Your new post is loading...
Your new post is loading...
An exhibition on enfermement (locking, imprisonment, sperring?) in the largest prison in Paris clearly, in France surely, and in the world after Australia maybe - normal says the press file. Not very original I think. We all have seen dozens of times the works bought or commissioned by Francois Pinault: Venezia, Versailles, randomly, even Fondation Maeght last summer. Now la Conciergerie. Where will he stop?
The first piece is Pistoletto' La Gabbia (the cage). As usual Pistoletto is witty, so witty that about 95% of the visitors do not realise it is a piece of art. "Please, don't touch. It is art, says the guard. Oh really, is it art? says an astonished tourist". I have stayed 10 minutes in front of it, and only one person has stopped. Poverino Michelangelo!
The imprisonment in the second piece, a video by Diana Thater, is more provided by the set up of the screens, pentagonally circling around visitors, than by the films themselves. At this point, I am already fed up with all the philistines standing between the screens and the projectors - after a day of Perrotin's contemporary art vulgarisation, I feel that la coupe est pleine when it comes to dealing with people and contemporary art. Almost alone in this space now, I quickly immerse myself in Thater's world of superpositions. Gesperrt, ich fuehle, despite the swan swimming on the deep blue sea. The piece is titled Chernobyl. What the hell are the swan and the sea doing here? No comment
One cannot really comment on Bill Viola's Hall of Whispers, slow, high quality resolution images, sinking you in the videos, as usual. It has to be experienced, a bit like the top floor of Collection Lambert in Avignon, designed by Claude Leveque. The title is funny though. Hall of whispers, for a video installation that shows five people on each side of the room, with gags, trying to speak. But why the hell do they also close their eyes?
Back in the light, and a more usual setting. Raphaelle Ricol's Malgre la difference is brilliant (pictured). Watch the photo. So self-explanatory. Note to self: explore the rest of Ricol's works. The opportunity is given to me subito: Sans titre (gaz et telephone) is a lot less witty than the first piece, which, btw, has been massacred by the editor of the leaflet, who only shows half of the painting, and therefore takes away completely the message
The four paitings by Iranian artist Ahmed Alsoudani look like a Bacon study that has met a grumpy Gilles Barbier. Not my cup of tea
Boris Mikhailov on the leaflet looks like a gay icon: again, the editor has chosen to show two sailors with their pompoms, enhanced by subsequent colouration of the photo. Not the best choice of topic, Mr Editor, Mikhailov is the contemporary Arbus, not Mapplethorpe! But Mikhailov technique is quite clear. Just that it has been a long time since we heard about USSR. And I am clearly not a millenial...
Bertille Bak's video looks like a photo by Stephane Couturier. I don't understand the piece by Mona Hatoum that follows. With such pieces, one needs an explanation on the piece itself, not on the artist. My favourite by her remains the string of swings presented a couple of years ago at the MacVal. Then Pinault's blue eyed girl, Ethiopian artist Julie Mehretu. I have never been so fond of her work, and I don't really understand the rapport between the pieces presented here and imprisonment. Is it more subtle, such as Mehretu being the next artist presented in Versailles? Ooops, sorry, I promised myself I will not go there
Most of the videos with sound here are presented with headset - I would have preferred the sounds to intermix, like in the basement of the Palais de Tokyo. That would have been an acoustic imprisonment
Temps mort by Mohamed Bourouissa. I can stay there for hours. At first, I wonder why the quality is so poor. Then I realise it is filmed with a mobile phone, and meant simply to describe the usual Parisian life, and directed at someone who is locked away. In prison. And lives a temps mort. This is the most powerful piece so far. Everyone passes by. No one gets it. I feel like shouting; instead I transform myself in mediateur - and summons people to sit down, watch and listen. Not much success, I am afraid
Sun Yuan and Peng Yu's Old Persons Home is amazing, especially given two of these people move - they are all on wheelchair. But more striking is the mix of people who seem to co-habit in this pensioners’ home: all religions, all nationalities, all dignities. A contemporary Noe's Arch? A Russian girl in the corner is patting the resin head of one of Yuan and Yu's characters. Oh, creepy!
The collection of works by Llyn Foulkes reminds me of John Stezaker, who I believe is regaining momentum on the art scene. Tellez video installation looks like Pinault-owned Vezzoli's video with Sharon Stone and BHL playing the Clintons, that has been widely exhibited. Inside though, it is more Gillian Wearing-like
Yet another Hirst's pharmacy
Then I feel like a voyeur in an interior designed by Kristian Burford, half-way between a failed Maria Pergay designed house, and something undescribable. I am less charmed by the pieces by Justin Matherly and Chen Zen. And Tetsumi Kudo. And Alina Szapocznikow - sort of 3-D bacon, with a negative twist. And Maria Marchal, the message of whom I don't really get
Fortunately, before the end, Frederic Kunath shows a welcome piece, the Past is a Foreign Country. Mix between recklessness of tropical shirt, head imprisoned in a snowball and focus, almost locked-in face of the Duane Hanson-like character, is he really trying to forget the past?
Last piece, commissioned for this exhibition, White Elements, executés à Wavre, by Belgian duo Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys. Beyond the wit of the title, I don't understand the overall piece. Perhaps here again, a dedicated explanation would have been a good idea
At the end, I buy the catalogue. Funny, one of the authors is Marie Darrieussecq... Again, no comment
All in all, was really worth seeing, mainly for the video by Bourouissa, the pensioners' home by Yuan and Yu and the discovery of Raphaelle Ricol. One big regret is about the curation, as often: not enough explanations on the pieces themselves. And as everyone knows, contemporary art has at least three levels of comprehension: first, the aesthetic one - less obvious in most videos or the most innovative pieces; second, the do-I-understand-what-the-artist-means one; and third, the do-I-agree-with-the-artist's-point-of-view one? I am afraid, I only went one and a half level down on average here. But I don’t feel I have been taken for a ride
A triple tour
Oeuvres de la Collection Pinault
La Conciergerie, Paris
Lille is not far from Paris. It is even closer than Brussels is. One hour et des poussieres after having painfully boarded a TGV that had to be replaced because it was broken and as a result left 20 minutes late, I arrive at Lille Tri Postal 3000. I don't know what Tri Postal is, or rather I did not know until the Galieristissime decided to instal his 25th birthday there. Why so far from Paris? Or so close? It was ballsy
Before the show, one is greeted by some doughnut scent as one exits the Lille train station. Feels like passing by the back door of Harrods. And the delightful smile of the wardrobe clerk. "Salut ma beauté”, her colleague shouts. Hum... Not quite
Exhibition greeting is provided by Scandi-duo Elmgreen & Dragset. After having ridiculed Wellington on Trafalgar Square, and subsequently sold it at the Frieze this year for one million something, they install Irina (pictured) opposite a Phantom covered with tar and feathers. Disgrace, they call it. Amusing to have two opposite symbols of wealth starting what promises to be one of the largest examples of a passion for rich people (read, contemporary art)
Bernard Frize (not Frieze...) sets up a dialogue with Jean-Michel Othoniel in the first large room. I like the idea of dedicating large rooms to major artists - even if it does not really tell a message. Unfortunately, this will not be the case throughout the show. One could also regret that some of the more inventive works by Othoniel (the boat he found in Marseilles, the Chinese calculator, etc) are not there. But let's move on
Another room, another dialogue: Paola Pivi's animals respond to the nude and young bodies of Ryan McGinley. Not much of McGinley for now, which has been so ubiquitous in every fair last year
In the same room, not sure why, the founding act of the Perrotin-Calle cooperation: the two tailings, twenty years apart, exposed on the walls a la maniere de Sophie Calle. By Sophie Calle. The style of the detectives, although from the same agency (the famous Duluc), has evolved between 1981 and 2001. But I am preoccupied elsewhere. I remember my two brief encounters with the artist. And my unusual shyness when I came to speak to her during a break she was taking in Avignon a couple of years ago from reading her mother's carnets. It is difficult to convey wittily one's admiration for a creative soul in a 90 second punch line. I think I failed. Admired artists should never be spoken to briefly. They should not be spoken to at all, or invited in for a long lunch
In the corner, Cattelan's INRI horse is still lying. Not his best piece
Somehow, Guy Limone's rosy magazine tapestry reminds me of the staircase of the MAMCO in Geneva
1st floor, room 5. All dedicated to JR. Massively innovative artist, but here also one regrets that the many pieces exhibited here do not convey fully this originality - at least to the neophyte. I remember one piece, in a friend's dining room, which was a lot better. Not a photo, or a photo on several pieces of woods. In the contiguous room, JR's film, Women are heroes takes us up to the next level. It gives the viewer the impression to touch the favellas the same way seeing people assume blind people need to touch the world around them to move swiftly: without discontinuity. I leave the room as the famous image of the train with eyes shows on the screen. Big success in the limited audience. Well deserved
Next, Pieter Vermeersch and his pigments. Interesting on full plain walls, but I prefer his paintings. People around me don’t get it. Their loss
Room 7 is messy and does not, in my view, pay enough tribute to Parreno, Eric Duyckaerts (one of my favourites, but I did not know he was - still - with Perrotin) or Maiko Mori. Special mention to the video by Yeondoo Jung, animated version of Laurie Simmons' dolls and Casebere's Prisoner-like villages
Then the two enfants cheris: Murakami and Hirst. The Japanese guru pulls a Jeff Koons with a balloon, but unlike Koons, it is really inflatable plastic. The series of Jellyfish Eyes (Tatsuya, Saki and Max&Shimon) is pleasant. The room dedicated to Hirst is a good representation of almost all his series: splash painting, dot painting, a pharmacy, fish in formaldehyde, everything is in there. Even the When logics die series(1991-99) is quite witty, and would gain to be exhibited more often
Room 10: Germaine Richier (the only one that does not have a wall explanation of her work and who she is) dialogues with Claude Rutault. I am progressively getting to understand Rutault, but our initial encounter was not spectacular. I think he should be considered a method more than anything else
Room 11 is again a patchwork. Andre (one of the few people, perhaps with actress-turned-director Zabou, to be better recognised by their first name alone) is showing off a candycrush-styled Baron. Mr's piece reminds me of 1980s cartoon Candy (again...), after a meeting with Murakami. Chiho Aoshima comes also from Murakami's studio and could be the hyphen between the Japanese master and a Dali-esque vision of the world
One floor up. Will Perrotin do as Pinault once did (still does?) in Venice, ie showing more minor artists as we go up in floors? It does not seem to be the case. Firman shows off his elephant, only held by his trump. Hernan Bas, one of the latest to have joined the stable of Perrotin's proteges, is on the opposite wall - back to painting for the art world, Bas is spot on in this trend, which has been widely exhibited last year. Farhad Moshiri still write with knives. Esteve, Hildebrandt, Zimmerman, Day Jackson (who would also have deserved more space) are jammed in the next room
Superstars of the Perrotin stables, Creten, Trouvé and Veilhan, each of them deserves their own room, and get it, Veilhan with a very interesting table full of representations of architects in various scales and various materials (wood, gold, silver, ebony, bronze etc)
The last section shows brilliant films by Ivan Argote and Jesper Just, and surprising pieces by Klara Kristalova - I love the Fish Market, all in deep dark rooms, accentuating the dramatic effect of the pieces
Ca y est, after more than two hours, it is sadly over. And I wish it continues up on a third floor
All in all, a very mainstream but high quality contemporary exhibition. But hold on a second, why is it mainstream? Would that not be because Perrotin has been promoting his artists really well. So well that they have become the most famous amongst contemporary artists. Happy Birthday, Mr Perrotin. And well done
Happy Birthday Mr Perrotin
Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin 25th birthday
Tri postal Lille, next to Lille-Europe or Lille-Flanders train station
Until 12 January 2014. Rush....
