Paris Dispatch: February 2021
The capital's galleries provide an array of real-life shows to lift the spirits and light the darkness.
AS FRENCH PRIME Minister Jean Castex steadfastly resists a third lockdown, galleries in Paris remain open, unlike museums. It thus falls to the gallery sector to provide a cultural haven for art and design lovers during the pandemic. The 6pm nationwide curfew, however, means that opening hours are shorter. The Design Edit toured the Marais and Saint-Germain-des-Près to view collectible design shows and two new spaces.
Radiant: Light and (e)motion
Galerie Maria Wettergren
Galerie Maria Wettergren’s first exhibition of 2021 assembles works conveying the vibrancy and enchantment of natural phenomena and light by nine Scandinavian artists and designers, alongside French photography. Further confirming the gallery’s interdisciplinary vocation, the show briefly whisks the mind away from pandemic gloom into the realm of reverie. “I have long been curious about the warm, almost soothing effect emanating from many of these pieces and the idea was to explore the different ways in which the idea of light, both as a light beam and heat/emotion, are articulated,” Wettergren says. “I noticed that some works dialogue wonderfully together and sometimes these dialogues even open up new dimensions and meanings in the works.”
Greeting visitors is a mesmerising juxtaposition of Germans Ermičs and Iskos Berlin’s reddened glass-and-mirror bench, ‘Presence – Absence’ (2017), and Ane Lykke’s circular ‘Light Object’ (2018), made of latticed cypress wood and LEDs. Lykke, a Danish lighting artist, used a three-dimensional Kumiko grid to achieve varying degrees of intensity while Ermičs, a Latvian designer based in Amsterdam, experimented with tonal gradients, appearance and disappearance in his furniture piece. Combined, the two works evoke a sunset, the blazing golden centre of Lykke’s wall light reflecting onto the glass bench.
Astrid Krogh’s ‘My Golden Horizon’ (2020), an abstract work of gold leaf on pleated paper, continues in this vein, the different shades of gold changing with the width of the pleating. The Danish artist has also made a wall work, ‘Illimited’ (2019), with optic fibres and light monitors on a black background evoking a starry sky.
Further along is Finnish designer Ilkka Suppanen’s ‘Reunited I’ (2012), a transparent bowl made from thousands of tiny pieces of recycled Murano glass melted together that shimmers like the surface of a glacier when it catches the light. Other highlights are Grethe Sørensen’s installation ‘Reflection’ (2016), made from four suspended veils onto which a video of water is projected, and fellow Danish artist Cecilie Bendixen’s textile pendant ‘Much’ (2016) – a light-and-acoustic sculpture made from undulating stitched pleats that hovers like a cloud.
Daniela Busarello and Nadège Desgenétez
Galerie Hervé Van Der Straeten
Hervé Van Der Straeten has invited two artists, Daniela Busarello and Nadège Desgenétez, who are represented by the Parisian gallery Mouvements Modernes, to exhibit in his eponymous space. Their works converse with the buoyant furniture and lighting pieces from the French designer’s ‘Fun Ride’ collection that was unveiled last year.
Six of Desgenétez’s sensual handblown glass sculptures in gleaming, jewel-like tones are on display. Up close, it becomes discernible that they are inspired by parts of the body, such as a knee or an elbow. Desgenétez, who was born in France and is based in Australia, has been making handblown glass objects since the 1990s, seeking expressive ways of transforming the medium.
Also presented are four large-scale paintings by Busarello that are loosely inspired by landscapes and metaphysics. These ambitious, spatial works were created by painstakingly applying delicate brushstrokes of paint that are developed from handmade pigments. They allude to the ecological interest of the Brazilian-born, Paris-based artist, who trained as an architect and works as an interior designer.
Asked about the collaboration with Galerie Hervé Van Der Straeten, Sophie Mainier-Jullerot, director from Mouvements Modernes, replies: “Hervé and I share a sensibility towards materials and the ways they can be transformed by the hands of a designer or an artist. I find it interesting to create a dialogue between the artworks and Hervé’s furniture so that one can grasp the different creative possibilities that materials offer.” The show follows on from Van Der Straeten’s previous exhibitions of artists including Valérie Belin, Jason Martin and Jérôme Robbe – and collaborations with galleries like Thaddaeus Ropac and Perrotin.
