contemporary art, exhibition, Porto

A Meditative Visit

1 Liam Gillick, Factories in the

Liam Gillick, Factories in the Snow, Serralves Museum

A large room, flooded by light on the day of my visit. A black Yamaha baby grand piano in the middle, isolated: no bench, no pianist. On the floor, some black dust: was the piano planed down, was its varnish grated, is the dust made of shavings? A melody plays by itself: a vaguely familiar air, obviously played as if by a beginner. Then, after a slow walk down the long access ramp, a closer look: the piano keys are automatically pressed and released, one by one, and, in fact, there is an electronic control unit that commands it all. The –presumed– artificial black snow on the floor does not melt, the –supposed– pianist is not here. As for the audible melody, it is a clumsy interpretation of an emblematic tune of the last European revolution, which took place here, in Portugal: the end of an era, the end of a great hope (even if the air is still sung in Portugal: the government is sometimes “Grandoled). And, to boot, a lozenge of light on the wood floor, and a pretty, smiling museum guard. Continue reading

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Bordeaux, contemporary art, exhibition, film

Alejandro Jodorowsky, Totally

Alejandro Jodorowsky, poster for El Topo, 1970

Alejandro Jodorowsky, poster for El Topo, 1970

The Franco-Chilean artist Alejandro Jodorowsky has so many facets, so many different talents that we can usually only apprehend one fragment or two of his œuvre. For some of us, Jodorowsky is the author of several comic books and graphic novels, including The Incal with his longtime brother-in-arms Mœbius. For others, he is a writer and a poet. For many, he is a figure of contemporary theater, and a mime alongside Marcel Marceau. For most, he is a filmmaker, the author of revolutionary, magical, and unsettling movies (El Topo in particular). For a few esthetes keen on esotericism, he is a Tarot master. Jodorowsky is also one of the few rare artists who are capable of turning Twitter into a poetic medium today. And the list goes on, for instance with his performances-happenings (taking place currently as well) or with his Fabulas Panicas. Continue reading

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contemporary art, exhibition, Paris

Mona Hatoum Under Lock

Mona Hatoum, Keffieh, 1993-99, detail

Mona Hatoum, Keffieh, 1993-99, detail

I have liked the work of Mona Hatoum, a lot and for a long time (the Centre Pompidou is showing her works until September 28): her first daring performances, her empowerment as an Arab women, her use of the body as a working tool and weapon, her brutality and soberness. And in this exhibit, I have been happy to find anew the inspiration that has filled her for so long in some pieces. I am still just as moved by the Keffieh woven with human hair, with its sexual ambiguity and its tension between resistance and ordinariness, just as moved by all the pieces where hair (hers, and other women’s) are rolled, mixed or braided into jewels, ornaments or cloth. Continue reading

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Arles, exhibition, modern art

van Gogh and the Independence of Drawing

Vincent van Gogh, Vieillard buvant du café [Old man drinking coffee], November 1882, 49x28.3cm

Vincent van Gogh, Vieillard buvant du café [Old man drinking coffee], November 1882, 49×28.3cm

The exhibition of drawings by van Gogh at the Fondation van Gogh in Arles, France (visited between two photography exhibitions; running until September, 20) puts an emphasis on a lesser known dimension of the painter, and especially on the first years of his learning how to draw. Rather than becoming classically trained in formal nudes, van Gogh collects prints, cuts out engravings from newspapers, and constitutes reference albums for himself in doing so. For instance, William Small’s etching from his London Sketches, A November Fog (below) creates a sort of floating, equivocal reality through the treatment of the fog, and of the plumes of smoke coming from the torches or the horses’s breaths. Moreover, one can imagine van Gogh being fascinated with the curvilinear and blurred lines of this drawing – in the same way he appreciated Japanese engravings and drawings. Continue reading

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