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Day 362: Get All Artsy Fartsy.


Living in Paris, the art capital of the world (sorry New York), I find that I don't go to as many art openings as I did when I was living in the unassuming LA, where the art scene was exploding. Wanting to get in touch with my inner art-house chick, I jumped at the invitation from my old friend Christophe, a Nice-based art critic to come along to a show at the Backslash Gallery in the Marais that he was writing a review for.

Walking up Rue Notre Dame de Nazareth, with the honey gold glow of the sunset reflecting off the pavement of this uphill street, I saw the silhouette of Christophe waiting outside for me, standing among other art gallery goers taking a smoke break. Art shows make me nervous because I always manage to stand out. I'm too bubbly, loud, and the mounds of Italian girl hair is never chic and sleek in an art setting, only if it's done to be ironic, but there's nothing ironic about my rat's nest. My hot pink dress in a sea of black also didn't help me blend in. 

After our bisous and my American style bear hug attack, Christophe told me that he had taken a peek at the exhibit and was pleased that he was going to write a complimentary article, explaining that there's nothing worse than writing a bad review for an artist who had clearly spent time with an exhibition. I can only imagine. I would be a terrible critic, I think everyone should get a gold star for effort, right?

"At first, I wasn't sure about the exhibit because it has the ambiance of my bathroom" he said, looking at me through his thick black glasses where you can see through the other side that he would be completely blind without them, "But once I saw the show in its entirety, I understood what the artist is trying to convey," Back up, the ambiance of his bathroom? I didn't understand what that meant. Maybe this was "art talk" or a French expression that I wasn't familiar with, so like I always do when I don't understand something in French, I smile, nod and make a confirming sound effect like an "ah", "ah, ouais" or if I'm feeling adventurous, I'll throw an "ah, bon?" out there. I think I did a combo of them all.


So the ambiance of his bathroom meant this:


It wasn't artsy fartsy talk, or an ancient French expression that wasn't taught at Alliance Française, it was literal, Christophe is having work done in his bathroom and there's debris everywhere.  This is the entrance into the show, stepping over chunks of smashed ceramic. Good thing I wore flats.

The show, appropriately called Eidolon, an ancient Greek term meaning apparition was created by the French urban artist Rero, who has developed a concept of phantasms with a suggestion to pop culture. Where his past exhibitions were more reminiscent of a fall-out shelter influenced by his perception of identity, Eidolon is comprised of pieces stemmed from classic imagery integrated into modern ideas that reads like the anxiety one has when struggling between past and present.

We walked through the show and Christophe made his little art critic notes which had us standing at each piece for about ten to twenty minutes as he analyzed the work, jotting down words like rendering, focal point, negative space, and juxtaposition. Words I certainly would not have used to describe the art, and that's why no one is pounding my door down to be an art critic. His descriptions reminded me of a 9th-grade field trip to the Guggenheim, where our art teacher Miss Dundlin was in her element and wore her most eccentric outfit, jeweled cat-eye glasses that day. She kept talking about the exhibit in this annoying whisper that she acquired for the day, and would ask us to do things like "filter in", which just meant come in closer to the painting. I think it was Michelle, our grade's Daria clone slash goth chick who called her out on it, and asked her why she was trying to sound all artsy, then Nathan, our class homie who was really just a rich Jewish boy who had just transferred from Roslyn told our teacher that her ass had just been checked by "The Crow". I loved high school. 

All in all, it was a great night catching up with an old friend,  seeing some art in my neighborhood even if I didn't understand each piece, sipping on Bionade plant flavored soda, and poking fun at myself in my hot pink dress adding it to yet another bull in a china shop story that is my life in Paris.




Sea of Black.

Backslash Gallery
29, rue Notre Dame de Nazareth
75003 Paris
The exhibit runs from May 12th to June 23rd 
6pm to 10pm

4 comments:

  1. Oh! I want to go to an exhibition with an art critic! I don't know enough about art and have always wondered what makes something "good" - at least from a critic's viewpoint. If Christophe's article becomes available online, can you please include a link for it. After seeing your photos, it would be interesting to know his thoughts about the pieces.

    As for velibs - I still haven't worked up my courage to ride a bike through the streets of Paris.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I may have just walked past this at the weekend. I too, had a friend that I haven't seen for months to visit Paris and we started near Shakespeare & Co on Friday then headed over to Oberkampf for drinks and cocktails. When I saw her, we did the huge bear hug thing - the French simply don't do hugs, instead it's mwah... mwah.Sometimes you just want a hug, not air kissing!

    I can't believe your year is nearly up!

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  3. AnonymousMay 14, 2012

    Wow... this post.. I have been missing the art scene BADLY.. It's been almost a year since leaving NYC, and I'm struggling to make art all alone in my apt in Grenoble. It's so hard to find artists here. And interesting openings.. I live and breathe art - so it's been something I've been missing comme fou !

    Instead of obsessing about the NYC scene, I should just get off my ass, out of the Alps, and get to Paris for a week or so to see what's going on! I've been wanting to see the Triennale and the MAtisse show at the Pompidou before they end.. huummmmm... maybe I'll book it for this week or next!

    If you or your art friends know of a good place to go online to find out the openings please let me know! I live for this stuff! I'd really appreciate it.

    Another great post Ella! I haven't been on the blogosphere for a while.. but I am reading your posts as I'm subscribed via email and all. You always inspire me to go ahead and spend the dough to visit Paris.. and now with your artsy fartsy post you've got my appetite going strong .. chuta, me voy !!!

    (pink dress at an art opening .. haha awesome.. how I've done this in NYC.. and your crazy hair sounds so 'ethnic chic' I wish my hair would do something funky )!

    Bises xxxx


    P.S. I studied fine art in college for 5 years.. I still don't always 'get it'. I have a very particular visual taste.. so if something isn't visually appealing to me I pretty much lose interest in a second.. conceptual art is not exactly 'mon truc' unless the artist figures out a way to make it visually interesting in some way. It is 'visual art'.. I love hearing people's opinions through art but damnit make it look good (or make it fun to experience)!

    ReplyDelete
  4. AnonymousMay 14, 2012

    Wow... this post.. I have been missing the art scene BADLY.. It's been almost a year since leaving NYC, and I'm struggling to make art all alone in my apt in Grenoble. It's so hard to find artists here. And interesting openings.. I live and breathe art - so it's been something I've been missing comme fou !

    Instead of obsessing about the NYC scene, I should just get off my ass, out of the Alps, and get to Paris for a week or so to see what's going on! I've been wanting to see the Triennale and the MAtisse show at the Pompidou before they end.. huummmmm... maybe I'll book it for this week or next!

    If you or your art friends know of a good place to go online to find out the openings please let me know! I live for this stuff! I'd really appreciate it.

    Another great post Ella! I haven't been on the blogosphere for a while.. but I am reading your posts as I'm subscribed via email and all. You always inspire me to go ahead and spend the dough to visit Paris.. and now with your artsy fartsy post you've got my appetite going strong .. chuta, me voy !!!

    (pink dress at an art opening .. haha awesome.. how I've done this in NYC.. and your crazy hair sounds so 'ethnic chic' I wish my hair would do something funky )!

    Bises xxxx


    P.S. I studied fine art in college for 5 years.. I still don't always 'get it'. I have a very particular visual taste.. so if something isn't visually appealing to me I pretty much lose interest in a second.. conceptual art is not exactly 'mon truc' unless the artist figures out a way to make it visually interesting in some way. It is 'visual art'.. I love hearing people's opinions through art but damnit make it look good (or make it fun to experience)!

    ReplyDelete