J'ai aimé: - Jonathan Adler (pictured), on Sloane Avenue, London - for some reason I had missed the opening of this shop 2 years ago. A lot more spacious than the one on Greenwich Avenue, and packed with even more stuff, from chic laquee bathroom gear in pop colours to psychadelic rugs and great dinner presents - Santo - very North of Notting Hill my friend said, who invited me there. Is it the new NoHo? I dont know but clearly it could be the new place to be. Ceviches to die for, incredible tacos, profusion of pork belly marinated in orange and lamb cooked i dont know how, this is far from where I live but as Mr Gault and Millaut would say, clearly merite le detour - Paul McCartney's new album, very topically titled "New". It is Paul's sixteenth album, and it gathered 4 producers, including DJ Mark Ronson and Giles Martin, the son of Beatles producer Sir George Martin. Early successes include New, and Queenie Eye, the video of which is packed with Paul's good friends, such as Johnny Depp, Kate Moss, Jude Law or Meryl Streep. Very entertaning, very catchy - Top of the Lake, a new TV series by Jane Campion. The atmosphere is vaguely reminiscent of last year's Les Revenants produced by Canal+ - probably because in both, a lake is one of the main characters - but New Zealander landscapes filmed by Campion, of The Piano fame, are gorgeously superb. The intrigue is also quite catchy: a 12-year old Australo-Thai disappears, after having confessed she is pregnant. And Elisabeth Moss - the awkward secretary in Mad Men - is a lost detective from Sydney in charge of finding her (am no spoiler, this is all in the first episode) - Cameron Diaz - because she is Cameron Diaz (@CameronDiaz) - and Bob Mankoff (@BobMankoff) - the New Yorker cartoonist - joining Twitter Je n'ai pas aimé: - Vodafone customer service: have got two phone lines and an iPad with them and am a business customer. And despite that I need to wait at least half an hour to check when my contracts are up for renewal. Come on, Vodafone, lets be serious #KingsRoad - Harrods - why on earth do they say it is open until 8pm on Saturdays if the gift-wrapping people leave at 7? #laziness Je n'ai pas tranche sur: - the Paris Photo VIP lounge: why so few tables and so much empty space? Good point for the inventive salads though: lentils with foie gras, fenel and watercress with feta, orange and grefeuit navels
- Home by SFR: burglars and untidy (or dishonest?) maids, behave, here comes Home by SFR. Mais qu'est ce que c'est? Un systeme d'alarme completement DIY, et beaucoup plus puissant que n'importe quel systeme de ma connaissance. Tout est simple, vraiment simple, avec Home by SFR, et cela vient de quelqu'un qui a mis le feu a son appartement la derniere fois qu'il a change une ampoule (moi...). On commande sur Internet (http://www.sfr.fr/accessoires/innovation/home-by-sfr.html), on recoit une boite une semaine plus tard. L'installation est hyper claire: on enregistre le numero de la centrale sur un site dedie, on la raccorde sur son Wi-Fi (mais il y a une cle 3G a l'interieur pour contrer les mauvaises gens qui voudraient vous cambrioler en coupant votre Wi-Fi), on rattache autant de cameras, de detecteurs de mouvement / d'ouverture / de fumee, de sirenes ou de telecommandes d'alarme que l'on veut (simple raccordement en mettant une pile, vous y croyez?) et on les fixe aux endroits strategiques de la maison avec des coussinets double face. Pas de perceuse, pas de trous. Et on peut tranquillement observer son entree, sa salle de bains (pas recommande...) ou son salon depuis son lieu de vacances ou son bureau. Une alerte est envoyee sur l'app Home by SFR et optionnellement un SMS sur votre portable des qu'un des detecteurs actives est sollicite. Mega simple, mega efficace, mega tranquilisant. Bravo SFR!
- La Voile Blanche, the top floor restaurant of Pompidou Metz museum: nice padrone di casa, eager to give out his mobile number to facilitate next time booking, decent cuisine even if a bit too oily, stunning terrace, what's not to like in this good alternative to provincial invigorating cuisine? (http://www.centrepompidou-metz.fr/fr/node/266)
- Social Eating House, 58 Poland (not Pollen) Street, London - casual offshoot of Pollen Street Social located in nearby Soho, this is a nice addition to the Soho restaurant scene, especially when one does not want to have the lengthy type of dinner of Dean Street Townhouse (otherwise delicious). Try the mushrooms on toast, a delight (www.littlesocial.co.uk)
- las Chicas, new chich concept store in Tangiers - in an old family house, Ayda and her two accomplice have created a Moroccan Colette, at the entrance of Tangiers' casbah. If you are after a chich Moroccan style outfit (Kenza Melehi, Said Mahrouf, Amine Bendriouch), some nice accessories (Andy Wahloo, Lup31 or Rock Da Casbah), or simply want to have a tea or breakfast, stop by Ayda and friends. Welcome also are the decoration pieces (carpet, painting, lighting) gathered around the world by Ayda's informants. No website yet but stop by at Las Chicas de Tanger, 52 rue Kacem Guenoun, Tanger, +212 539 374 510
- Jimmy Fallon re-interpretation of Robin Thicke's Blurred Lines - no need to describe, just watch on YouTube (keywords: Jimmy Fallon, Blurred Lines)
- le Petit Marius - again a small offshoot, that of Marius et Jeanette, avenue George V in Paris. Not much to say apart from a nice fish menu, delivered quickly, of good quality, and an impressive crowd: when I was there last week, I rubbed shoulders with the most upcoming French fashion designer, the well known PR of an old fashion designer, and a couple of star bankers. What else?
Je n'ai pas aime:
- Air France's one row business classes: not only you get the 3-year old on row two behing you kicking in your seat, but you also get to hear all the fascinating conversation of the crew, that has to shout to cover the aircraft natural noise. Nice anecdote on a flight to Barcelona last week. Me to the purser: "This is a very noisy plane". The purser, clueless, to me: "Yes Sir, we are preparing the cabin for landing". Me: "I am talking about your conversation for the whole flight, on a 7am flight, when I would like to sleep". Him: "Sorry that we exist" (difficult to translate in English as it is such a poor comment). Incroyable, non? What will airlines do when they have driven the few people who still travel business on short-haul away from paying business prices for less than two-hour flights?
Je veux essayer:
- the Stutterheim raincoats (pictured) - a new, high-end brand of raincoats created by Alexander Stutterheim from Sweden, allegedly created from an old piece of his grandfather's raincoat found in his attic. Made in Arholma, which is also the name of one of the models, it comes in many bright colours. A good alternative to your tired Burberry trench coat? (www.stutterheim.com)
On a rainy Sunday afternoon, I have decided to check whether the Paris version of the Lichtenstein exhibition is so much better than the London one (that took place some time ago at the Tate Modern - see this blog for review). And perhaps to patch things up with Simon Hantai, Hungarian-born, French-naturalised painter that travelled to Italy by foot, and taught the world how to fold a sheet
There is a queue even for members. Good start, especially under the rain. Gave me the motivation to send a tweet - let's see if I get an answer. Inside, the loudspeaker beams messages trying to discourage people to go for Lichtenstein. 45 minutes of additional queue... And zip for Hantai. Even beyond death, unequality continues...
Here we are. Gallery 1. Simon Hantai. The guys checking tickets for the third time are discussing how to change the world in a left-wing movement. Tout un programme!
For those who don't know Hantai, he is the XXth century painter who has painted the highest number of pieces looking awfully similar to a Rorschach test. But the exhibit starts with a radically different piece: Peinture, painted in 1959 ie one year exactly before he starts his folding technique. It looks like a representation of hell by Jerome Bosch from the far. Or a miniaturised photo of Angelo Musco. There is also some Jan Fabre in Hantai's first works (in the early 50s). And more naturally some Tanguy, Dali, and other surrealist fellows. Some of the paintings would actually have had some relevance at last year's La Maison Rouge "Sous influence" exhibition...