Galerie Alexandre Guillemain
After Maria Wettergren left her space in Saint-Germain-des-Près to relocate to the Marais, Alexandre Guillemain moved in. The French antiques dealer had been situated a few doors down on the same street but was forced to leave after the owner sold the property. Replacing Wettergren’s contemporary Scandinavian art and design is an eclectic assortment of mostly American and European furniture and lighting from the 1950s-1980s. Whilst Wettergren allowed plenty of space for each piece to breathe, Guillemain’s gallery is brimming with works reflecting his wide-reaching taste and avid curiosity.
“I love mixing pieces from different eras and made from different materials – that’s my universe,” says Guillemain, who originally had a shop in the Paris flea market, Marché des Puces of Saint-Ouen, before moving to Saint-Germain-des-Près once he became more established. He adds: “I suggest lots of things to the client so that they can understand how to combine things.”
Initially perceived by his peers as a “generalist”, Guillemain began differentiating himself by offering mid-century American design by George Nakashima alongside French design from the 1980s by the likes of Martin Szekely. Adding to this are furniture, lighting and ceramics by French and Italian designers from the 1930s onwards.
Guillemain’s diversified approach is plain to see. Nakashima’s furniture is presented alongside a Gino Sarfatti mirror (1971), a lamp and magazine holder (circa 1950) by Mathieu Matégot and Ron Arad’s ‘Bookworm’ bookcase (1993). This eclecticism continues in the nearby showroom on Rue Visconti where tapestries by Alexander Calder and Jean Arp are juxtaposed with furniture by Jean-Michel Sanejouand, Vladimir Kagan and Edward Wormley and lighting by Isamu Noguchi.
Galerie Pierre Arts & Design
Changing career and inaugurating a modern Scandinavian design gallery during a pandemic is not for the faint-hearted. But Pierre Raguideau felt compelled to make his long-held dream come true and opened his space in the Marais in September. “I’ve dreamed of doing this for 30 years,” says Raguideau, who has a background in finance and IT.
Raguideau began collecting mid-twentieth century Scandinavian furniture – the appeal for him being its “real research into modern and organic forms whilst recalling a cabinet-making tradition” – twenty years ago. He had discovered his passion at Galerie Dansk, formerly in the Marais, and at Galerie Dansk Mobelkunst, which closed its Paris outpost last year. As both galleries are now defunct, Raguideau glimpsed a gap in the market: “I thought there was the opportunity to recreate a high-quality gallery with this kind of furniture in the Marais, where the important contemporary art galleries are situated.”
A strong selection of Danish and Norwegian furniture is on view. The pieces include Arne Vodder’s rosewood desk, model 208 (circa 1960), manufactured by Sibast Bureau; Hans Wegner’s wooden chairs, models JH-501 and CH-29 (1950s), manufactured respectively by Johannes Hansen and Carl Hansen; Ole Wanscher’s ‘Senator’ lounge chair (1960s), manufactured by Cado, and Torbjørn Afdal’s teak-and-brass sideboard (early 1960s). French lighting, ceramics and recent landscape-inspired paintings on fabric by the Polish artist Kassia Knap are also on offer.
Radiant: Lumière (é)mouvante at Galerie Maria Wettergren – 121 Rue Vieille du Temple, 75003 Paris. Prices upon request.
Daniela Busarello and Nadège Desgenétez at Galerie Hervé Van Der Straeten – 11 rue Ferdinand Duval, 75004 Paris. Prices for Busarello’s pieces range from €24,000 – €38,000, and for Desgenétez’s pieces €15,000 – €18,000.
Galerie Alexandre Guillemain –18 Rue Guénégaud, 75006 Paris. Prices upon request.
Galerie Pierre Arts & Design – 63 rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris. The price range for furniture is €1,000 – €10,500, and for lighting and small objects is €500 – €1,000.