Biennale de Lyon 2013 & Docks Art Fair

[17 Sep 2013]


On 12 September 2013, the Biennale de Lyon 2013 opened at the start of season of artistic events. It is planned to last until 5 January 2014.

With the declared aim of exploring how narrative forms are treated in Contemporary art and orchestrated by the Icelandic curator Gunnar B. Kvaran, the Lyon Biennial will be hosting work by 77 artists from 21 different countries at 5 exhibition venues (the Musée d’art contemporain, La Sucrière, the Fondation Bullukian, but also at the Eglise Saint-Just and the Chaufferie de l’Antiquaille). Apart from some well-established artists (Tom Sachs, Matthew Barney, Yoko Ono, Erro and Fabrice Hyber, among others…), the Biennale de Lyon 2013 is focused on a portfolio of lesser-known artists whose work has already received substantial exposure in galleries and institutions, but is only just beginning to break through on the secondary market. Of these, we note in particular the work of Dan Colen, whose installation cuts through several walls at La Sucrière, of Xu Zhen’s MadeIn Company and of the Bruce High Quality Foundation.

The installation created by the MadeIn collective of the Chinese artist XU Zhen (b. 1977) at La Sucrière works as a voyage through time and culture via gestural codes that go way beyond China’s frontiers. MadeIn is a “cultural production company” created in 2009 that deals with current socio-political issues and taboos via performances, installations, photographs, videos and paintings. Though recent, the collective is garnering considerable auction interest despite its very short secondary market experience. On 17 November 2011, Xu Zhen became the most expensive artist under 35 in the drawings category (drawings sold worldwide in 2011) with his work Characters Entering the City (2009) which fetched the equivalent of $55,160 at Beijing Hanhai Art Auction Co. Ltd. Recently, in June 2013, a re-visitation of Ingres’ La Grande Odalisque by Xu Zhen’s MadeIn Company sold for CNY 2.7 million (approximately $437,000) in Beijing (Light source – La Grande Odalisque, 195 cm x 350 cm, Poly International Auction, 2 June 2013).

From China to New York, a new trend is emerging at auctions: a taste (and a little speculation) for works capable of hijacking the cultural codes of the past in new and pertinent ways. The New York collective, THE BRUCE HIGH QUALITY FOUNDATION is specialised in this type of art and their most recent auction record on 14 February 2013 amounted to $234,300 (£150,000 at Phillips, London,) for a work that revisits Las Meninas by Velásquez. At the La Sucrière in Lyon, they have presented a mechanically operated polystyrene sculpture based on Antonio Canova’s famous Psyché sculpture, with parts from discarded televisions (Psyché Revived, 2013). The stated goal of the group is to “resurrect art history from the bowels of despair”.

Just 200 metres from La Sucrière, the Docks Art Fair held its fourth edition (from 12 to 15 September) with thirty galleries including RX and its one-man show by Fabien VERSCHAERE, the Claire Gastaud Gallery presenting Samuel ROUSSEAU’s installation The Tree and its Shadow, and the galleries of Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois and Laurent Godin. The latter’s artist Vincent Olinet (born in Lyon in 1981) received the Docks Art Fair 2013 MONTBLANC prize.

In “resonance” with the Biennale de Lyon 2013, a major programme of over 150 events has been planned by galleries and institutions of the region over the coming months.