I have to say that I did not know this period's paintings - and I like them very much. Colourful, detailed, mixing sometimes media (some of them have animals' skulls or bones planted in them), they are very interesting. They also help understand clearly how Hantai went from his artistic roots (Budapest painting school, and slightly later, surrealist painting) to the famous pliages. I have here to pay tribute to the curator: the chronological presentation of the works is brilliant - and didactically clear, which is good for a painter that had not been exhibited in Paris for fourty years. The sobriety of some of the pieces (eg Souvenir de l'avenir, 1957) is aesthetically impressive
The "petites touches" - small strokes, that represents more or less the liaison between the gestual painting of the early 50s and the folding technique of post 1960 - is incredibly powerful. It almost created a two-tier reading of the works, one from the far (ie a cross or some reflection in the water, in A Galla Placidia, pictured, one of his most well know works, 1958-59), and one from closer (the famous petites touches)
And here comes the foldings. Mariales, first, in four series (a, b, c and d – no more imagination for the titles once he thought about folding the canvasses) where the whole canvas is painted, sometimes with small white areas in the middle. Catamurons then, where a blue area is placed at the centre of an otherwise white canvas, supposedly inspired by a blue beach towel drying on a door close to a white wall in a house called Catamurons, rented by Hantai for his family. And the series of the panses, figuring really the rumen of an animal, which could have inspired René to imagine the most bizarre shapes
Then, in 1967, the Hantai family moves to Meun near Paris. And Hantai produces the series of Meuns. I admire this simple psychological disposition... The Meuns seem to breathe a bit more than the previous series. Colours get a bit more complicated, but also a bit more dull. The curator compares them to Matisse's collages, but I disagree. Have a look, and you tell me. For me, the interest that I find in Hantai works seems inversely proportionate to the surface of white that seems to invade his canvasses in the late 60s. A matter of taste
The 70s continue the trend with the Etudes, monochromatic pieces with always more non-painted inside, but demonstrating more minutiae than the Meuns. And the Blancs, with more colours. And always more whites
The exhibition ends with the Tabulas, a series that suddenly reminds me of the One Thousand Windows on the World by Gary Hume. The folding is different this time, and produces regular frames on the canvas, with Hantai's self-famous star-spray effect between the various rectangles. Again, and still, I am missing the middle-aged Hantai
In the middle of this original exhibition, it all came back to me: my first encounter with Hantai was through one of his works where I believe he used a four-colour biro, like children have at school, and wrote/drew simultaneously with the four colours. I cannot remember where I saw it, nor was I able to find this work in this exhibition. But Ecriture rose (1958-59) or Peinture (1959), or any of the petites touches-ecritures pieces definitely reminded me of it. Mr Hantai, I liked you, until you turned 38. I liked the depth of your work. And I have liked you less since, as your work, for interesting though it has been since you invented pliages, has become more unidimensional, physically and metaphorically. But Paris was wrong to ignore you for fourty years, so people of Paris, rush to Centre Pompidou, and pay tribute to Sir Simon. You have one week left
Rue Beaubourg, Paris 3e, France
Until 2 September 2013
- Le Ciro's - from its days when it was the pretentious and not so good restaurant in Deauville, the Ciro's has grown into one of the best places to have lunch or dinner on the Normandy coast, and clearly on the Deauville boardwalk, the famous Planches de Deauville. Perfect sole, delicious salmon starter, mouthwatering puddings for those who like them, and excellent service (Le Ciro's, boulevard de la Mer, 14800 Deauville, +33 231 14 31 31, or go through the concierge at Normandy or Royal to book)
- Qui plume la lune - the best newcomer (or not so new anymore) on the Parisian food scene in years. Everything is great about this Bastille tucked away outpost, from the smile of the owner to cuisine of the chef (who I believe is also an owner). Named after an 80s film with Jean-Pierre Darroussin of Mes Meilleurs Copains fame (Y'a pas l'feu au lac, on va s'faire un super cafe...), this Flintstone-decorated place has a simple principle: guests do not chose what they want to eat, but share their dietary requirements and the number of dishes they want (2, 4 or 5). Then the chef adapts, feeding you with always the same quantity of food (i.e. the size of the dishes decreases as the number of courses increases). Expect a festival: perfect nera di sepia risotto, warm foie gras, and amazing fish, cheese to die for, even the puddings (which I do not normally like) are worth it. And if something is missing, not on the menu or you want to taste a new wine, just ask, the owner is there, with smart ideas and good advice - and a smile. To the point one believes we are not in Paris anymore...
- the appearance of trays on the Eurostar luggage belts for a couple of months now - I did not want to write about it before, as I was worried this would disappear, as all the good ideas usually do, but this avoids having to take one's jacket to the laundry each time one commutes between Paris and London. After 25 years of existence, great innovation!
- that Air France boarding passes now work with Passbook. SO CONVENIENT, well done! If Aegean - great airline btw - could do it, Air France could as well, and did it. For those who don't know how it works, when you check in online on your iPhone (do it on the Air France app, not on the site), you get asked "Save to Passbook". Press on it, and your boarding pass pops into the Passbook app, which is built in with iOS 6. All your passes in one place, and your iPhone gets a bit more tidy
- Manchester - first time in Manchester this week, and clearly a nice beautiful provincial Britland city. Stay at Radisson Blu, convenient, mega-nice staff, great spa and gym and very central, if not super charming. One point of caution for fast lane travelers: the Manchester airport lounge operates "a strict three-hour policy. Even if your flight is late, you will be required to vacate the premises after three hours". Ah, le charme discret de la provinciale bourgeoisie...
- Bright lights, big city by Jay McInerney. Everyone knows, or should know, McInerney. At least every fan of Scott Fitzgerald, Brett Easton Ellis and other writers who have made a name in describing wittily the f***ed up way of life, East Coast or West Coast, of the American jeunesse doree. The plot is simple: a quite well-born fils de famille gets an inferior job at a good newspaper and marries an aspiring model. And from there on, everything gets in shambles... Quick beach reading
- Vanity Fair, French version. I had not bought the first issue, but the second one is remarkable. Lots of articles with content, Pistorius, Hepburn, Saint-Laurent, Galliano, even if the topics are not always unheard of, the wealth of details in the content deserves tribute
- the rejig of Daft Punk's Get lucky by Stephen Colbert - initially a simple story: Daft Punk cancelled on Colbert (whose Colbert Report is broadcast on Comedy Central) on the back of their exclusivity contract with MTV. So Colbert called upon his address book to produce a "slightly amended" version of Get Lucky. When one's friends are call Matt Damon, Jeff Bridges, Mel B or Hugh Laurie, this proves even better than the original one. Watch on YouTube
Je n'ai pas aime:
- Monsieur Bleu - yes, everyone has been talking about it for weeks, months even. Yes, it was expected to display the same cocktail of babes, unbearable waitresses, standardised food and power people than any new high profile restaurant opening in Paris (the previous one with so much hype having probably been the Ralph's). Yes, the place is wonderful and the terrace is breathtaking, even though some are disappointed to face a busy road. I so wanted it to be a success that I went multiple times. Each time: a total fight to book a table (no phone bookings apparently possible, closed for 2 weeks in August and do not take September bookings before the break), never a smile at the entrance and they manage to fatify (yes, fatify), even the healthiest dishes (why the heck add cream on seabass carpaccio). It is a shame. I will continue to go, as I want it to succeed but please, Monsieur Bleu, put a smile on the hostess face and teach her the rudiments of politeness, take out the cream and improve your booking system. Merci!
- the new HSBC retail banking app - the UK one works fine-ish, but the new French one is an absolute nightmare of complexity and failure. Complexity, because one needs at least a PhD in IT to be able to use it (it is so complex that explaining the mere complexity of it is too complex...). Failure because the iPhone app (not the iPad one so far) sometimes blocks itself (it gets Doctor Watsoned, for those old and geek enough to understand the joke) and never comes back. You then have to desinstall it, and reinstall it. I can cope, but what about my 90 year old grandmother?
Je n'ai pas tranche sur:
- Grille - THE place to have lunch these days in Paris. Think about it: a kebab place in the heart of uber-trendy Paris 2nd borough, with veal by Hugo Desnoyers, spelt bread, all of this dressed with white horseradish mixed with mint and coriander. Very good, indeed, but probably not to justify the hour of queueing that seems to be the norm these days. And the lack of tables (2 inside, 2 outside) means that it rules itself out from being used by people who do not work or lunch in the immediate surrounding. Some progress to make, but a welcome addition to the fast yet high-quality lunch (15, rue Saint-Augustin Paris 2e)
Je veux essayer:
- the Cardok parking system: the picture is self-explanatory. You dig into the ground and once your car is on the Cardok place, it goes deep in the ground, freeing up a nice garden above your garage. See the photo...
- Kinsterna Hotel and Spa, in Monemvassia, Greece - This place is an absolute nightmare to get to: either 5 hours of OK road from Athens, or 3 incredibly tortuous hours from Kalamata, a small military airport in the South of Peloponnesos with only 4 flights departing per week. But once one has managed to reach this place, it is magical. Entirely built around a water cisterna (Kinsterna?), the hotel has a wonderful and gigantic L-shaped pool (25 m long, rare for a holiday resort, pictured). Staff is adorable and mega-helpful, if not mega-trained, food is excellent, organic and fresh, and the belly of the cocktail bartender is a tribute to his mixing skills. Prefer a Kinsterna suite, as these have magnificent views (see photo) and often a balcony. And visit the nearby citadel. Worth it, even for 3-4 days
- the Patio in the Bar Les Heures, in the recently renovated Hotel Prince de Galles. For years, I have passed by Prince de Galles, pitying silently its owners because of the desertion that let this ancient glory empty when compared to its bling Four Seasons neighbour. It is now time for payback. Renovated in the Art Deco spirit that made the glory of this old place, but not only, Prince de Galles nouvelle formule has a delightful patio which can serve either the casual but delicious food from Bar les Heures (taste their incredible tomato and burrata plate, or the squid and prawn salad) or the rather sophisticated menu from the fine-dining place that occupies another side of the square-shaped patio and is run by the recent winner of some cuisine TV show. Inside also, Les Heures is beautiful and original, making it a good place for winter days too. Mega-friendly staff - again, probably in training - but a bad point for the wine lists: that of the bar has 5 bottles of red, out of which 2 (the most interesting ones) were missing, and that of the gastro does not have some of those little trouvailles, that the unskilled bling spender does not notice, but that connoisseurs cherish, especially at the time of the bill. Made the comment to the head sommelier, lets see if he takes it onboard...
