Art Paris & 1-54 / Review
TDE's highlights from the two April fairs.
APRIL WAS A BUSY fair month in the French capital. Inside the temporary Grand Palais Éphémère near the Eiffel Tower, Art Paris ran its 24th edition – assembling 130 modern and contemporary art galleries between 7th-10th April. Meanwhile, at Christie’s on Avenue Matignon, the second Parisian edition of the African Contemporary Art Fair 1-54 took place, with 23 galleries represented.
The Design Edit’s top picks:
Galerie Jeanne Bucher Jaeger (Paris/Lisbon) presented Susumu Shingu’s entrancing ‘Astral Forest’ (2013), priced €40,000. It is a landscape-sculpture featuring five “trees” made from tiny white kites atop swaying, spindly rods that are “rooted” in an aluminium table. Shingu is known for his Wind Museum in Japan, which is full of outdoor, animated sculptures that move in the breeze. The Japanese artist’s poetic pieces have also graced a basin of the Jardin des Tuileries and the lake of a French château.
What was striking at MASSIMODECARLO Pièce Unique (Paris) was Luigi Ontani’s ‘Tavolozza dei colori nominali’ (1969 – 2015) – a small table, shaped like an artist’s palette, standing on three paintbrush legs, priced €90,000. Realised in the studio of Giorgio Morandi, it is embellished with 20 portraits of the late Italian painter and a ceramic vase of flowers. It was first shown in Ontani’s exhibition inside Morandi’s house and studio in Bologna, Ortani’s and typifies his blend of craft and performance, surrealism and kitsch.
Nature was a significant theme at Art Paris. On view at Galerie Les filles du calvaire (Paris) were Kate MccGwire’s sculptures, priced €4,700-€7,200, meticulously made from thousands of feathers. The display coincided with the British artist’s solo show at the gallery. The undulating forms in two framed pieces are evocative of a landscape, while the twisted form in a vitrine is loosely reminiscent of a sleeping black swan.
On display at Galerie Max Hetzler (Berlin/Paris) was Edmund de Waal’s elegiac work ‘die erste Elegie’ (2022), priced $110,000. A gold leaf-edged vitrine encasing alabaster blocks and delicate porcelain vases, suggestive of books and vessels lining a bookcase, it exemplifies how de Waal grapples with the passing of time, loss and memory.
Pride of place at Gowen Contemporary (Geneva) was Joana Vasconcelos’s ‘Psychedelic Furs’ (2015), priced at €60,000, an amorphous mural sculpture made from hand-painted tiles and loops of beaded crochet. A joyful riot of colour, it beautifully pays tribute to Portuguese traditional crafts.
Textile-based pieces, as well as paintings and photography, prevailed at 1-54. Among these was Abdoulaye Konaté’s ‘Petit personnage sur fond gris bleu’ (2020), priced €75,000, at La Galerie 38 (Casablanca). Composed of layered, embroidered ribbons, the mesmerising, large-scale installation depicts a small central figure against a rhythmic grey, blue and black abstract background, typifying how the Malian artist draws on West Africa’s textile traditions.
Another standout was Joël Andrianomearisoa’s sublime ‘Les Herbes Folles du Vieux Logis’ (2022) at Primo Marella Gallery (Milan), priced €14,800. Bringing to mind a nocturnal landscape, Andrianomearisoa, a Malagasy artist based in France, made this textile-painting by painstakingly sewing together hundreds of pieces of fabric. It is in the continuum of his immersive installation of thin black veils, ‘I Have Forgotten the Night’, in Madagascar’s pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 2019, marking the country’s first national participation.