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Ionarts Goes to Artparis (Part 1 of 2)

Last year at around this time, I mentioned the contemporary art show here in Paris, called Artparis, which was held then in the Carrousel du Louvre. This fair recently moved its annual date from the fall, when the competition from the FIAC, the Frieze Art Fair, and other shows was too great. This year, Artparis was held in the recently restored edifice of the Grand Palais, the magnificent glass and metal structure along the Seine, as it happens, this past weekend. Globetrotting Ionarts can therefore bring you a report with lots of pictures of what caught our eye there, on Monday afternoon, the last day of the fair.

Artparis 2006, Grand Palais, entranceArtparis 2006, Grand Palais, March 20, 2006

Our liaison with the Artparis press office was not seamless, and just finding the entrance to the show took a circumambulation of the Grand Palais, but it was worth the effort. The location could not be better, the light (a combination of natural and artificial) was beautiful, and the galleries involved, over one hundred of them, brought a mix of older 20th-century works and some of their latest best. In this review, we are pretty much sticking to the latter, anything created since 2000 and preferably in the last year or two.

Wang Du, Herald Tribune, 2005, bronzeThis year, Artparis has experimented with what it calls a "Parcours Sculpture," which is an exhibit of sculpted pieces, often in large format, around the perimeter of the fair, where there are large spaces in the Grand Palais outside of each gallery's normal area. I liked many of the pieces in this part of the show, beginning with Wang Du's bronze Herald Tribune (2005, Collection Guerlain), which is in the shape of a crumpled page of the International Herald Tribune. I liked the whimsy of casting a found object in something like bronze.

There was a lot of work from Arman in this show, from Patrice Trigano. The political punch of these modified statues of Lenin, although obviously dated (Arman did this work in the 1990s), appealed.Arman, Lenin figures, 1993

David Nash, wood pieces, Galerie LelongWood is a fascinating medium that I have always loved. Some time ago, I mentioned the project at Versailles to recycle the trees felled by the big ice storm there into sculpted pieces. David Nash's substantial but not overwhelming wood pieces, shown by Galerie Lelong, have carved and sometimes scored and burned surfaces that are visually appealing. I didn't dare touch them, although I would have liked to do so.

With similar appeal were Christian Lapie's treated oak sculptures (2006), from Alice Pauli in Lausanne. These tall, sacerdotal, mysterious figures have a majestic, tribal quality. Photographs next to the sculptures showed how similar works had been installed, in outdoor settings, where they have a definite ritual appearance.Christian Lapie, treated oak sculptures, 2006, Alice Pauli

Quentin Garel, Bird Skull, 2006, Galleria ForniHow about wood with polychrome? Quentin Garel uses wood to recreate animal heads and skulls, often on grandly exaggerated scale like this huge Bird Skull (2006), propped up on end, from Galleria Forni in Bologna. The realism rendered by Garel's technique is often at odds with the otherworldliness of the scope. Nice effect.

I also loved Quentin Garel's smaller calves' head pieces (also 2006), which reminded me of Georgia O'Keeffe's use of skull images and the work of Damien Hirst, the "sometime shark-pickler and cow-halver." (Those words were penned, alas not by me, but by reviewer Steven Morris in The Guardian.) My admiration for Quentin's work is nothing against his father, Philippe Garel, who teaches and works in Rouen, whose enchanting surrealist assemblages were on exhibit next to these skulls and heads.Quentin Garel, calves' heads, 2006, Galleria Forni

To be continued.

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