- FlyNiki - God, I was not looking forward to this 5-hour trip on FlyNiki, with a connection in Vienna, an airport I do not know mega-well. Result: It was the most efficient trip and the best price-quality balance I have had in a long time. Departure and landing on time, arrival gate in Vienna right next to the departing gate (had a 35-minute connection time, so came quite handy), mega-friendly staff (seems thanks God to be a recurring theme this week, for a change) and clean aircraft. For less than 150 euros. And none of the speedy boarding or group boarding shit that some others give you. Only bad point: there is a "gastro" menu (hear not sandwich) on board, but one cannot order it, it has to be pre-ordered (stock-killing exercise) - but not too bad, and overall excellent experience. All of this with the AirBerlin FFP. So I say, Fly Niki (Lauda), Fly
- Persons of Interest - this is a bizarre TV show, that I did not want to watch for a while. The pitch is confusing: a limping billionaire has built a machine that spits social security numbers meant to reveal the identity of future victims of violent crimes. Because the billionaire (Finch) is not physically in good shape, he has recruited (episode 1) an ex-military passing as dead to act and prevent these crimes. Sort of contemporary Cyrano de Bergerac where Christian would be rich and smart and Cyrano strong and military-trained. I realise no one at this point feels like starting season 1. And still, I would recommend it as half-way through the first season, each individual story is well crafted and quite better than the CSI manufacture or its doppelgangers. And of course, there is an element of continuation as, through the usage of rather confusing flashbacks, one learns at each episode how Finch has become a billionaire, or a cripple, and how Reese (Cyrano) was lost for any cause when he was spotted by Finch. At the time of Snowden, Manning and other Wikileaks, this show appears spot on dans l'air du temps
- L'Art d'etre pauvre, de Boni de Castellane - Dans la France de la fin du XIXe et celle du debut du XXe siecle, la vie de Boniface de Castellane, rejeton des plus illustres et anciennes familles francaises, qui ne manque pas de grand chose au depart mais decouvre les joies d'une vie dispendieuse a l'exces en epousant Anna Gould. Construction du Palais Rose - jamais fini et demoli depuis longtemps -, de deux yachts, voyages interminables, rencontres spectaculaires, ce roman tres autobiographique est avant tout un formidable plaidoyer pour l'education. On y apprend comment Boni, homme poilitique par oisivete, jamais ne se laissera demonter par l'adversite - le divorce, la ruine, le remariage de sa femme avec son cousin, l'annulation de deux de ses elections - et que son education le tirera toujours de ses aventures, avec panache et elegance. A mediter en ces temps contraries
Je n'ai pas aime:
- My Flat in Paris - there are plenty of cases when one would need a short let in Paris: flat refurbishment, long-term (weeks or months) trip, simple willingness to try a new area. This is what My Flat in Paris is about. Flat owners, registering guarantees you a nice revenue top-up - prices for short-term are usually higher than long-term renting, around 100 euros per night for a one-bedroom in the West of Paris; renters, you expect a cheaper solution than the hotel, and above all hassle-free. My experience with My Flat in Paris was clearly not hassle-free: moved into a disgusting flat (some knives still had food remains from the previous tenants...), did not have hot water for three days, twice, had to deal with people who were more preoccupied to get my cheque than to ensure my well-being. This was a sad experience, and clearly one I would not renew nor recommend
- le limogeage de Jean-Louis Martinelli aux Amandiers de Nanterre - largement commente par la recente sortie de Frederic Mitterrand, qui cherchait toujours la redemption pour le non-renouvellement, stupidissime, d'Olivier Py a l'Odeon. Si tout le monde avait - a raison - critique Mitterrand lorsqu'il avait renvoye Py, pourquoi faire de meme avec un autre excellent directeur de theatre. Ces polemiques, ces remplacements, ces joutes dans la presse alors qu'il y a bien d'autres choses a faire, m'ennuient, et sont mauvaises pour le theatre
Je n'ai pas tranche sur:
- Vicomte A trousers - beautiful, colourful but why do they split the first time you put them on? Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and try out another model
The Parisian restaurant scene is booming. And what is particularly pleasant is that discoveries are still possible, even for restaurants that have been open for a bit to a while
Kinugawa was one of the oldest Japanese restaurants of Paris. It is now clearly also the best one. And there, I don't know where to start. The decor has been entirely redone by Gilles & Boissier, at the request of the new French owners - nice info conveyed by the Figaro a few weeks ago, the new owners are French; I would add they are very experienced in Japanese-flavoured cuisine, being also the ones at the helm of the two delicious Orient-Extreme (rue du Dragon, 6ème and rue Bayard, 8ème)
The menu is impeccable and its execution the same: if you are - like me - lost or overwhelmed by the wealth of choice, try the Kinugawa menu. 6 small-ish plates including succulent yellowtail carpaccio, beef tartare with a twist, flawless black cod - and don't miss the wine list. The Giscours we got was at the perfect temperature. And this is SO rare, that it must be noted. As some of you would know, I have been fighting for months (years?) with the chefs de cave at some Paris-based 5 stars to get the wine and chamapgne temperature respected
And the crowd. Of course, most of us don't go to restaurants for the crowd (oh really?). But if you do, even occasionally, this is incredible for people watching. Last lunch I attended there, I came across, in no particular order: a famous jewel designer that has recently moved to Place Vendome - who is said to be a regular, the head of the French branch of a large US bank, a nice and fun journalist who had ses heures de gloire, the CEO of a CAC40 company, and lots of babes with lots of shopping bags
Kinugawa, on vous dit. What else?
9 rue du Mont-Thabor, Paris 1er
+33 142 60 65 07
- Psy concert, live broadcast on YouTube on Saturday morning, 6.30pm Seul time. Great show, great dances, great costumes, great band, great co-singers – not the new Leonard Cohen, but a pleasant phenomenon. And a witty new video for his new song, Gentleman
- the idea of a Monocle café – newly landed on Chiltern Street, London, this is the new step of the Monocle way of life. Not tried yet, but am so looking forward to it that you will hear about it in a couple of weeks
- Gaspard Proust – je l’aimais déjà beaucoup du peu que je connaissais de ses one-man shows et de ses rôles au cinéma – et il fallait être bon pour faire oublier la médiocrité du film L’Amour dure Trois Ans. J’ai découvert ses editos chez Ardisson (Salut les Terriens, Canal +, editos vers 8pm) – très drôles, très bien écrits. Seul point de perfectibilité: il faudrait moins attendre les éclats de rire ;-)
- La Petite Maison, in Dubai – one of the high gastronomic places of Dubai, this is the third offshoot from the Nice-based, Nicole-created, un-missable South of France gastro place, where some well known French political figures are said to get chopped regularly from their neighbouring vacation places. In Dubai, same atmosphere as the London one – which the uncompromising Nicole is reported not to like – better food, seemingly wider and better wine list. Even the staff is French, and speaks with the singing Southern accent. Nice air-conned terrace
- The new Prada commercial film for their Candy fragrance (pictured), with Lea Seydoux. Huge congrats to the casting director, as one could not have dreamt a better muse than 28-year old Leo Seydoux. Great pastel colours, beautiful decors, spot on universe – the match is made in heaven between Wes Anderson (who treats comedy extra-seriously says Seydoux) and Prada. And congrats to the male characters of this film, Peter Gadiot and Rodolphe Pauly, on whom I wondered until the end of the film if they were one single actor. Bravi to the contemporary Jules and Jim, the late Stephane Hessel must be happy!
- Elie Semoun en Valérie Bonnasse, au Grand Journal de Canal + - pendant les vacances de la Miss Meteo en charge (Doria Tillier, tiens son nom est prononçable cette année...), les plus grands comiques français se succèdent pour faire rire Denisot et Daphné Bürki. Semoun est ex-cep-tion-nel. Pour tous ceux qui ne l’ont pas vu, et tous ceux qui habitent a l’étranger, suivez le lien YouTube
- Zuma, in Dubai – another place for Dubai high life, and probably one of the few ones where I have accepted to get a 7.30pm dinner booking – this is not even aperitivo time, indeed! Transformation réussie – the food is impeccable as always, and our table at the entrance of the lounge, close to the DJ (one of the best spots) allowed us to see and be seen. And guess what, we beat the second and even the third service, and kept the table all night. Special mention for the chicken wings, the Sechuan pepper beef, and of course, the black cod
Je n’ai pas aimé:
- Darty: le contrat de confiance, disent-ils – et vont même jusqu’à appeler leur ligne Twitter @Confianciologue. Clearly, I must have missed something. Au moment de l’achat – pour moi une machine à laver – tout est rosy: on me livre le lendemain (plage horaire de 3 heures, plutôt bien), on branche ma machine et on me reprend l’ancienne. Pas né de la dernière pluie, je demande un numéro au cas où le livreur ne serait pas à l’heure. Le vendeur prend un air indigné (“Monsieur, il SERA à l’heure, pas besoin”). Résultat: le lendemain soir, retour à minuit chez moi pour trouver ma vieille machine à sa vieille place et la nouvelle sans protection au milieu de mon salon sur ma moquette toute neuve. 2 heures (bout à bout), 6 coups de fil avec 6 interlocuteurs différents dont aucun ne pouvait rien me dire ni n’a pris la peine de me prier de l’excuser (ni même de s’excuser!!) et une visite au magasin Darty plus tard, j’ai enfin ma machine. Moralité: prévoir si vous devez absolument aller chez Darty un day off le lendemain pour pouvoir gérer les problèmes que risquera de poser votre livraison. La confiance, quoi...
Je n’ai pas tranché sur:
- Une heure de tranquillité, de Florian Zeller avec Fabrice Lucchini et quelques autres – de toute façon, à moins d’être le meilleur ami de Florian Zeller ou du concierge du théâtre, vous n’aurez pas de place. Il est de certaines pièces comme des capsules Nespresso, on les achète sans vraiment y penser. Une fois qu’on y est ce n’est pas mal. Du Zeller plaqué sur du Lucchini, et c’est plutôt un compliment. Le pitch est simple: un amateur de jazz (Lucchini) revient des Puces où il vient de trouver un disque intouvable qu’il cherchait depuis trente ans. Et cherche une heure de tranquillité pour l’écouter. Et bien sûr, sa femme, sa maitresse, son ouvrier, son fils et son meilleur ami se liguent, sans le savoir et sans le vouloir pour l’en empêcher. On passe un bon moment mais on ressort en se demandant ce qu’on y a gagné. Un bon moment, justement...
- GS Elevator Gossip (@GSElevator), a parodic Twitter account that aims at making fun of some ready-made thoughts that are usually associated with the City or Wall Street. Examples: "Kids today are retarded because they don't have to answer home landlines and make awkward smalltalk with their friends' parents". But also sometimes shocking...
- Sipp, a nice wine shop in Knightsbridge, recently re-opened, that does not look, for once, like a greasy spoon. Nice and polite people, good chilled champagne until 9pm (the only reason why you would not be able to stop there would be if you are REALLY late to your dinner party), they also organise events and tastings. Good address!
- the new Eurostar website - clear, concise and efficient. And big improvement, you can now change your tickets online. Well done!
- the Special-T Nespresso machine - not very well publicised, has been in existence for two years. About 25 different types of teas, infusions, green teas and other rooibos - and the machine recognises from the capsule the type of tea and adapts automatically water temperature for perfect infusion
- la soirée Roland Petit à l'Opera Garnier (Paris) - bien sûr, l'interprétation d'Aurelie Dupont et de Stéphane Bullion "ne fait pas oublier Roland et Zizi", mais Carmen était de très honnête qualité. Félicitations aussi, comme d'hab, à Nicolas Le Riche, le Jeune Homme du Rendez-vous de Prévert. En attendant la très belle soirée à Garnier l'année prochaine
- Benjamin Biolay. Y suis allé peu motivé par l'artiste que je ne connaissais pas très bien, mais curieux d'une nouvelle expérience. Depuis j'ai téléchargé deux de ses albums, que j'écoute en boucle. Chanteur très doué, musicien hors pair. Et en plus il a l'air sympathique
- On a re-tué Pamela Rose - suite à l'article épouvantable du Figaro sur les comédies françaises, dont je n'avais pas vu une seule, j'ai voulu me rendre compte. Eh bien, ce n'est pas si mal. Nostalgiques des Nuls et de la Cité de la Peur, allez-y, vous ne serez pas déçus - en revanche, la traduction anglaise de l'avion, heureusement, n'était que sous-titrée!
