Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew.

Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew. © Photo: Gert-Jan van Rooij.

Navigation is the first solo exhibition of Lennart Lahuis at Dürst Britt & Mayhew, in The Hague. The work of this Dutch artist spans diverse media and reference points: the work’s aesthetic practice holds on the transformation of imagery, and studies the suspension of visual information and physical touch.

A systematic mapping has taken over the gallery space: a large-scale work entitled Room2Rooms (2012-2013), made of transparent foil and wood, seems to function as a division point for the gallery, helping the visitor to navigate through the exhibition. The gaze is instantly drawn towards this piece, when its reflective silvered surface delivers the feeling of unattainable, yet at the same time constructing a presence with an immediate gravity. A myriad of layers consisting of transparent plastic foil has been added on a background made of wood: this gesture unfolds almost an endless replica, and the initial transparency develops into its opposite. The result is a surface that doesn’t seem to provide any access, with a mirrored image reflecting the visitor.

This work offers an optical dialogue with the piece in the middle of the gallery floor, entitled Wet Scene Study no. IV (2015) made of water on stone, a work that seems to dissolve somewhere on the gallery’s concrete floor. This is a part of his ongoing series Wet Scenes, which takes the form of liquid paintings: for this work, the artist has borrowed literary extracts from different contexts, proposing thus stories with situated knowledge in the gallery space. The elements create a complimentary whole: simultaneously, when the stone as a background suggests pressure and weight, the water ends up lingering at the brink of absence, with its evaporation through time. Respectively, the work draws also the attention on the importance of touch, or its suspension: the disappearing words bear the fragility, when its union with the stone is rather an ephemeral and limited one.

Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew.

Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew. © Photo: Gert-Jan van Rooij.


Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew.

Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew. © Photo: Gert-Jan van Rooij.


Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew.

Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew. © Photo: Gert-Jan van Rooij.

Keen to experiment with different techniques, Lahuis’ most recent series of work focuses on the process of transforming imagery. For this work, the artist has selected several standard reproductions of images, ones coming with picture frames and serving as examples: this type of model images depicting sunsets, cityscapes and reproductions of famous artworks are meant to be instantly replaced by the buyer’s own visual choice. The artist has approached these images with a reversed technique, by applying wax and paper on glass: the atypical order between image and paper resulting from the technique establishes an ensemble where the image is drawn back, creating thus a certain distance and inaccessibility for the viewer.

For Navigation, the artist has concentrated on standard models displaying different measuring devices, for example images featuring grids on architectural facades and compasses. In parallel, the choice to work also with reproductions of renowned art works creates an interesting layer: both of these themes seem easily disposable when placed in standard frames. In Lahuis’ work, the relationship between images representing traditional, or more commercial visual culture and the ones coming from personal selection, is put forward in an intriguing way. Moreover, the artist’s interest towards the presence of digital media unfolds in this series, when printed material with physically layered information has served as a starting point: a careful recomposition of pictorial elements stands as a result, while the hyperdensity of the original prints drifts into cooler temperatures. In order to gain access to the suggested visual information and communication contained in this work, the viewer is invited to slow down and to contemplate the imagery in an indirect way.

In his work, Lahuis opens the door for the unexpected, when working extensively on the texture itself: respectively, the material sees itself transformed into a medium. The exhibition reveals how the technique used by Lahuis imposes a certain distance, while proposing a meditation behind the façade with its impalpable surface. At the end, Navigation suggests a route to be followed, with a crossroads where the physical space and the navigating body confront each other.

Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew.

Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew. © Photo: Gert-Jan van Rooij.


Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew.

Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew. © Photo: Gert-Jan van Rooij.


Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew.

Courtesy of the artist and Dürst Britt & Mayhew. © Photo: Gert-Jan van Rooij.

Lennart Lahuis (1986, Hengelo) graduated from the Artez Institute of the Arts in Zwolle in 2011. In 2010 he attended LUCA School of Arts in Brussels. From 2011 to 2013 he was a resident at de Ateliers in Amsterdam. Recent exhibitions include Prospects and Concepts in the Van Nelle Fabriek in Rotterdam, Asleep Finger in Kunstraum Düsseldorf and False Light at Apice for Artists in Amsterdam. Lennart Lahuis currently lives and works in Paris.

Navigation on view until May 23.

Dürst Britt & Mayhew

Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.

Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.

Welcome to our show is the title of the latest solo exhibition of Dorothy Iannone at Air de Paris. The exhibition gathers together an extensive body of work, spanning from the 1960’s until our days: this partly retrospective look allows to discover how her artistic, yet highly personal narrative has evolved throughout the decades.

