), €3,500, made from brushed aluminium. A play on volumes, its slender surface contrasts with its sturdier legs.

The centrepiece in the ‘living area’ is Edgar Jayet and Victor Fleury Ponsin’s installation, ‘A benidor’ (2021), which won the Grand Prix Design Parade Toulon Van Cleef & Arpels last summer. Imagined as a refuge from the Mediterranean heat, it was realised after the duo raised funds on Kickstarter to participate in the festival. A wooden structure with air vents is balanced on limestone rocks between which a board leads to a flame-fusion patterned steel plate, which can serve as a bookshelf. The piece will be offered in Piasa’s forthcoming sale, ‘Rustic Revival’ curated by Marie Kalt, on 27th April 2022.

Exhibition view, '1ER ÉTAGE' COURTESY: The artists & Sinople / PHOTOGRAPH: Christophe Coenon

Exhibition view, ‘1ER ÉTAGE’
COURTESY: The artists & Sinople / PHOTOGRAPH: Christophe Coenon

Towards the back is the ‘office’ featuring the ‘Prototype’ desk (2021), €3,950, by Hugo Haas Studio, founded by the former artistic director of architecture/design agency Ciguë, in collaboration with Atelier Chatersen. Made from carved chestnut wood and a steel surface with a blue-greyish tint, it is among the recent acquisitions of the Mobilier National, France’s national furniture collection.

Hugo Haas x Atelier Chatersen, 'Prototype' desk, 2021 COURTESY: Hugo Haas x Atelier Chatersen & Sinople / PHOTOGRAPH: © Anne-Sophie Auclerc

Hugo Haas x Atelier Chatersen, ‘Prototype’ desk, 2021
COURTESY: Hugo Haas x Atelier Chatersen & Sinople / PHOTOGRAPH: © Anne-Sophie Auclerc

Works by several other designers, including Antwerp-based Studio Corkinhom – which has created a tower, side table and mural piece from amalgamated shapes of cork, ranging from €640-€1,600 complete the selection.

‘Naturation: Guillaume Delvigne’ at Tools Galerie
The French designer Guillaume Delvigne found inspiration in the rocks and geological forms in Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales, for the new pieces in his third show at Tools Galerie in the Marais.

Guillaume Delvigne, 'Caldera' table, 2022 COURTESY: Guillaume Delvigne & Tools Galerie

Guillaume Delvigne, ‘Caldera’ table, 2022
COURTESY: Guillaume Delvigne & Tools Galerie

On display are two rows of small tables in gently rounded shapes in a diversity of materials, from patinated bronze to marble and wood. The eight pieces, which are like members of a family, are revealing of Delvigne’s versatility in mastering materials and his faithfulness to organic forms. They also speak about his enthusiasm for collaborating with craftspeople in different countries. While the works in oak that grew out of his trip to Pembrokeshire were made in France’s mountainous region of Les Vosges, those in marble were realised in Italy and the pink glass top in another piece was executed in Switzerland.

Exhibition view, ‘Naturation: Guillaume Delvigne’
COURTESY: Guillaume Delvigne & Tools Galerie

Exhibition view, ‘Naturation: Guillaume Delvigne’
COURTESY: Guillaume Delvigne & Tools Galerie

“While the works in oak that grew out of his trip to Pembrokeshire were made in France’s mountainous region of Les Vosges …”

Exhibition view, ‘Naturation: Guillaume Delvigne’
COURTESY: Guillaume Delvigne & Tools Galerie

Exhibition view, ‘Naturation: Guillaume Delvigne’
COURTESY: Guillaume Delvigne & Tools Galerie

“… those in marble were realised in Italy, and the pink glass top in another piece was executed in Switzerland”

Born in 1979, Delvigne studied at the Politecnico di Milano – the training ground for luminaries such as Gio Ponti – and debuted his career working for George Sowden, a founding member of Memphis. In 2011, he established his eponymous studio, pursuing a more pared-down approach. That same year, he encountered Loïc Bigot, owner of Tools Galerie, and won the Grand Prix from the City of Paris for an ensemble of three interlocking tables.

‘Stefan Leo by Galerie 208’ 
“I don’t want to create something that’s going to be everybody’s darling but something that people want to touch and talk about,” Stefan Leo says. The Berlin-based designer is surveying his exhibition of brightly coloured works made from ‘pollen’ glass and ceramics at Galerie 208.

Stefan Leo, 'ONNO' console, 2022 COURTESY: Stefan Leo & Galerie 208

Stefan Leo, ‘ONNO’ console, 2022
COURTESY: Stefan Leo & Galerie 208

Founded by Patricia Chicheportiche, Galerie 208 inaugurated this space last year in an elegant, Haussmannian building on Avenue Victor Hugo in the 16th arrondissement of western Paris. Chicheportiche’s concept is to present contemporary art and design in prestigious apartments where collectors can better imagine what the pieces would look like in their own homes. Leo’s show, for instance, is juxtaposed with paintings by British artist Michael Pemberton.

Stefan Leo, 'ONNO' console, 2021 COURTESY: Stefan Leo & Galerie 208

Stefan Leo, ‘ONNO’ console, 2021
COURTESY: Stefan Leo & Galerie 208

The culmination of 15 years of experimentation with kiln-cast glass, the exhibition assembles around ten pieces, from variously sized tables to consoles and lamps. Transparent layers of coloured petals float across the glass surfaces, born from exploring with bubbles of air during the casting process.

Stefan Leo, 'Lampe Tanis', 2022 COURTESY: Stefan Leo & Galerie 208

Stefan Leo, ‘Tanis’ lamp, 2022
COURTESY: Stefan Leo & Galerie 208

Among the new works is the standard ‘Tanis’ lamp (2022). The five panels, attached to a ceramic trunk glimmering with patterns of pale pink, turquoise and azure petals, are loosely evocative of cherry blossom. Conceding that the prettiness of the piece is “polarising”, Leo – a former travel photographer and surfer – is enchanted by its magical quality. “I’ve always wanted to give an added value to an ordinary material and make it special,” he says, smiling.

‘The Wet Material’ is at Galerie Frank Elbaz, 66 rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris. Prices on request.

‘1er étage’ is at Sinople, Hôtel de Retz, 9 rue Charlot, 75003 Paris. Prices as mentioned.

‘Naturation: Guillaume Delvigne’ is at Tools Galerie, 16 rue des Coutures Saint-Gervais,
75003 Paris. Prices range from €3,800-€26,500.

‘Stefan Leo by Galerie 208’, 198 Avenue Victor Hugo, 75016 Paris. Visits by appointment only. Prices range from €2,600-€24,000.

Article by Anna Sansom
Article by Anna Sansom
Anna Sansom is a British journalist, based in Paris, who writes about contemporary art, design and architecture. View all articles by Anna Sansom