- Chez Georges, rue du Mail, near Place des Victoires. Probably as good as you get in terms of good quality French classical cuisine. Adorable service. Vin à la ficelle (you pay what you drink). Everything was excellent but special mention to the green beans. Yes, green beans, you read well
Je n'ai pas tranché sur:
- La Cenerentola, at the Opera Garnier - the first fifteen minutes of boths acts were painful at best, with Cendrillon's sisters having a hoarse voice at best. The rest is a bit lighter, particularly the beautiful decors by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle
- Kavinsky - like the legend (a rich guy that crashes his Testa Rossa and reinvents himself twenty years later as an electronic music guru) but a bit more doubtful about the music (Night Call OK but the latest one is Clayderman-meet-Jean-Michel Jarre)
Fred Eerdekens is a newcomer at the Pascal Lansberg Gallery. Born in 1951, this Belgian by birth likes to play with words, twist them and turn them. He is right in the line of a Marcus Raetz, whose works have different meanings depending on the position from where you look at them
Pascal Lansberg presents at the PAD a very nice "This will change everything" copper writing, almost a surah. Pictured is another one, probably wittier
To be followed, in Dubai (Gallery Isabelle van den Eynde)
The excellent and innovative Galerie Diane de Polignac is showing a stand (almost) entirely dedicated to Guy de Rougemont. The gallery focuses on Scandinavian furniture from the 50s and more and more on specific production series by living artists
Amongst those, Guy de Rougemont is definitely the most experienced one. Designer of the Table Nuage, made famous by Henri Samuel in the 70s - one of which is proposed here on another stand -, Rougemont revisits for Diane his now classical cloudy and curly shapes
Loved these as pictured, that can be used as a side table, or an ad hoc stool
6000 euros each
Parisians become like Londoners. They queue. They spend their Saturday afternoon queuing. And even in queues, privileges still remain
As far as I am concerned, I hate queuing. Or rather I don't do queuing, as one dear American friend of mine once told me. Or if I do queuing, it is always VIP queues. Or the shortest one. The one for people with some kind of privileges
This is how I was rationalising my queuing in a cold Saturday afternoon that was the penultimate day of the Frida Kahlo exhibition at the Musee de l'Orangerie in Paris. Meno male che non piove, per verità
Is Kahlo alone, or Kahlo and Rivera? I did not know this as the two of them are so undissociable. Montaigne et La Boetie. Castor et Pollux. Abel et Cain. Yes, Abel et Cain rather
The first room is cubist. One can be anywhere. This is Rivera’s pre-Kahlo period, one that is less well known of this big (in both meanings) artist's life. But the exhibition really starts with the Casa Azul. Or rather a sort of awkward representation of it. This will be the main nest of the couple, which is at the same time a great pair, artistically, politically, personally
I am eager to see if this exhibition will go in detail on Diego's murals - but how to transport them?, on their relationship with Trotsky, whether it will render the uncomparable atmosphere of the real Casa Azul in Coyoacan – one of the most charming areas of Mexico DF –, or that of the San Francisco school of arts that owes a lot to Rivera
The first real room of the exhibition is a cabinet de curiosites on the couple's life. Drawings, sketches, Frida's painted genealogical tree. Interesting but I pass quickly. Next room is the real deal. It proved later to be the only room...
But I cannot find the First Painting. In the bus, I think it is called. It describes Frida's accident, which was the first step towards her life as a painter. Or rather her life before the accident, painted five or six years later I believe. No trace either of these deeply moving paintings which show her with a broken spin, replaced by a machine gun, or her dying in a hospital. Kahlo always paints her personal, intimate story (“I don’t paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality”). Here, lots of portraits. We are one step further. But I feel the exhibition has jumped over some important moments
I am attracted to El difuntito Dimas Rosas, a los tres anos de edad. This deeply moving but Kahlo-awkward technically painting looks like Kehinde Wiley. Templon, nous voici
Hurray. In the bus. L'autobus en francais. The only painting by Kahlo where she does not represent herself broken, shattered, a pezzi. This bus is a soothing piece. The only one Kahlo painted
On the opposite wall, lots of portraits by Rivera. Dolores Patino, her biggest collector and patron, lots of Indians, Lalane the poet. All interesting pieces but the link between those and with Frida's works is unclear
Back to a Frida wall. Corazon, cactus y feto (s.d.) is also a major one. And so is Flor de la vida (1944). We sort of have penetrated in the lair of a Mexican Doctor Who. El circulo (1950) looks like the ancestor of Hirst's spin painting. Small size
On the back wall, Kahlo's still lives. In no particular order. Difficult to get around and about
In the middle of the big room, there is another room. Peculiar set up but why not? Near the entrance, Retrato de Luther Burbank, a la maniere des Surrealist painters. This is a corpse, giving birth to a tree trunk, giving birth to tree leaves, giving birth to a man, Luther Burbank. Who is, appunto, a horticulturist. The circle of life, if we want to paraphrase two of her titles
I step into the central sanctuary of the exhibition. It IS a sanctuary. All Kahlo's main paintings are here. La columna rota (1944, pictured) to show her post her bus accident. A machine gun as plaster, what's not to like? La mascara de la locura (1945). The madness of her passion for Diego, twice married, and separated once more. A few auto-portraits with a small monkey. Symbol of death, isn't it? Mi nana y yo (1937), symbol of her happy childhood with her native American nanny. Sin esperanza (1945) where she pukes her bowels. Sublime Henry Ford hospital (1932) where she represents the impossibility for her to give birth. And finally the most bloody of all, Unos quantos piquetitos (1935) where she represents herself in her bedroom, victime of a contemporary serial killer
I don't want to leave the sanctuary as the exhibition is already finished. It was short, not always crisp. But I would have queued even more to see more iconic pieces of the divine Kahlo. My only regret is that they have not been more paintings, and more on the political engagement of the famous-infamous couple. This kind of exhibition should be didactic, and I feel for whoever did not know anything of their life, they have not learnt much more.
My other regret? Not to have posted this early enough for those who have not yet seen it, still to be able to visit the exhibition. But I am sure there will be another Kahlo exhibition shortly, somewhere in Europe. I shall be quicker next time
As I get into Palais de Tokyo for the penultimate day of Parreno, I realise a few things have changed: 1) the location of the desk; 2) the entrance fee, which I believe was inexistent before (but maybe I am wrong?); and 3) the permanent pieces that were supposed to stay forever have disappeared, at least on the ground floor near the entrance
Never mind, I want to see what Parreno has made off the Palais de Tokyo. What a luxury to have such a massive space, in the cosy heart of Paris, that is transformable as one likes it, and offers so many possibilities. For the record, it is now a delicious restaurant (I have improved considerably my opinion on Monsieur Bleu compared to my review in its first week of existence in spring), and a multi-purpose concert hall, underground and brand new
Tout est illusion, in Parreno's world. The entrance itself is part of the exhibition. My earlier comment of the entrance desk having moved was correct. It has been moved by Parreno himself, to create contre-jour with employees and visitors. And if the permanent works of art that populated the Palais when it re-opened in 2012 have disappeared, it is to allow Parreno to blur the windows (see picture). We are isolated from the outside, visually as well
56 Flickering Lights are disseminated throughout the ground floor. Hold on, this is called floor 2. They switch on and off at the silent rhythm of Tchaikovsky's Petrushka. Why Petrushka? No idea. The story of a puppet that comes to life. It cannot be random
I step into Parreno's world, feeling like the Mad Hatter penetrating in a world that is already too big for me. As I move nearer the gigantic screen towards the silent head of a new born (Anna, don't confuse this with the film, Hannah...), I am able to see the screen less and less. Playing on contrasts, Parreno turns upside down our beliefs and dwarfs us. Bad for self-esteem. Good to lose arrogance. And hold on, the screen is clear. I can see through it. Can I walk through it? Am not sure. Close, it looks like shutters in a house in La Baule
Next space, musical. As I get closer the piano shuts up, which does not seem to disturb the 30-odd people religiously sitting on the dirty staircase that leads to nowhere. We are in Liam Gillick's Factories in the snow, where a disklaviers piano is being snowed at. There is no other way to say this. And the snow is black. Why would it not be? Funnily I have a very similar piano at home. It plays without a pianist. Judging by the astonishment on people's face, it is the first time they see one. Funny
Petrushka sounds like a well-educated and polished Bela. Bartok I mean. Two German couples are here. Was machen sie hier? Keine Ahnung... I would not have thought it would be an appealing exhibition for foreigners. And they don't look a bit like contemporary art rats. Mystery...
The piano shuts up again. I decide to move, carrying away some black snow with me
The next room is even more Alice in Wonderland fantasy. I am going through Dominique Gonzalez-Forrester's bookshelves as Alice was crossing the mirror. Just to find a changing exhibition where every day a drawing by Cage is replaced with a drawing by Cunningham (in case you have lost the link, Merce Cunningham’s troop of dancers danced Petrushka in New York, and this ballet is one Parreno wants to pay a tribute to). This took place in Margaret Roeder Gallery in 2002 and is simply re-enacted here. Why not?
As I exit the clandestine, geheimnisvoll, room of drawings, the light in the main space has disappeared. Great. The big colourful boards on the wall, which look like a hybrid between Vermeersch and Rutault when the light was on, now become understandable. And visible. Of course, one needs the light to disappear to see. How did I not think about it first. Renseignements pris, these are Parreno's old projects. His ghosts to some extent. That appear only in the dark. La boucle est bouclée, as the light brusquely reappears
With the light back on, I can see the robot that mimicks Parreno's handwriting. Only Delvoye's now famous machine is missing....
Down on the first floor, following some more flickering lights. And off to the Marquee. That is, a collection of 16 suspended neon lighted shapes that switch on and off alternatively, each with their specific sound. The lights flash on the rhythm of Tchaikovsky's music. C’est l'art total. I catch myself thinking about the amount of technology necessary to make this appear all that simple. Amazing
The rotonda, next, is soundtracked with the noise of the steps of Cunningham's dancers – here comes the link. C'est la non-danse at its paroxysm. Longue vie à Jerome Bel! And all this under the ultimate equations of I-cant-remember-whom (back home, Wikipedia is telling me Laurent Derobert), the only permament piece that I have been able to spot so far
Marilyn is recreated on a clear screen through a camera (the look), a robot (the handwriting) and a computer (the voice). But why on earth this fake snow - whitish this time - in the room's corners?
