Mariano Fortuny - Palais Galliera by Araso

Mariano Fortuny: silk for the gods

In more than a century of fashion, nothing came close to defying the fabric’s supreme luxury. We owe Mariano Fortuny a unique holistic artistic approach, which gave birth to one of Venice’s most sumptuous palace. Painting, panelling, sculpture, embroidery, textile dance together the song of art and science in an orgy of beauty.

To close Paris Fashion Week, Palais Galliera opens its new exhibition, Fortuny, a Spaniard in Venice. The monastic ambiance of the show along with a refined scenography appear to clash with a hyperactive Fortuny, curious of everything and holder of multiple patents.


The Hellenics, starring the Delphos dress, the Knossos shawl and their likes have made history. Glorified by Marcel Proust, they sit there as silent witnesses of the past. The minimalistic environment is the scenery of a well-documented, researched typology, ranging from Venice to the East.

Palais Gallaiera’s latest show will most certainly prove appealing to purists and other foes of extravaganza.

Fortuny, a Spaniard in Venice, from October 4th 2017 to January 7th 2018 at Palais Galliera.

Visuals © Araso ADAGP

Damien Hirst Palazzo Grassi (c) Araso

Damien Hirst knows how to build a brand

With his current exhibition at Palazzo Grassi in Venice, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, Damien Hirst positions himself not only as a visual artist whose creativity blossoms in many ramifications but as an expert in story-telling

The concept is rooted in a real legend: the tale of Cif Amotan II, an emancipated slave of the Roman empire. His fortune made, he gathered his wealth amongst which an army of artworks and artefacts and loaded it on his boat the Apistos. The ship wrecked whilst sailing towards a temple where the collector intended to store his treasure. 

Damien Hirst, Demon with Bowl, Palazzo Grassi, Venezia

In the show, it’s incredibly hard to tell the true from he fake : from the Demon with Bowl, an 18-metre high resin sculpture of a giant without a head, supposedly a copy of an original piece found onboard, to the wonderfully detailed documentaries, everything is larger than life.

Damien Hirst, Andromeda and the Sea Monster, Palazzo Grassi, Venezia
Damien Hirst, Andromeda and the Sea Monster, Palazzo Grassi, Venezia

Next to hyper realistic piece, a seashell Mickey amongst other works sets the visitor thinking. Damien Hirst follows the logic endlessly with copies of fakes and fakes of fakes.

Damien Hirst, Mickey, Palazzo Grassi, Venezia
Damien Hirst, Mickey, Palazzo Grassi, Venezia

A stroke of genius, the exhibition attracts growing crowds and has already become viral. DNA, indefinitely declinable codes, an element from the past, a glamorous character and the treasure hunt as a hook : all of the ingredients for success are aboard this ship. 

Contact us for a more detailed analysis.

Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, at Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana in Venice, until December 3rd  2017  

Images © Araso and Mathieu Dochtermann

Love of Grandeur

pascALEjandro is the artistic fusion of Pascale and Alejandro Jodorowsky, the « perfect alchemical androgynous », a combination of the best of femininity and masculinity. As close as it may sound to Barjavel’s The Ice People, the concept has given birth to a prolific artistic collaboration, of which the backstage is being unveiled. There is no way around their special wedding announcement that summarizes in itself the beauty and megalomania of the project.

To love is to create something together

@Galerie Azzedine Alaia
@Galerie Azzedine Alaia

Images (Happy End, La veuve, Sous le sable…) and film excerpts (Poesìa sin Fin, La Danza de la Realidad) are as fascinating on a psychoanalytical level as they are strong and moving, one of Jodorowsky’s trademarks. The feminine figure is both caring and threatening by turns, like in Picasso’s work, whereas man oscillates between the cherish child and the hunted animal. Entire parts of the exhibition including Le poids du passé, Allegria !, Allegria !, Allegria ! break away like particules of Dune. 

It is not love that unites us, you and I were united before we were born

@Galerie Azzedine Alaia
@Galerie Azzedine Alaia

One enters the den feeling like a distinguished guest called in with great simplicity to decipher creative intimacy, as one reads tarot cards.

The Azzedine Alaïa Gallery exhibits PascALEjandro’s work, Alchemical Androgynous, until July 9th 2017 everyday from 11 am to 7 pm. Free entrance – 18 rue de la Verrerie, 75004 Paris

Visuels @Galerie Azzedine Alaia

Bertrand Lavier is the voice of contemporary art

In 800 Signs

It’s growing increasingly difficult to discuss contemporary art without mentioning Bertrand Lavier at one point or another. A little bit like the coats rack that Marcel Duchamp kept stumbling upon to the point he finally decided to nail it to the floor. The afore mentioned object, Trébuchet (Trap) is currently exhibited at La Monnaie in Paris where only a few months ago Bertrand Lavier’s solo show Merci Raymond took place (read on in French).