Iannone is a multidisciplinary artist: her variegated activities include painting, drawing, films, sculptures and books. The loves and life of this 82-year old American artist is unfolded through her work: themes of erotic love and sexuality between women and men and the idea of an ecstatic unity are important themes for Iannone. Most of her works reveal a figure of a woman next to a man, depicted in erotic ways, yet their union is joyful and equal. An ornament-like approach is revealed in the work’s approach to bodily expressions: visual stimuli and inspiration seem to be drawn from her several trips outside Europe.

Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.

Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.


Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.

Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.

As expected, her work doesn’t propose a soft meditational approach in the gallery space: there is an edgy tingle present, it feels like the artist herself would be physically implicated in this encounter. The retrospective approach creates an interesting layer in the exhibition, allowing the visitor to move away from the immediate surroundings, and respectively, abolishing the generational reserve. It’s not too late to remember who I am is written on one her major pieces right at the entrance of the exhibition: this is a part of the work aptly entitled An Explosive Interlude (1979), which particularly delves into the beginning of an emerging relationship that she was bound to construct with Berlin, after having moved there in the 1970’s.

A self-taught painter, the work of Dorothy Iannone is assured of its own rightness. From an early work Wiggle your ass for me (1970-1971), a large-scale painting unfolding her interest in the figure of Eros, to a more recent acrylic painting Luminous (2012), the works constitute joyful figurations with spasms of joy, constantly on the move. These works unfold an altar for joy and fertility, celebrating and revolting within the white gallery walls. At first, it seems like if the artist has brought the exotic near the visitors, but at the end it reveals to be its opposite: instinctive feelings such as sexuality, are rendered exotic and celebrated.

Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.

Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.


Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.

Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.

Despite the highly self-narrative approach, Iannone also borrows elements from political climate, calling for sexual emancipation and freedom of speech. In the past, the explicitly sexual content of her work drew frequently the attention of authorities and thus faced censorship problems; such was the case of the exhibition Friends organized at Bern Kunsthalle in 1969.

Iannone’s work echoes extensively the themes of popular culture. Her recent work Lolita dating from 2009, made of gouache and acrylic paper on wood, takes a reflective yet playful way when treating the question of sexual roles and figures known through popular culture: this is the same artist who successfully sued the United States government on behalf of several of Henry Miller’s books censored in the U.S.A. to allow their importation into the country. The exhibition reveals to be more than a collection of personal experiences by leaving her works open-ended. Certainly, some of her works follow time-bound models of eroticism and emancipation, being linked to a certain historical mood. Nevertheless, the whole is an ensemble that is fluctuating and bound to evolve in our days: this narrative praxis filled with euphoria and sensorial understanding feels more than welcome these days, dominated by clinical corporate aesthetics in visual arts.

Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.

Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.

Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.

Courtesy of the artist and Air de Paris.

Born in Boston in 1933, Dorothy Iannone lives and works in Berlin. Her first solo show at Air de Paris She Is A Freedom Fighter was organized in 2007, and in 2009 the New Museum presented Lioness, her first one-person show in the United States. Her mixed media work I Was Thinking Of You was included in the 2006 Whitney Biennial. She has recently had major retrospectives, notably at the Camden Art Centre in London (2013), the Berlinische Galerie in Berlin (2014) and the Migros Museum in Zurich (2014). Many monographs have been devoted to her work, among them the recent «You Who Read Me With Passion Now Must Forever Be My Friends», which focuses in particular on the textual aspect of her oeuvre.

Welcome to our show on view until May 16.

Air de Paris

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Painting, Painting is the latest exhibition at Peep-Hole in Milan and it is the first solo show in Italy of artist Ull Hohn, with an intervention by Tom Burr. The show retrospectively collects some of Hohn’s works completed between the second-half of the eighties to the first half of the nineties, until he prematurely died at the age of 35. Hohn attended the prestigious Düsseldorf Academy of Art with Gerhard Richter and then left Germany to move to New York, where he attended the “Whitney Independent Study Program.” Here he was “thrown” into a quite different context where artists were experimenting with multiple media and post-modern practices, and where a second wave of institutional critique was developing.

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

The exhibition shows a range of works of the artist with no chronological order, but perhaps with the intent of studying the work in its whole. Demonstrated by his extreme and long-lasting faithfulness to painting, Hohn’s oeuvre attempts to revitalise this medium. It is striking to see how different in their technique, methodology and subjects these works are and at the same time it is also interesting to acknowledge how painting was being interpreted by Hohn, almost as an excise moulded in some cases into figurative precision, some other times into experimentation and abstraction.