I love the automated doors (see next post). Of course, they don't open on anything. That would be too simple. But when they open, the sound of neighbouring Paris embankments get heard in the room... Eh non, Monsieur, Monsieur Bleu (the entrance of which is in the same room) is not part of the exhibition... Un malin, celui-la
Another piano, another Petrushka
Furthermore than the wood of Marquees, the Continuously Habitable Zones (C.H.Z), shown on another film, look like Baudelaire's forest of Correspondances. They echo the noise in the ground underneath the Palais de Tokyo, whilst this deeply imbricated garden has been created in Portugal. Still feel like the mad hatter, running to my non-birthday party
Where one of the guests may be Annlee. "Which you can write whatever way you want" shouts a loudspeaker. She is the virtuality of one of the last spaces of this exhibition. That turns into reality, incarnated by a not-more-than-eleven years old Lolita, of flesh and bone, that wanders around in the exhibition. In front of a manga-like film. I am going to sit down. Maybe the bravest of the visitors will think I am part of the exhibition too? I feel like Orozco policemen...
Last floor down (I love going down, in the bowels of the earth, to dicover always more and more of this superb exhibition). Some intra space is locked down. Looks like the Penguin's headquarters in Batman. And another wood. Of screens with Zidane's image on each of them. 17 screens showing what 17 cameras have captured in a football match in 2005. Zidane as a piece of art. This is not the first time
It is over, and I am still followed by the Flickering Lights as I go back up from the arty catacombes. Brilliant show, which you have until tomorrow Sunday 12 January to see
And oh, one piece of recommendation to Ms Filipetti, French minister of culture: why not select Philippe Parreno for Monumenta 2015? I am sure someone has already thought about it. But it is not sure if he will accept...
Out of the World
Palais de Tokyo, Paris
Until Sunday 12 January 2014, midnight
- the new email search function in iOS 7: type a word and all the emails including that particular word will appear, in decreasing order of importance (ie first the emails that have this word in the recipient / sender, then in subject, then in the body of the email). This in and of itself is a good solace for the rest of iOS 7 which has so many shortcomings and bugs. And for the next must-have improvement: a Blackberry-type categorisation of contacts (the iPhone one drives me absolutely crazy…)
- Mary Goodnight: in lieu of Tse, the now deceased awful Thai canteen opposite the Murat, porte d'Auteuil in Paris, Thiou, of Thiou-and-tigre-qui-pleure-et-qui-nourrit-tous-les-politiques-de-la-place fame, has dropped her suitcases. And this is a revolution. Delicious and original salmon carpaccio, excellent thai beef salad with noodles, good (but still perfectible) crying tiger (…), over friendly staff, and a very spacious terrace, this is a lot better, and completely of the right caliber to steal customers away from le Murat opposite, the quality of which has gone downhill over the years
- l'excellentissime interview de Fabrice Lucchini au Figaro Magazine - tellement drole et finalement assez en ligne avec ce que beaucoup n'osent pas dire
- Nano, the new canteen in Montorgueil designed by Ora-Ito (14 rue Bachaumont, Paris 2e, pictured). Simple principle: you pick as many small verrines as you like, savoury or sweet, warm or cold, they range from salmon tartare to scallop risotto, from quinoa tabouleh to duck parmentier. Plus delicious soups and sandwiches
Je n'ai pas aimé:
- the lack of updates of the Luxe City Guides - once the best dinner or birthday present one could make, they have turned into a bit of a disappointment owing to lack of updates (and the very in the know feature of the advice was precisely their main attraction) and lack of new cities being available. Schade!
- the closure of Gare du Nord's Grand Voyageur lounge in the week ends - what? Why cannot one be a Grand Voyageur on Saturdays?
- Canal +, altogether. I have been a subscriber since the first day of the channel. 5 times over the last 4 weeks, I have reactivated my rights (which already prompts the question, why did I need to do this?). 5 times, I failed to receive the encrypted TV channel. Tired and annoyed by the time wasted, I decide to send my cancellation letter: no problem sir, you will be disconnected in October 2014. What are the consumers' right associations doing??
Je n'ai pas tranché sur:
- the St James hotel in Trouville sur Mer, Calvados - very charming little hotel, a stone's throw away from the beach. Most of the 10 bedrooms nicely refurbished, very Laura Ashley style; ueber-helpful man of the house Christian, advising on nice nearby restaurants but also cooking excellent breakfast. All in all very charming, if you are in the suite (room 9) or one of the largest bedrooms (1, 4, 5 or 8). Not in one of the simple rooms. Could do with a mini-bar in the rooms, and a larger drawing room, but all in all a very pleasant alternative to soul-less Barriere colony, and very affordable (www.hotel-saint-james.fr)
Je veux essayer:
- Hotel Montaigne, the relatively new hotel opened right next to Bar des Theatres, avenue Montaigne, in Paris. Whether for a shopping week end, or for a drink before or after the great Theatre des Champs-Elysees, this hotel, decorated by Pierre-Yves Rochon, may provide the right place to chill. Will try it soon (www.montaigne-hotel.com)
La salle est noire. Noire totale. Comme avant la dernière pièce de Claude Régy. Mais j’espère que ce sera moins ch****. C’est la rentrée théâtrale. La mienne en tous cas. Claude Duparfait apparait progressivement dans le coin gauche de la scène. Dans le fauteuil à oreilles. Je regarde ma voisine. Elle ne dort pas encore. Moi non plus. La soirée s’annonce bien
On n’est pas censé pouvoir jouer les pièces de Thomas Bernhard, même si ses héritiers se sont liberes eux-memes de cette aggressive disposition testamentaire de celui qui, toute sa vie durant, a entretenu une relation d’amour-haine avec l’Autriche et les Autrichiens. Est-ce pour cela que l’on adapte en pieces ses romans? Holzfaellen, traduit – mal, forcément – par Woodcutters en anglais et Des arbres a abattre en francais, est le sujet de ce qui nous reunit ce soir
Il y a evidemment quelque chose de Thomas Bernhard en Claude Duparfait. Il suffit de l’entendre parler sur le theatre pour l’imaginer sans peine raler sur un grand nombre de sujets, y compris le theatre. A La Colline, des le debut de la piece, les gens rient. Pourquoi? Holzfaellen n’est pas une piece drole selon moi. C’est un appel au secours qui revet la forme d’une litanie. L’Autriche est ici metaphoriquement representee par un petit groupe d’intellectuels mais c’est bien de l’Autriche qu’il s’agit, sur laquelle Duparfait-Bernhard deverse son fiel. En commencant bien sur par la main qui l’a nourri, trente ans auparavant. Le compositeur Gerhard Lampersberg a tente de faire interdire le livre, se reconnaissant en Auersberger. N’est-ce pas la ce que l’on appelle desormais le syndrome Barbara Streisand?
Je n’aime pas les traductions. Celle-ci ne fait pas exception. Je me demande toujours pourquoi les gens supportent de lire ou de voir des representations traduites alors que cela fait a peu pres vingt ans que plus personne ne regarde les versions francaises des nanars de Tom Cruise au cinema. Mystere. Ici, on parle toujours de la Joana (dont l’enterrement le matin meme sert de pretexte au roman dont est tiree cette piece). Tournure typiquement allemande. Pourquoi l’avoir conservee? Je me perds en conjecture. Mais il faut revenir a la piece
De salon des Verdurin germanophone, la scene progresse vers une aggression cadencee. “Vous m’avez adresse la parole par derriere” accuse Madame Auersberger. Ca sonne comme une attaque. Duparfait est excellent sur scene. Mais mal servi par un texte, ou plutot par une intrigue, inexistants. Meme en connaissant le parti-pris misanthrope de Thomas Bernhard, on se prend a chercher une explication a cette haine de l’autre. Ce qui frappe aussi chez Duparfait, c’est l’intensite de son jeu, alors meme qu’il reste assis dans le fauteuil a oreilles, sans presque bouger, que le visage. On l’imagine dans Oh les beaux jours. Mais il n’a pas fini de tirer sa journee... Ou nous, notre soiree
A ce moment la de la piece, un regain d’espoir nous gagne. Duparfait semble amorcer une explication de son exil, des premisses de la situation presente. On s’attend a ce que l’intrigue se noue. Mais on est vite decus. La psychanalyse de l’auteur continue sur scene. On pense a Koltes et a sa Nuit juste avant les forets, formidable piece, pour le monologue. Pirandello n’est pas loin, on est quand meme face a des personnages qui parlent d’eux-memes. Maupassant non plus, et le raccourci d’Auersberger en Auersberg, pllus aristocratique, n’est pas sans rappeler celui de Georges Duroy, devenu du Roy, lorsqu’il decide de s’attacher Canteleu, patelin ou il naquit, devenu Cantel, pour incarner Georges du Roy de Cantel, dans les dernieres pages de Bel-Ami. Ca me rappelle une anecdote avec Sacha Guitry...
On parle beaucoup d’Ibsen. Les chandeliers sur la scene, majestueux, rappellent le feu des Revenants. J’aime les clins d’oeil de la mise en scene, j’aime le jeu des acteurs – les seconds roles sont extraordinaires, avec une mention speciale pour Annie Mercier (pictured, avec Claude Duparfait). Mais apres une heure vingt, on cherche toujours un sens
La musique fait son entree, avec la sonate d’Auersberger. On atteint la le paroxysme du cliche: le compositeur, soi-disant avant-gardiste, joue une sonate qui serait a mi-chemin entre un Britten dodecaphonique, et la musique d’accompagnement de la non-danse de Jerome Bel. Je ne peux m’empecher de penser a ces phrases, si souvent entendues a propos d’art contemporain: “Je pourrais te faire le meme”, ou mieux encore “Mon fils de quatre ans a fait quelque chose de plus beau”. Cette sonate marque la fin de mes espoirs, en ce sens qu’elle confirme l’adhesion de l’auteur aux lieux communs. On pourrait etre a Edouard VII
La tension remonte, et rencontre un moment de pur extase: le bolero de Ravel. Sauf qu’il vient un peu comme un cheveu sur la soupe, on ne sait pas pourquoi. En realite, madame Auersberger le met pour rendre hommage a “la Joana” dont c’est la musique preferee. Mais le lien logique n’est pas ici present. A moins que je n’aie ferme les yeux cinq minutes. La encore, la mise en scene est interessante: un leger rideau blanc recouvre la scene, et fait revivre des souvenirs en video. Puis on convoque Sartre: “Les hommes sont un poison l’un pour l’autre”
Une dizaine de minutes avant la fin, on a un peu l’impression que ca bouge: le fauteuil a oreilles livre ses pensees, Madame Auersberger sous-entend une idylle avec Bernhard (dont on n’a en realite jamais vraiment su si et avec qui il avait jamais eu une idylle), le mepris pour la creation du compositeur refait surface. L’exil a Londres et le retour masochiste pour l’enterrement de Joana ne seraient-ils en fait que le moyen d’accepter un exil qui n’etait pas voulu? Et si Bernhard le misanthrope, l’Autrichien haineux des Autrichiens qui fit sortir pendant un de ses discours plusieurs ministres et membres du gouvernement tant ses critiques contre l’Autriche etaient virulentes, si Bernhard, disais-je, n’avait pas rejete, mais avait ete rejete?