Why some keep on denying him France’s representation at the Venice Biennale remains to this day an unravelled mystery. Let’s move on to the meagre consolation that the artist will only be more available to fully explore other creative leads.

More Signs

There are several ways to explore his show, A cappella, at Almine Rech’s Gallery in Paris until April 15th.

Let’s opt for a first tour of the premises, rough and ready, devoid of any codes. It consists in wandering randomly through the works, driven by chance within the limits of our own intuition. Here, the coarsely shaped plaster statue, a corpulent silhouette in-between a Niki de Saint Phalle and a golem. There, two 170cm high stone columns, rather common except for two majors details both anachronic and antinomic: are those incrusted car lights?!

The following room is home to the first two copies of a strange series made of sinusoidal lines. We find out it’s Walt Disney Productions, a lineage started in 2017. Facing a triplet of monochromes (a heresy? a rupture in style?) signal panels announcing nearby points of interest : Paysages Aixois (landscapes of Aix) and Sombernon. If one can wonder whether in real life (meaning outside of MuCEM) they are likely to bump into a real signal for a paysage aixois, they get even more puzzled that a town with such an obscure name might exists except for a failed pun (“Sombre” meaning “dark” and “nom” meaning “name” in French). But still…

Let’s dare to take another look: the plate available from the gallery’s reception desk turns out to be a precious tool. Indeed, the Holy Graal reveals the titles of the exhibited works, an essential component of Bertrand Lavier’s art. And then we hear it: our own laughter reverberating on the white immaculate walls of the gallery.

The third walk-through takes us to the next level –if it were still necessary. The one where the passenger can fully enjoy the ride.

The statue of the lady with questionable proportions is la Venus d’Amiens, which Palais de Tokyo had already showcased in 2016 seizing the opportunity to interview the artist about the genesis of the piece. The original Venus, found in Amiens’ Rénancourt neighbourhood, is 24000 years old. It was found in 19 pieces. The fact called out to Lavier : « I could have stepped on it without noticing there was a sculpture ». Compelled by the photograph of this statue on the verge of becoming « a small heap of pebbles », he sets his mind on conducting an experiment and confront the archeological discovery with sculpture. He made it bigger and amplified selected details. To get it done, Lavier first contemplated a very contemporary material, something that would be very 21th century. Seeing a sculpture by Courbet whilst he was visiting Ornans’s museum made Lavier change his mind: his Venus would be made of plaster. All of a sudden it seemed like stating the obvious; plaster was the sole material that would make his Venus a model just like classics such as Milo’s Venus, whilst making it unarguably contemporary. The selected material enables a «compression in time of 24000 years» Lavier says. «It’s an upside-down world. Great sculptures end up in plaster, the Venus of Amiens starts in plaster».

Bertrand Lavier, La Venus d'Amiens, 2016
Bertrand Lavier, La Venus d’Amiens, 2016

Here is the visitor faced with the columns again: Colonne Lancia and Colonne Ford. Inspired by ready-made and archeology excavations, they stand for a response to the whilst establishing a dialog with hypothetical extraterrestrials looking for tokens of life on Earth. The two totemic figures recall pagan cults as much as the brand mythology phenomena. Once again, this compressed notion of time tackles the issue of the rise of religions, the articulation of their symbols and their rooting into collective consciousness.

Bertrand Lavier, Colonne Lancia et Colonne Ford, 2017
Bertrand Lavier, Colonne Lancia et Colonne Ford, 2017

Here come the monochromes : Bleu de Cobalt Foncé, Jaune de Cadmium, Vert de Cobalt. The complete series is a 2017 production. From a distance, they are just monochromes in thick layers of paint, a typical Lavier pattern except that the underlying object is missing. Take a closer look and there is no such thing. Underneath the paint applied in coarse layers, there are, ab initio, the customary painted objects. Bertrand Lavier has indeed painted over the  original photography of the painted object, in the very exact tone of its ascendance, thus creating the ultimate trompe l’œil, self-produced by the magic of the synecdoche effect -or through a Russian doll phenomena, according to individual taste.

Bertrand Lavier, Bleu de Cobalt foncé, 2017
Bertrand Lavier, Bleu de Cobalt foncé, 2017

Echoing back to them are the painted-over signal panels sweetly titled Paysages aixois (2014) et Sombernon (2016). The latter town does really exist and is a small bucolic and picturesque municipality of the French Côte d’Or, an area slightly bigger than 13 km2 where a bit less than 1000 living souls reside. By giving it a front-row seat, Bertrand Lavier questions once again our capacity to see as much the details as the big picture. He managed to create an iconography whereby the detail is extended so much that it leaves no room to the indifferent or jaded eye. Each of his works establishes a little deeper the accuracy of his outlook on the world and his great indecency to explore what falls through the cracks of more and more vulgar news headlines and the sanction of raised thumbs on the web.

