La Rentrée

Christopher Mooney selects five shows to see in Paris through October 2014

By Christopher Mooney

Niki de Saint Phalle, La mariée à cheval, Sprengel Museum, Hanovre. © 2014 Niki Charitable Art Foundation Tania Mourad, AD NAUSEAM, 2012-2014, © Adagp, Paris 2014.Co-production MAC/VAL - Musée d’art contemporain du Val-de-Marne et l’Ircam-Centre Pompidou Sheila Hicks, Unknown Data, 2014, installation view, courtesy the artist and Galerie Frank Elbaz, Paris Katinka Bock, Recording paper (Paris), 2014, courtesy the artist and Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, Paris Johanna Halford, Untitled, (2014), courtesy the artist

It is upon us, la rentrée, that magical and oh-so-fleeting moment  when Parisians, refreshed and relaxed from their summer in the country, return to their great city, genuinely happy to see each other and eager to share in the capital’s cultural richesse. Unfortunately, it only lasts a few weeks before the edges fray and the anomie returns. ArtReview, however, is there now, enjoying the best of the bonhomie—and the art that feeds it.

Sheila Hicks: Unknown Data, through 18 October, at Galerie Frank Elbaz

The 80-year-old Hicks, an American in Paris since 1964, and before that a student of Josef Albers and a classmate of Eva Hesse at Yale, weaves, sews, spins, braids, wraps and twines paintings, wall hangings and sculptures of dizzying beauty out of every imaginable fabric. Some are gigantic profusions of colour and energy; others, made of untreated linen and wool, are subdued and soothing. Among our favourites are her fibre drawings — wisps of blue yarn captured between paper and glass – and the small, very poetic diary entries in coloured linen, silk and cotton that she weaves each night before drifting off to sleep.

Katinka Bock: Populonia, through 8 November, at Galerie Jocelyn Wolff

The 28-year-old Bock, a German in Paris since finishing a Villa Medicis residency in Rome last year, re-contains the gallery’s insides, outsides, and all circulation between, by removing walls, opening new apertures onto the street, and filling the denuded spaces remaining with a sober vocabulary of glass, paper, ceramics, metal, cloth, and water—salt and tap—and the transparent hoses through which they flow. Winner of the Prix Ricard 2012, Bock works at a very quiet level of expressivity: her Recording Paper series, for example, are pieces of paper that lived for a day and a night on windows around the world, focussing attention now not just on the gallery wall, its context and environs, but on the insides and outsides of each place where each work was created—Amsterdam, Paris, New York, Pantelleria and so on.

Johanna Halford: Charcoal Paintings, 7-19th October, at L’Oeil du Huit

The 47-year-old Halford, a Brit in Paris since 1988, and former fresco artist working with Ben Long and Valer Austin in the United States, presents here a series of delicate charcoal drawings on canvas and small wooden panels, fixed under layers of semi-transparent gesso. Eyes stare out—at predator or prey? 'A broken wing, a trapped bird, a majestic Ural owl in flight' – the cryptic words smudged into the wings and under the feathers aim to 'entice and unsettle'.

Tania Mouraud: Ad nauseam, through 25 January 2015, at MAC/VAL, Vitry-sur-Seine

The 72-year-old Mouraud, a Parisian in Paris since 1942 and one of France’s most socially engaged visual artists, brings her anguished and angry intellect to bear on contemporary society’s destruction of thought and memory by means of a monumental audio-visual project documenting the industrial elimination of books in a recycling plant. The giant-sized video, which fills the hall of this contemporary art museum in the Paris suburb of Vitry-sur-Seine, is accompanied by equally gargantuan soundscape of some 1,500 samples of industrial sound, and the artist’s signature ‘mots de forme’ — compressed phrases like IHAVEADREAM in 13 different languages, which are repeated ad nauseam, on the museum’s tickets and exterior, and on billboards around town.

Niki de Saint Phalle, through 2 February 2015, at Grand Palais

The 12-year-departed Saint Phalle, a Franco-American born in Paris in 1930 and raised in the United States, achieved worldwide acclaim from the 1950s on—arguably one of the first female, feminist artists to do so. She is presented here in all her glory, in a giant retrospective of paintings, sculptures, prints, films and other media. The 20,000 square foot show traces her trajectory through the various art movements — New Realism, Neo-Dada, Pop Art—and social issues of her day, and then spills out, in the form of a giant sculpture fountain, into the garden of the Grand Palais.

Online exclusive published 4 October 2014