On y reflechira plus tard. Pour ce soir c’est trop tard. Je me suis ennuye. Malgre le jeu et la mise en scene impeccables
Des arbres a abattre
D’apres Holzfaellen de Thomas Bernhard
Theatre National de la Colline
Mise en scene Cecile Pauthe et Claude Duparfait
Jusqu’au 28 septembre 2013
When driving up there, one crosses awful little villages that have been destroyed by human greed and utter need to spend conges payes on the French Riviera. Upon arrival, the landscape changes and becomes more green - but everything looks and feels uber-organised. 15 euros to get in, 5 euros to take photos. The whole space is taken over by philo-superstar BHL’s Les aventures de la verite exhibition. But when entering the garden, the same Chillida, Hepworth, Calder, Leger and other artists that have greatly contributed to build the Maeght family reputation
But let's start with this summer most talked about exhibition. It is supposed to show the links between Art and Philosophy - and has attracted a number of half-celebs, some of them having had the privilege of Monsieur Levy in person
First room, the entrance. The curse of the shadows. The common theme seems to be Plato and his cave. Otherwise, what is there in common between Morandi, transformist British artist Grayson Perry and Beuys's Fettfleck (fat stain) for instance? In the second half of the first room, a few interesting and surprising pieces. An etching showing the birth of painting by Joseph-Benoit Sauvée looks stunning: a girl draws her fiance's shadow on a wall before he leaves. Perhaps the most relevant piece in this first room. At this point, the links between shadows, the cave, Plato and the artists appear magically clear. And I am surprised not to see a Soulages here. Too easy perhaps? Huang Yong Ping's Plato cavern is stunning: through a very small hole, one can see inside a humongous resin grotto, with bats shadows, and buddhas and talibans... Makes one think
Moving to room 2, excitement grows. The artist has fallen in Plato's cave. How to make him (her?) worthy again? BHL summons the Bible and Veronica, who gave Jesus her veil on Via Dolorosa. If Jesus himself has printed his face on Veronica's veil, it means that printing images can be holy after all. Again in room 2, this is not a contemporary piece that draws my attention, but a piece by Mignard, Saint Luke painting the Virgin. Again, BHL chooses a theme (revolving around Veronique), and goes around it: after multiple representations of Veronique, and her veil, the veil alone with pieces by Tapies and the more confidential Wolfgang Gaefgan. At times though, it goes a bit too far: not every woman with a light piece of clothing can be called a Veronique, and I can't help wondering why Fortuny's Nudo femminile di spalle has found its way in this otherwise stunning show. Moving down, there is a Garouste. One of my favourite painters. But suddenly afterwards, for the Bonnard nude, the leaflet shows BHL's cheekiness: perhaps the curator has left his imagination run, it says. Yes, he has, and we are relieved - but not surprised - that he realises and acknowledges it. Room 2 ends majestuously, with mimeographed images of Jackie O, still Jackie K, on a printed veil, by Warhol
At this point, what strikes me beyond the mere thinking process behind assembling these pieces, is the multiplicity of their origins - as if the curator had taken a universal catalogue of all the world's works of art of all times
The pre-room 3 is less clear. It is the third act of the first two: 1) the artists were in the dark, 2) the artists come to light, and 3) the artists retaliate and send the philosophers to the shadows. Baldessari OK, Sophie Calle why not - although the philosophical link is a bit tenuous - but Picabia and Abramovic, not really here. Let's move on. The rest of room 3, although displaying beautiful pieces - Ensor, Garouste again, Leger, Pei-Ming, Basquiat, to name a few - has no immediate link with the story BHL wants to tell us. N'importe, let's continue, and let's perhaps forget about wanting to rationalise a story
Room 4 is no clearer in terms of fil conducteur of the story - but again one is amazed by the universality of the artists shown here. Kiefer, Soulages - not the most relevant to make BHL's points - Meese, Ellsworth Kelly, dear to the Maeght's heart, even Opalka are summonned to tell the philosophical story. The story though becomes pointillist, we seem no longer invited to the grand show of the philosophical history, but to a concatenation of small stories, the sum of which represents our curator's message. And when the ingredients are as prestigious and stunning as those here, we have to abide
In room 5, art wins by KO over philosophy. Is BHL really a philosopher? But hold on, there are still two rooms to go? Room 5 is a good cliffhanger: what is coming next, I catch myself worrying, climbing the steps to room 6?
Expectedly, in room 6, philosophy wins back. And the story becomes clearer. Man Ray is called to help, so are Duchamp and his many portraitists, Klein and his blue sculptural portraits, a brilliant Sol LeWitt and an ueber-witty Burgin (Lei Feng, 1974). There is also talk of Isidore Isou and Guy Debord, with their inspirator Gabriel Pomerand. On pressent une fin heureuse. What if room 7 was to put philo and art on an equal footing?
Here comes room 7 - and final. Lots of colours. And the expected truce. Art and philosophy are good friends after all, and BHL, in this magnificent exhibition has shown that he can master both, very impressively. Let's look around us: Matisse, Arroyo, Vezzoli, Boucher, Bacon, Giacometti, Barcelo, Basquiat again, Tintoretto, BHL has invited a who's who of ancient, modern and contemporary creation to the reconciliation of art and speech. And he has even set the scene, by Immendorff. What could the scene be, if not Le Flore (pictured)? Mister Levy, you are cheeky – of course not the best piece of this extraordinary exhibition, but such a wink that I had to show it
What I have attended in the last three hours (yes, three hours) is really a parcours initiatique. It is a didactic way to teach philosophy from art, by underlining one philosophical interpretation that artists may or may not have wanted to give their works. It is artistico-philosophical exegesis, where BHL takes us by the hand and leads the way. Well done, you have given me the urge to read Plato, Nietzsche and Heidegger again
Les aventures de la verite, curated by Bernard-Henri Levy
Saint-Paul de Vence, South of France
Until 11 November 2013
Paris. July. Big sun. What big? Huge sun. More than 35 degrees. Decided to leave the pool and work on my general culture
After a failed attempt at Fondation Cartier - given the queue, I did my usual trick of wanting to become a mecene, and entering with the card. Unfortunately there was no one to take donations and the guard at the entrance sounded as if he could hardly understand why a French man in shorts would come on a sunny Saturday afternoon to the middle of Denfert-Rochereau to give a cheque to a foundation and not even want to see the exhibition. Was he so wrong after all?
So I decide to head to La Maison Rouge. Recurring readers would already know all the good I think of La Maison Rouge. This is one of the top 3 contemporary art places in Paris for me. And they are always so innovative - and so nice. 4 exhibitions a year, this one is the summer one. My Joburg. And it is about Johannesburg. This belongs to the cycle of unusual artistic cities, the first of which was last year's My Winnipeg - OK, they could have been more original with the title. I still have not convinced the team there to do a whole show on Kluj, Hungary. But I am resilient, watch out for the Hungarian scene in....2020
Back to Jozi. I only know three artists from there: Goldblatt, William Kentridge (which I missed at the Comedie Francaise last week but saw in Rio a few months ago) and Robin Rhode. All photographers, at least partially. All of whom I stopped short of buying a couple of years ago. Should probably have. Inside the exhibition, one is greeted by a gigantic collection of photos by Mikhael Subotzky and Patrick Waterhouse (no, the other Waterhouse...) - a systematic photo of each window and door of Ponte City, flagship Joburg building. Reminds me straightaway of the beautiful Goldblatt photos that Marian Goodman showed 2-3 years ago in Paris. Intimacy through a window. A recurring SouthAf theme?
Am a bit skeptical on the opening installation by Malcomess and Kreutzfeld (a curious name association I have to say): apart from their index map which is vaguely reminiscent of some of the work Gilles Barbier does on words, this looks like some has opened Amelie Poulain's box and pinned all the contents on a grey wall in a pretty disorderly fashion. Next
Next are films and photos on Joburg as a city, including some of the great David Goldblatt, even though I prefer those taken inside and looking at the city through windows, with multiple layers of images. These would be amongst his most recent work, post 2010. Sue Williamson's video box, walking the passer-by through the difficulties of the immigrants to South Africa post Mandela elections, is incredibly reminiscent of the work Gillian Wearing did on her family, not least because you see a film of the two witnesses in front of you, they speak and yet they do not move the lips. But they move still, it is not a photo. Unfortunately what they are saying is the common lot of most immigrants to anywhere
I like Sabelo Mlangeni's series on female street cleaners, "the invisible women". Don't know why but it reminds me of some of the scenes of the excellent Reunification des Deux Corees by Pommerat last year
First quasi-revelation of this exhibition, Europa by Nandipha Mntambo, representing her with a buffalo head. Interesting to walk inside Nitegeka series of Obstacle - you feel oppressed straightaway. What is striking in Kudzanai Chiurai (also represented by Marian Goodman) painting is that at first glance, the black characters do not show up; one sees a nice Mickey Mouse. But second glance: plenty of black figures with worrying faces - why are they smiling? Are they playing tricks? - so one's look goes back to the reassuring Mickey Mouse. But here again, wrong impression: Mickey seems to have huge teeth, be part of the whole plot and not really well-meaning. So interesting! I also love his portraits of imaginary SouthAf government - very close to Kehinde Wiley portraits... Telling
Gerhard Marx' Scion is the black version of Penone's Respirare l'ombra. Two opposite and not categorised forms of land art
Willen Boshoff's Nice Guys has attracted my curiosity: from the far, the most disgusting collection of ties. Come nearer, each tie is associated with the name of "nice guy" - ranging from Charles Manson to Saddam Hussein and George W Bush... No comment - and a number, the number of deaths they are supposed to be responsible for...