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Infant (1988) is one of the works which better recalls the relation with Gerhard Richter in the style and in the photographic source. It is part of sequence of paintings which reproduces the image of an infant in slightly different positions. A complete series shown in the exhibition is Untitle (Nine Landscapes), which is completed with nine small paintings on wooden boxes, that the artist realised for the final exhibition at the Whitney Independent Study Program in 1988. Here, again a reference to his master at school, but also a re-elaboration in a multilayered and contemporary language of pieces of XIX century landscape paintings borrowed from the Brooklyn Museum and the Metropolitan.

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

A completely different style in painting is the series titled Joy of Painting: some almost decorative images of woods and small cottages, that could be easily found on the walls of modest peripheral homes or be the average result of an evening craft-class. This series was realised following the homonymous TV programme by American painter Bob Ross, who became well-known for teaching his viewers how to paint. And at the same time it is also sign of the conceptual influence that the New York period has had on the artist’s practice, in fact, the irony of “learning how to paint” decorative images on TV is balanced with the extreme meticulousness of his approach to this series. It becomes then also a sophisticated implicit critique to what painting had become in the nineties, discarded perhaps from other “more influential” media privileged in those years.

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Another trace of the influence of the US period is found in the series Pattern paintings (1986-1987) where Hohn, effected by the political and social activism of the city, begins to express his homosexuality representing phallic figures. Untitled (Off the Wall) elaborates a more intimate relation with the male body, where the series of paintings finds its source in photographs taken to artist’s partner and the opacity created by the use of multiple stratification of color on the images increases the intimacy of this relation.

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

The central room in the space is instead dedicated to Revisions a series of works started and worked on between 1993 and 1995, until Hohn prematurely died due to AIDS related causes. It is not sure how consciously in this part of his life he was preparing for his departure; however, this series represents his retrospective eye on his past work, a kind of process of self-awareness and an autobiographical attempt, as if he wanted to close his cycle of painting. In this period, in fact, he began to reproduce some subjects that he had completed in his early years, which stands for a proof of the time passed in painting and painting again. It is then a self-reflection on his formal research, which is considered almost as an exercise to be completed and to rehearse, perhaps even a cure. The heterogeneity of Hohn’s practice is a sign of how he has receipted the great changes occurred in the art world at the end of the last century, and of how it also affected his personal practice.

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

The exhibition Painting, Painting is completed by the some installations by Tom Burr who used to share a studio with Hohn. The conception of these installations starts from Burr’s memory of having a thin wall separating his part and Hohn’s part of the studio. These installations play with the space in creating fractures that obstruct and hide the sight of some of the hanged works and, as a metaphor, walls are an articulation of limits. As an agent of both distance and intimacy, they suggest a private relation with the exhibited works, which is important to observe and consider Hohn’s practice not merely as a stylistic exercise.

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Installation view at Peep-Hole Milan, 2015

Peep Hole 

Courtesy of the artist and Marsèlleria. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of the artist and Marsèlleria. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Form the 10th of April Siliqoon’s show Pure Disclosure opened its doors at Marsèlleria in Milan, with works by Alessandro Agudio, Daniel Keller, Andrea Magnani and Timur Si-Qin. The exhibition is the result of the experience the artists shared at Casa Natali/MAMbo and Spazio RAUM in Bologna, under the coordination of Siliqoon, one year ago. Much interesting are art phenomenons that really go out of the exclusive art circle to the society, like the trend forecasting group based in New York K-HOLE or the digital media platform DIS Magazine. Hearing about Italy-born Siliqoon raises the same appeal. Siliqoon proposes itself as an art label and a creative consulting agency, with an exportable format. The young contemporary artists included – like Alessandro Agudio, Ian Ball, Enrico Boccioletti, Daniel Keller, Andrea Magnani, Timur Si-Qin – work closely in a collaboration with a few selected artisan manufacturers for the materials and the production of their pieces in a back-to-the-future process, starting from childish memories of going to see the procedures of making during some school trip to materializing the union of international minds working under a shared aesthetic sensibility and approach regarding the complex processes of the visual culture and its fruition.