Bertrand Lavier, Sombernon, 2016
Bertrand Lavier, Sombernon, 2016

Bertrand Lavier’s work stands for what brings contemporary art closer and farther away from the public altogether. Greatly profound, its depth is declined in an infinity of readability levels and puts the neophyte off but has an irresistible ingredient to retain the hesitating yet curious character and turn him into an addict: humour. It is empirically proven that Bertrand Lavier’s art makes people happy. Betraying a perfect command of the history of art, a great technical confidence and a sharp intelligence, the work is merely the reflection of its creator: humble, generous and beaming with contagious joy.

Bertrand Lavier, A capella, at the Almine Rech Gallery in Paris until April 15th 2017

Visuals courtesy Galerie Almine Rech

Vivre par Jochen Gerz (c) Araso

When sculpture goes horizontal

In 800 Signs

There has been an official release claiming that to celebrate Pompidou Centre’s 40 years anniversary, some «major» sculptures from the museum’s collection would be exhibited «on the floor» at La Monnaie de Paris. A thorough overhaul, a kind of editorial on how sculpture has evolved and what it stands for now. And the journey is definitely worthwhile.

James Lee Byars’s installation Red Angels of Marseille, a spectacular piece displaying a striking resemblance to the work of Jean-Michel Othoniel, covers the deliciously checkered floors with a maze of red pearls spirals. Thereafter wandering through the gorgeous 18th century salons, one is struck by a string of emotions ranging from ice-cutting intimacy to joyful laughter.

Its is both amazing and invigorating to (re)discover that sculpture is also about flats, smells, light, vivid colours and a vibrant dramatic tension. 

James Lee Byars, Red Angels of Marseille, visual © Araso
James Lee Byars, Red Angels of Marseille, visual © Araso

More Signs

In the antechamber, right beside Pipilotti Rist’s welcoming star-spangled floor (his video installation Under the sky is mesmerizing), a look at Colombian visual artist Ana Mendieta’s photographs of the artist digging her own grave, shaped after her body (Tumba #5) and her bloody prints will catch one wiping a tear at the corner of an eye.

Fortunately Marcel Duchamp’s Trébuchet (Trap) is just a few steps away. As he kept stumbling on this coat rack, the artist ended up nailing it to the floor. Late Jean-Luc Vilmouth, the French artist passed away in 2015, whose baseline work was about interactions, imagined an Interaction with Hammer and Nails that just makes one want to rush to the nearest hardware store and start building a cabin.

Claudio Parmiggiani, Pittura Pura Luce, visual © Araso
Claudio Parmiggiani, Pittura Pura Luce, visual © Araso

Far from frozen, sculpture is alive, develops through human contact and is sometimes of evanescent nature. What a delight to find ourselves facing Claudio Parmiggiani’s Pure Light Paint, which lives up to expectations in an orgy of smells and colors. Meanwhile, Jochen Gerz’s disturbingly poetic installation invites us to take a walk on the word «live» written endlessly in chalk on La Monnaie’s sumptuous floors. The words vanish as the visitor follows the artist’s guidelines, making the piece’s self-destruction the only possible outcome of this celebration of life.

Floor naments at la Monnaie de Paris until July 9th 2017

Serious players

Atol’s Adriana collection, recent campaigns by Kenzo, Dior, Louis Vuitton, along with Paris 2017 D’ Days tagline, “Let’s play”… Marketing has erected a temple for fun and declared it the new religion.

But a different wind is blowing over the kingdom of video games. In the basement one can find serious games for smartphones. I love potatoes (CA 2015) suggests more responsible ways to consume. Smokitten (FR 2017) helps you quit smoking thanks to an adorable kitten and Minecraft (USA 2016) is a learning tool using digital LEGOs.

Marcus through the years
Marcus through the years

It is true that serious games have existed since the 18th century namely through war strategy simulators. As early as the 15th century, the concept of Serio Ludere is the playful approach one can find to a serious situation. Nowadays, this contradiction in terms reveal what a sociological marker video games are.

Throughout the years, the mascots (Pac-Man, Sonic, Mario…), the creators (Michel Ancel, Hideo Kojima), the platforms and a few collectible ads (SEGA, it’s stronger than you) the exhibition creates a rather comprehensive, clever panorama of the Homo Ludens and what it says about the world.

Game, video game through the yearsan exhibition at the EDF Foundation until August 27th 2017.

Visuals © Araso