Ai Weiwei‘s (previously here and here) first exhibition in France is not staged at the Centre Pompidou nor the Palais de Tokyo, but within Paris’s Le Bon Marché, the city’s oldest department store founded in 1852. At its center the exhibition includes 20 illuminated silk and bamboo creatures that float above the cosmetics department, a contradiction of subject matter that Ai embraces as he allows the two vastly different worlds to collide momentarily during his store-bound exhibition.
The show, titled “Er Xi” or “Child’s Play,” is in many ways tied to the artist’s family and childhood. His father, the Chinese poet Ai Qing, passed on stories to Ai of his time spent living and studying art in Paris in the 30s. Thinking about his father’s history within the city, Ai also contemplated his own background with the art of kite making, enlisting 12 kite makers from the Shandong Province in China to build the sculptures from similar materials he used to make his first kite at the age of ten.
In addition to these hanging sculptures, Ai also installed work in the department store’s front windows and throughout the store, including a 65-foot dragon on Le Bon Marché’s ground floor. Weaving together 2D and 3D works, Ai illuminate’s the mythology found in the 2,000 year-old “Shan Hai Jing” (Classic of Mountains and Seas), a series of traditional Chinese children’s fables that reference birds, fish, and dragons.
“Introducing the fantastic within a retail space strikes the imagination of customers, visitors, passersby,” said Ai in a statement. “We all lead parallel lives in this other world of dreams, fantasies and feats. We must learn to coexist with them as they are an integral part of our humanity; to embrace our mythology. Children know how to do this naturally. This exhibition speaks to our inner child,” the artist said in a statement.
“Er Xi” runs at Le Bon Marché in Paris through February 20, 2016. (via Designboom)
Just days before the start of the UN COP21 Climate Conference held in Paris and during the French state of emergency following terrorist attacks earlier this November, 600 posters were covertly distributed and hung within the city. The posters were not taped to poles or distributed in public grounds, but secured behind glass at bus stops around the city. The large-scale posters were advertisement replacements, fake corporate ads designed by 82 artists across 19 countries to satirize messaging found throughout the Parisian streets.
Organized by the Brandalism project, the citywide sweep is meant to challenge the corporate takeover of the Paris climate talks, forming ads that target the link between corporations’ advertising with consumerism, global warming, and fossil fuel consumption. The posters reference many of the climate talks’ corporate sponsors including Air France, Dow Chemicals, GDF Suez (Engie). Many of the Photoshopped images use the same branding and voice as the original advertisement, forcing the audience to take a deeper look at the content of the hundreds of posters dotting their daily commute.
“By sponsoring the climate talks, major polluters such as Air France and GDF-Suez-Engie can promote themselves as part of the solution – when actually they are part of the problem,” said Brandalism’s Joe Elan.
Photographer Sebastian Erras‘s Paris-based project has only one perspective—down. This vantage however, never fails to delight as it is captures the ornate mosaics of Parisian floors, brightly patterned tiles and scenes that exist underfoot. Each shot within Parisian Floors (@parisianfloors) is uniform, a cropped image of Erras’s own shoes and the surrounding tile decorations. This repetitive shot ensures we keep our focus on the tiles, highlighting the exquisite forms that make their way below the photographer’s feet.
Inspiration for the project began when Erras took a trip to Morocco, bringing his love of mosaics back with him to France. Here he became aware of the beautiful floors that graced Paris, coming back to the city with a fresh eye to start his Instagram-focused project.
“After a while being in Paris and wandering around the city, the main attractions and sights become a given,” Erras told Colossal. “Now looking down more often I get to see a whole new side of this city! It has been a good motivation to rediscover Paris again.”
Placing the project on Instagram also allows Erras to map the city of Paris through geotags, building comprehensive map of images and allowing the photographer to see which areas of the city he has yet to discover. (via My Modern Met)
Trying to pin down exactly what makes these urban landscape paintings by British artist Nathan Walsh (previously) so unusual is difficult, in part because of the variety of techniques he employs to get from a vision in his mind to the final, exacting artwork.
Starting with his own photographic references, Walsh first draws an elaborate blueprint of sorts by establishing a horizon line and a host of perspective strategies that varies from piece to piece. This is followed by several months of painting with oils to achieve the final landscape that appears to be a strange hybrid of both illustrative and photorealistic styles. Photography, architecture, and painting converge to create a “painted world which in some ways resembles the world we live in,” says Walsh. “The work aims to create credible and convincing space which whilst making reference to our world, displays its own distinct logic.”
Walsh is currently preparing for a group show titled “Cityscape Paintings: Looking from the Outside In” at Bernarducci Meisel Gallery in October, followed by a solo show during the same period in 2016. You can follow more of his work in progress on Facebook.
Swiss artist Felice Varini (previously) recently opened a new solo exhibition titled “La Villette En Suites” featuring a number of anamorphic projections designed to be viewed from a single location creating an uncanny optical illusion. Varini is fascinated by architecture as backdrop for his artwork and seeks unusual spaces with varying planes of depth for his installations which can grow to be quite dramatic.
The new geometric pieces (which are technically paintings) are installed in both interior and exterior spaces around the Grande halle de la Villette within Parc de la Villette through September 13, 2015. You can see more views of the exhibition on StreetArtNews, and follow Varini directly on Facebook.
A bronze bull head fountain is suddenly transformed into a minotaur. A decrepit corner of an alley becomes a holding pen for ostriches. If any of these odd happenings sound familiar to you, you’re probably living in Paris and have just witnessed the work of French artist Charles Leval (previously). Going by the name Levalet, the artist injects humor into the streets of Paris by gluing animal and human-shaped pasteups onto walls. A lot of thought goes into location too as each piece usually interacts with its environment in one way or another.
Levalet has been updating his site and facebook page with new work he’s created so far in 2015. When not on the streets, Levalet can be found in a classroom (he teaches art) and in a gallery (he held an exhibition late last year at Galerie Geraldine Zberro). “I was looking for places and contexts to operate,” says Levalet, referring to his prime medium: the wall. “The street became a creative space I had to invade.” (via StreetArtNews)
For a photographer living in a major city filled with iconic architecture, museums, and myriad tourist destinations, the struggle to capture an authentic image is great. This was the exact situation photographer Michael Wolf found himself in after moving to Paris from Hong Kong in 2008. Surrounded in a city filled with sights that could easily be interpreted as cliché, Wolf pointed his camera away from the recognizable landmarks and instead focused on the dense rooftops surrounding the city. Packed with stout chimneys, tv antennas, graffiti, and numerous geometric forms, these shots present a strange abstracted view of a usually recognizable place.