Courtesy of the artist and Marsèlleria. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of the artist and Marsèlleria. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of the artist and Marsèlleria. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of the artist and Marsèlleria. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

In the ground floor’s room of Marsèlleria the first work to be checked is Daniel Keller’s Seastead Figures (Polypool), 2015. Showing his artistic interest for the relationships between technology and economy, mannequins wear his produced biotex – technical material typically in use for cyclists’ sportswear – underwear, styled by Ella Plevin. The texture is made of waved tagclouds, revealing Keller’s obsession for online reality and its new original and autonomous languages that characterize the digital generation. The other well researched displayed elements are in communication with the organic material Spirulina Platensis, living its life and changes during the exhibition’s time. An ironic visual poetry about geopolitical effects putted on a match with corporations generating value. In the same room are exhibited Timur Si-Qin’s Display (Peace), 2015 and Untitled, 2015. His research on the power of hyper commercial environments, translated into consumption, and the relative poster designing’s world is in the occasion represented by a mountains’ stock image of UV coating on microperforated mesh framed by LED and plexiglass and with the original Peace logo of his work Premier Machinic Funerary. This is shown together with a romantic 3D print of a bundle of lilies, as the organic counterposed by the persistence of petrochemical reproductions.

Courtesy of the artist and Marsèlleria. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of the artist and Marsèlleria. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of the artist and Marsèlleria. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of the artist and Marsèlleria. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Upstairs, Alessandro Agudio’s Forever (grave) feat. Summer Katie Fox, 2015, collects decorative objects hyperreal as much as improbable laying on a fake marble base as a tomb for them. Summer Katie Fox created a Whitney Houston-like ambient music for this attractive corpse scene. Alien components of a shower’s floor, a meringue-colored ceramic cat small as a bird together with pastel-pale vase and plant and an urn watch the spectators with apathy. Agudio’s imaginary comes from a critic eye on the lifestyles of the 70s and 80s Western middle class, specifically in the North of Italy where he raised. Alessandro Agudio was born in 1982 in Milan. He lives and works in Milan. Alessandro worked with Aida Bertozzi, Euromec, Serilegno, Martino Tremolada designer, Nuove Residency and OMGB. Daniel Keller was born in 1986 in Detroit. He lives and works in Berlin. Daniel worked with Biotex. Andrea Magnani was born in 1983 in Faenza. He lives and works in Milan. Andrea worked with Bikun, Euromec, Myver and Fabric Division. Timur Si-Qin was born in 1984 in Berlin. He lives and works in Berlin. Timur worked with Lualma Anodica, Pubbligraf, Serilegno and Studio Pedrini.

Marsèlleria Permanent Exhibition, domicile of Maison Marsèll, is a a multi-disciplinary platform conceiving the style as a global culture practice, following the fil rouge between artists, organization and place sought by Siliqoon.

Siliqoon

Marsèlleria 

Before entering the project room of the Parisian gallery Chez Valentin to see the latest group exhibition You will find me if you want me in the garden, I take a quick look at the press release. A short presentation of Epicureanism is included, a school also known as “The Garden”. The main idea behind this philosophy was to reach the state of tranquility: Epicurus himself believed that the highest good in life is pleasure (!δον) and that only the senses are true and infallible and should therefore be cared for constantly. These ideas vaguely going through my mind I enter the space, to see how the curator behind the exhibition, Domenico de Chirico, has turned this idea upside down in a playful way: through a coherent visual selection of the works, the exhibition translates and adopts the idea of a garden, or that of tranquility, pleasure and sensibility, into a logic-driven language of the 21st century.

© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris

© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris


© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris

© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris

Sleek surfaces are dominating the overall look of the space, which seems like a promise of serenity. I directly lay my eyes on a woman figure, which is occupying the center of the gallery floor: in my mind, a female figure sitting in a garden refers inevitably to the idea of fertility and sexuality. However, this work of a Danish artist Simon Dybbroe Moller, entitled Sporting #3 (2013), reveals to be a mannequin, sprayed concrete together with her baseball mats. Immediately, thanks to this figure, devoid of any expression, I begin to observe the exhibition in a different way. Placed right next to Moller’s work, The Metaphysics of the Runner (2014) is to be found: this work of Pakui Hardware, made in collaboration with Jeannine Han, consists of clothing made of synthetic fabric, reworked with acrylic. The shirt is hanging from the roof; pants are casually placed on the chair. This layout constitutes a straightforward gesture together with the title: through an almost careless composition, the work retraces not only the physical pleasure and its achievement, but also its strong union with the signification process that is created through visually attractive design.

© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris

© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris


© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris

© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris

A garden can also be understood as a space free of all anxiety: it’s a source of growth and vitality. These ideas are turned around in the work of Carson Fisk-Vittori, whose work Sponsored by Aide, An, Asiaq, Dodola, Mari, Pakhet, Saranya, Tamar, Tempestas (2015), a print on dibond, puts bluntly forward the question on the relationship between the world of consumerism and marketing on the one hand, and the quest for pleasure on the other hand. The work constitutes a repetition of images and words, which reminds us of a marketing language, that of logos and sponsorships. However, these names present actually names of goddesses of weather, against a leaf-like print, reminding us of vitality and growth, yet in an extremely glossy way.

© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris

© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris


© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris

© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris

Next to this, a work entitled Company (2012) of Ditte Gantriis is on display: an A-print and oil sticks on poly banner, continues the sheer aesthetics that is occupying the space. Here once again, through a digitally processed imagery, a publicity-driven image of a garden is at the reach of our hands. However, it is only a flat banner, whose role is to hide or reveal: the garden is only a distant idea on this white, clean surface. Right beneath it, we can find the works of Spencer Longo, entitled Mud Dynasty (Fennel and Fresh Laundry and Fennel and Flowers), both works dating from 2015. With different materials, the artist has constructed reminiscent of candles, using portable spittoons and scented wax. With a combination of these highly contrary elements, the work puts forward an idea of a hide-and-seek. A complementary layer to the exhibition is presented through the work of Alessandro Agudio: the work of this Milanese artist, Kaleenji (2012), made of resin, iron and toulipier wood, seems to find its place, with its persuading sleek surface, somewhere between design and object-fetishism. The medium here is a customized training board for climbing, which seems as a highly abstract object as such: the idea is to use meticulous objects to illustrate the appreciation that we have for them as status symbols, while their usage is left in parenthesis. This is how Agudio retraces a new kind of domestic scenery, and ends up observing the determining role of design while constructing a certain lifestyle.

© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris

© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris


© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris

© Photo : Sylvie Chan-Liat / Courtesy of the artist and Valentin, Paris

The exhibition points out the conditionality in which we find ourselves today: abstract words such well-being, performance and quality, construct in an active way an impersonal public narrative. We get easily hung up on artificial texture of things and surfaces, while commercial language has become part of our self-understanding. A garden, a pre-determined space for serenity and vitality per se, turns out to be in the exhibition indebted to corporate determined aesthetics, where additional devices are needed in the quest for pleasure. At the end, it seems it is to be found underneath sleek surfaces, with constant, yet very subtle innuendos of primary elements.

You will find me if you want me in the garden on view at Galerie Chez Valentin until May 16.

Together with: Alessandro AGUDIO, Stefania BATOEVA, Sol CALERO, Simon DYBBROE MØLLER,
Carson FISK-VITTORI, Ditte GANTRIIS, Pakui HARDWARE (in collaboration with Jeannine HAN), Daniel KELLER, Spencer LONGO, Matthew SMITH, Anna VIRNICH, Andrew NORMAN WILSON.

The cycle of events at The Art Markets, where we ask artists to present a new work with a djset, goes on. In this occasion, we are presenting Lucia Leuci’s: Rose’s Portrait.

Photo Carmen Mitrotta, courtesy of the artist and The Art Markets

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Rose is not pink. She is a romantic girl, in fact, one morning while soaking a biscuit in her cappuccino, she felt touched. A tear went into the cup, diluting the contents in a lighter shade. Therefore she decided to change her foundation shade. She then updated her white iPhone, and now she can send emoticons with different skin tones to all her friends. She eats Chinese food at the all you can eat, and she often wears lycra tight clothes.

Emojis-diverseRose can not stand loose hair because the wind paste them on her lipgloss. It sometimes happens that she lacks of concentration while studying, she gets lost drawing pretty tits. Over the weekend she is working as a nanny for the neighbors and she loves when the children cover her arms with their removable tattoos. Before falling asleep she brushes her teeth with jasmin mint toothpaste dancing in front of the mirror. Rose is Rose.

Photo Carmen Mitrotta. Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Courtesy of Lucia Leuci and The Art Markets. Photo Carmen Mitrotta

Text & work Lucia Leuci

When visiting Julie Béna’s solo exhibition Destiny at Galerie Édouard-Manet de Gennevilliers, an absurd feeling of flatness takes over right from the beginning: the gallery has been transformed into a reminiscent of an office space, whose aesthetics is predominantly borrowed from the turn of the millennium. A carpet with geometric shapes and figures against a grey background is occupying the floor, leading the visitor to discover Béna’s introduction to corporate world, with a body of work solely conceived for the gallery space. With her exhibition Destiny, this French artist reveals to be faithful to her previous production, that is, finding inspiration from the world of theatre and popular culture, simultaneously transforming and disturbing spatial forms and codes.

