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Flash News: Paris is overflowing with drawings – Homage to Howard Hodgkin – The Barjeel collection at IMA

[17 Mar 2017]

Paris is overflowing with drawings

Drawing tops the bill at the Parisian spring show: old masters, modern and contemporary drawings rub shoulders with emerging artists at the three exhibitions that transform Paris for a week into the international capital of drawing. A thousand selected works are on show at the 26th edition of the Salon du Dessin at the Palais de la Bourse from 22 March to 27 March 2017. This fair is on a human scale with 39 exhibitors (60% French galleries) some of which were present at the prestigious Tefaf Maastricht a few days earlier, like art dealers Didier Aaron, Helene Bailly, Jean-Luc Baroni, Kartsen Greve, Hadrian de Montferrand and Michel Descours from Lyon. Choosing the Paris salon after Tefaf, which is without doubt the most prestigious art and antique fair in the world, offers an undeniable guarantee of quality. Old master and modern artists are in the spotlight and highly sought after by well-informed art lovers and museum curators in particular, as drawings are more affordable than painting or sculpture.

A hundred metres from the Palais Brongniart, a more forward-thinking show opens under the glass roof of the 700m2 Atelier Richelieu: DDESSIN {17}, which defines itself as a contemporary drawing exhibition and not as a « fair ». A limited number of exhibitors offer a qualitative and sensitive appreciation of the works in the relaxed atmosphere of this 17th century townhouse. For its fifth edition, DDESSIN has selected 18 galleries, including the Céline Moine Gallery from Lyon, the Creative Growth Art Center from Oakland and the Ozenne & Prazowski Gallery from London. A selection of films related to drawing and the awarding of the DDESSIN / Institut Français de Tanger Prize {16} completes the programme from 24 to 26 March. Before leaving the neighbourhood to visit Drawing Now at the Carreau du Temple, go to 17 rue de Richelieu to discover Drawing Lab, where multiple experiments based around drawing can be seen in the basement of a hotel. This unique laboratory was opened last February at the initiative of Christine Phal, the founder of Drawing Now, in order to experiment with contemporary drawing, mixing genres, switching from the sheet of paper to walls, floors and ceilings so artists can express themselves through a diversity of media.

Finally, Drawing Now comes back to the Carreau du Temple for this 11th edition from 23 to 26 March, with 72 galleries, nearly 400 artists and some 2,000 drawings… More than 20,000 art enthusiasts are expected to attend, with a selection of works by Penone at the Bartschi Gallery, Morellet at Aline-Vidal’s, Bernard Pagès at Bernard Ceysson’s, Geneviève Asse at Catherine Putman’s, Claude Viallat at Catherine Issert’s and Barthelemy Toguo at Lelong. Philippe Piguet and Christine Phal, the curators of the show, have also decided to recreate the Master Now exhibition initiated last year, where artworks are exhibited on a black background within the show to highlight master draughtsmen.

Homage to Howard Hodgkin

The artist Howard Hodgkin passed away on 9 March at the age of 84 in his home city of London. Two exhibitions will be devoted to him in the United Kingdom in the coming months. The illustrious career of Howard Hodgkin, born in 1932, spanned over 50 years, a career punctuated by national honours that made him one of the most influential abstract painters in the United Kingdom. Hodgkin represented his country at the Venice Biennale in 1984, he won the prestigious Turner Prize the following year, was knighted in 1992 by the Queen and appointed Compagnon d’honneur in 2003. Over the past thirty years, his international reputation grew steadily, with major exhibitions in Europe and America, including a travelling retrospective that began in 2006 at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in Dublin, going on to the Tate Britain in London and then to the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid. Throughout his prestigious career, he was represented by none other than the famous Gagosian Gallery. Although Howard Hodgkin was appreciated by art institutions, he was also popular on the art market with about fifteen works offered at auction in March 2017 alone, and a record auction sale close to $2m, for In the Green Room at Christie’s in London in 2015. Even though the majority of the works sold at auction are prints, his value has more than doubled in just ten years.

Influenced by modern French and English art, especially by Degas, Turner, Seurat and Vuillard, Hodgkin created a distinct and recognisable style liberated from the impact of American painting and Abstract Expressionism. Showing great intensity in colour, possibly due to his frequent visits to India, his painting often goes beyond the frame, reinforcing the idea that a painting is first of all an object. His paintings, whose workmanship reflects an apparent simplicity with rapid and spontaneous brush strokes, in fact belie years of work and retouching.

The Barjeel collection at IMA

Visitors don’t often have the opportunity to literally enter the head and heart of a collector. This is the unique experience offered by the Institut du Monde Arabe since 28 February (and until 2 July 2017) with the exhibition 100 Chefs-d’œuvre de l’Art Moderne et Contemporain arabe, which, for the first time in France, presents a superb overview of the contemporary Arab art world from the Barjeel collection. Famous blogger and commentator on political life in the Middle East, Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi created the Barjeel Foundation in his home city of Sharjah (United Arab Emirates) in 2010, with the aim of meeting artists from the Arab world and showcasing their work in order to make them better known. It is one of the most important collections of contemporary art in the Middle East and it is exhibited for the first time in France.

The exhibition at IMA includes in three spaces the history of Arabic art from the second half of the 20th century, whatever the media. Curator Philippe Van Cauteren, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent and Curator of the Iraqi Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, wanted to emphasise the special approach of the collector. The exhibition opens on a museum-style gallery, bringing together the leading artists through a classic exhibition design. Kader Attia, winner of the Prix Duchamp 2016, is in the spotlight with his neon installation Demo(n)cracy. It is shown alongside Underground, a forest of desks bearing the engravings of Adel Abdessemed and a magnificent yet more traditional portrait byHayv Kahraman. Young artists also have a special place: next to the sculptures of Athar, a 34-year-old Iraqi artist who is now living in Italy, is the poignant portrait of a homeless Barack Obama by Abdalla Omari, a 30 year old Syrian painter who has taken refuge in Brussels. The second room surprises visitors by making them enter a storage room, a place of preservation and scientific research par excellence, but that also offers a closer connection with the works. The last room allows visitors to enter the very heart of the process of creating a collection by unveiling the private space of Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi, with a display of documents, photographs and notes. The real raison d’être of the Barjeel collection then becomes clear: this foundation is primarily a working tool to document the history of art in the Arab world. This exhibition is both a homage to artistic creation and a call for a dialogue between civilisations, let’s hope that the Western public will respond.

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