This false reality, by definition a corporate one this time, starts right from the entry. As if introducing to a corporate zone, we can find a large TV screen on the wall welcoming the visitor, displaying a conversation between Miss None and Mister Peanut. An absurd exchange between the two cartoonish-like characters takes place, however, it is deprived of meaning and logic: words are pronounced and repeated, forming an attempt for a dialogue. Yet, the identities are blurred, or rather, they don’t exist.

Courtesy of Joseph Tang gallery, Paris. Exhibition “Destiny”, EMBA / Galerie Édouard Manet, Gennevilliers.


Courtesy of Joseph Tang gallery, Paris. Exhibition “Destiny”, EMBA / Galerie Édouard Manet, Gennevilliers.

A large office desk occupies the second room of the gallery: this is presumably the main office space. Its design – this seems to be the apt term to employ in this context – is dominated by the use of steel and glass. Respectively, sharpness and precision, even sterility are the dominating visual stimuli: the space reminds me of a perfect composition of an office decor taken afresh from a sales catalogue, one intended for enterprises. A perfect composition reigns in the space together with a cold and bright lighting guiding the vision: here you can’t find any coffee stains nor piles of papers waiting to be organised. Functionality and freshness could be suitable terms to use here, however, perhaps it is exactly for this reason that the space feels primarily flat and empty.

This lack of flavour with a certain clinical approach is further enhanced by the vinyl labels found on glass plates. Eyes are able to spell letters composing words, yet their selection seems somewhat arbitrary. This supplementary gesture allows us to contemplate on what is left for linguistic symbols when removed from their initial context. The same goes for the space’s interior design: what happens when material symbols and even entire spaces are removed from their original composition and then reselected, cut, copied and assembled in a new framework? This compositional style of Béna continues in the last room of the gallery: a plexiglass divides the space, whose starting point is indicated with a symbol of a hand glued on the floor. Once again the letters form the word destiny.

Courtesy of Joseph Tang gallery, Paris. Exhibition “Destiny”, EMBA / Galerie Édouard Manet, Gennevilliers.


Courtesy of Joseph Tang gallery, Paris. Exhibition “Destiny”, EMBA / Galerie Édouard Manet, Gennevilliers.

A certain internet awareness is legible in Béna’s work: her aesthetic vocabulary finds its inspiration from the world wide web, while using the components of a digital collage. Despite these multiple layers of symbols and references constructing the puzzle, much is left unsaid: entire holes and symbols of insignificance can be traced throughout the exhibition. There are parts and pieces missing, or rather, they’re unknown. The artist plays extensively with spatial and temporal conditions, disturbing and challenging them, at the same time offering the potential for multiple fictions to be invented and various roles to be fulfilled. Here, a sole collection of individual portraits is not interesting, it is the whole pattern that characters, events and spaces knotted together form – a potential definition for the word destiny, or alternatively, Destiny.

Béna’s way of treating the space is like looking at an uncharted territory and imaginary beyond, while the time span is strongly overlapping, even disappearing. The artist plays successfully with the idea of ordinary and expected, transforming these notions towards extraordinary and spectacular, and treats the question of mise-en-scène in a sculptural way. Here the strategic choice of corporate environment is particularly interesting: being by definition a parapublic space, the question on the role reserved for visitors is left unanswered. Thus, the question lingers, whether we are invited to play an active role against the corporate background, or does the set-up rely solely on posthumanist mindset.

Courtesy of Joseph Tang gallery, Paris. Exhibition “Destiny”, EMBA / Galerie Édouard Manet, Gennevilliers.

Courtesy of Joseph Tang gallery, Paris. Exhibition “Destiny”, EMBA / Galerie Édouard Manet, Gennevilliers.

Julie Béna studied fine arts the Villa Arson in Nice, France, and at the Royal Academy of Arts in Brussels, Belgium. She has exhibited at the Palais de Tokyo, Fondation Calouste Gulbenkian and Display Art Projects in Paris, Song Eun Art Space in Seoul, Korea, at Nettie Horn in London, Fonderie Darling in Montréal, and was a resident at Le Pavillon at the Palais de Tokyo in 2012-2013.

Julie Béna

Galerie Édouard-Manet

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