The next room includes a lot of findings. The textile pieces "à messages" by Lawrence Lemaoana, an old rugbyman born in 1982; the wooden characters carved by Johannes Segogela; or the "deroutés" prints by Brett Murray, using the old apartheid boards to denounce present corruption and clientelism. History repeating... This exhibition is definitely getting increasingly better. The two Cindy Shearman wannabes in the next room are also interesting, as, although they use the same means as Shearman - ie use their own body to impersonate characters or situations - they both choose a different angle of attack. My favorite one: Rose's Mami, 2001
Going through these two series of lesbian portraits by Zanele Muholi is quite impressive: you feel judged immediately, as though they knew what you are thinking. In the next room, the mega-installation by Jane Alexander (pictured), with double "barbeles" and 1000 "machettes" is also scary and although one cannot get inside, it definitely creates a feeling of unease. Are we not experiencing art, justement?
The end of the exhibition is a fireworks, that culminates in the work of the four female artists downstairs. No limit in what they represent and how they say it, although young, they use their hidden nemesis to convey the history of their forefathers
A big thank you to the Maison Rouge team to make us discover, once more, an original artistic scene, that few of us would have otherwise seen
La Maison Rouge, Fondation Antoine de Galbert
10 boulevard de la Bastille, Paris 12e
Until 22 September 2013
- Queen of the Stone Age - the new album by this California-born, rock band founded in 1996 by Josh Homme, and, from the confession of its leader, the one that was most trouble to produce, is called Like Clockwork... And it may work like clockwork in the rich discography (5 albums already) of this charismatic band. There will be some for all tastes, and possibly even more for those who are not long-lasting fans of QOTSA (www.qotsa.com)
- L'Assiette des Mondes - in the countryside near Honfleur, a not so charming house from the outside. Step inside, and you will find the neverending smile of the owner / waitress / chef's wife and a welcome alternative to the traditional cuisine normande. Coming from all over the world, you can taste tajine, curries and fajitas, in an always changing menu. The owners are very present on the web, which is great to make this place better known. Congrats, we had a very good dinner (www.assiettedesmondes.fr)
- Taryn Simon, American-born, Berlin-based artist born in 1974. Her latest series, put together between 2008 and 2011 is called A Living Man declared dead and other Chapters. It is a systematic work about different outside of the ordinary bloodlines (eg rabies-infected rabbits in Australia, family of a terrorist or that of a living man that was declared dead by the authorities, which gives its tongue-in-cheek title to the whole series). Each work is also beautifully presented, in three parts: the first one is the systematic ordering of photos of members of the bloodline, the central part tells the story and the third one collects details - Taryn calls it her footnotes. Was presented a couple of years ago in Berlin's Hauptbanhof, which was a grand setting for this immense work. Pieces available at Almine Rech Gallery in Paris or Brussels, and at Gagosian in London or New York. Or buy the book on her website: www.tarynsimon.com
- la Flambee - good restaurant in the centre of Deauville, with exquisite meat. A good alternative to the Barriere chain
- le Cafe Francais - new Costes outpost in Bastille, Paris, refurbished by India Madhavi. Several rooms, several atmospheres. And an original food menu, with some traditional Costes dishes and some trouvailles, such as cold hake with mayo and pot-au-feu revisited with meatballs. Nice staff, even nicer with the somebodies...
- the Blandings - not enough episodes of Downton Abbey to keep you busy? Try the Blandings, an ITV series with the phenomenal Jennifer Saunders (the crazy one in AbFab). Clearly you won't have the unduplicable Maggie Smith asking "Why does every day involve a fight with an American" when sitting on a rotating chair, but some parts ought to be remembered. Here is a sample:
1) When discussing prospects of a dog food business: "Is Lisbon in America? Not especially. Oh, so much for the better"
2) To her brother wearing a straw hat to go to the Shropshire show: "Hat, patrician bearing and chop chop"
3) After a car crash into a tree: "Oh, this tree has been put there only recently. Please move it back to its original position"
Welcome to stiff upper lip Britland. Attention, Brett's habits and vocabs mandatory here
- seeing people at the airport during the summer holiday season rushing to a boarding gate, just to find out the boarding of their flight had not yet started... Cruel, I know
Je n'ai pas aime:
- that two out of three Parafe cabins - these are the booths that scan your passport and your fingerprints in Paris without having to go through the usual lack of politeness of a custom clerk, great system, registration mandatory - in the busiest CDG terminal (2E) were broken on the busiest day of the year (3 August). Very smartly - unemployment counter measure? - Paris airports put a guy at the entrance of the lonely functioning booth to show people how to place their passport on the reader. Really? Judging by the state of excitement of the woman before me, it may not have been so superfluous... But pls next time, two out of three working would already be a 100% improvement...
Je n'ai pas tranche sur:
- the new-ish Tick & Live FNAC app (French Amazon) - originally a great idea: gather all the tickets bought on Fnac Spectacles (exhibitions, theatre, concerts, etc) in one place on one's iPhone. No need to queue to get them printed (very 19th century once you have booked all on the Internet), no need to pay the price of another ticket to get them sent to your house (when they arrive), no need to fight with your printer or emails to print them at home (when you get to retrieve them). So what is the issue then? Only 1 out of 5 tickets can be downloaded on the app. The rest has to be queued for, sent at home or printed... Once it becomes universal, it will be brilliant
Je veux essayer:
- the Artel Polka Dot tumblers (pictured): dots are being fashionable these days with Kusama designing for Vuitton and Lichtenstein all over the European contemporary art museums. These glasses are designed for the Bohemian glassware company Artel and can be found on www.artelglass.com or www.artedona.com
Rameau etait sans doute un emmerdeur. Reussir, en une vie certes longue, mais tout de meme, a se brouiller avec Lully, son maitre auto-confesse, puis les Italiens, qui s'opposaient au style de Lully, et enfin avec Rousseau et meme d'Alembert.... Il fallait ne pas faire de concessions, ou etre particulierement tatillon. No-nonsense comme disent nos amis britanniques
Qu'aurait donc dit ce Rameau si adule des sa vie durant, de la mise en scene de Jonathan Kent de Hippolyte et Aricie qui sevit en ce moment a Glyndebourne? Le public anglais lui, a a-do-re. Tous les ingredients sont au rendez-vous. William Christie, chantre des Arts Florissants et qui, meme si son expertise est loin de s'arreter la, s'est fait un nom dans la direction de musique baroque. Stephanie d'Oustrac, de l'ecurie Christie, qui malheureusement le soir ou j'y etais, etait indisposee, promeuvant une Diana tout a fait decente (Katherine Watson), si l'on excepte les quelques premieres mesures du prologue. Ed Lyon, dans le role d'Hippolyte, jeune chanteur d'opera improvise recemment porte-parole LGBT a la faveur d'un article de TimeOut, excellent et puissant tenor. Et enfin une Phedre sensationnelle, Katherine Connolly, pour sa quatrieme venue a Glyndebourne depuis 2005
Mais au-dela de la qualite de certains des chanteurs - le lecteur averti aura remarque que je n'ai pas liste ici tous les premiers roles.... - c'est l'originalite extreme des partis pris de mise en scene qui fait d'Hippolyte et Aricie, version Kent, une joie et un etonnement permanents
Le rideau deja. Une tete de viellard chauve et age semble presque immobile, gigantesque, sur le rideau alors que nous nous asseyons. Je pense tout de suite a Roman Opalka. Plutot Messerschmidt me susurre mon voisin. Il a tout a fait raison. Cette tete, fil conducteur de ce premier opera de Rameau, reviendra en chaque acte, et ses expressions, ses grimaces presque, seront autant de signes annonciateurs des sentiments developpes dans la demi-heure qui suit. Posture classique s'il en est - l'avertissement, le prologue, l'introduction - revisitee a la mode videaste contemporaine. J'avoue que, si la video a fait son entree au theatre depuis de nombreuses annees deja (Stanislas Nordey impute le phenomene au moindre cout de la video par rapport aux decors!), c'est la premiere fois que j'ai le plaisir de la voir utilisee, et si bien, sur une scene d'opera
Messerschmidt disparait et on est tout de suite plonge.... dans un refrigerateur. Oui, le combat du prologue, entre Diane et Cupidon se passe dans un refrigerateur geant. Diane sort du compartiment a glacons, Cupidon eclot d'un oeuf. Clin d'oeil du metteur en scene a la fameuse Lady Gaga? Les hommes du coeur sortent de derriere une saucisse geante de cassoulet, une cible sur la poitrine, pour que les suivantes de Diane, qui ne seraient pas deplacees au milieu du bois de Boulogne, en talons hauts et foururre blanche, puissent plus facilement les viser. Qui va gagner, Diane ou Cupidon? C'est clairement le spectateur dans le ballet final du prologue, ou tout le monde se denude jusqu'a un niveau toutefois convenable, et danse en paires - en couples? - pour celebrer le jour de l'annee ou meme Diane doit se ranger a la domination de l'Amour
Ce prologue est presque la partie la plus reussie de l'opera, si l'on excepte les quelques enrouements des dieux et les fautes de temps qui ponctuent les trois premieres minutes
Sans passer au travers de chaque acte - il y aurait beaucoup a dire et la performance vaut tellement qu'il faut y aller, il reste quelques places pour l'ete - un des elements absolument etonnants de cette mise en scene superbe est la communion intense entre tous les arts qu'elle realise. J'ai deja evoque Messerschmidt et Opalka. L'art contemporain se retrouve aussi avec deux scenes tres connues de Dragset et Elmgreen: un corps qui sort d'une morgue, presente par Perrotin a la FIAC 2011, et qui dans l'opera qui nous occupe, represente dans l'acte V, le prelude au mariage des heros; et un corps flottant, face down, dans une piscine, qui represente la mort supposee d'Hippolyte dans l'acte IV
La danse contemporaine ensuite. Voir certaines Parques danser a l'acte IV m'a tout de suite rappele Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker tentant de danser sur Mahler, lors d'une soiree qu'elle aura sans doute voulu oublier, il y a quelques annees au Sadlers' Wells. La scene de l'enfer - saluons au passage les costumes de Pluton et de sa suite, incroyables de couleur et d'originalite, tel un tableau vert et rouge de Chris Ofili, tiens l'art contemporain n'est pas loin, de nouveau - nous ramene a l'Apres-Midi d'un Faune, version Nijinski. Incapable de dire pourquoi, mais l'essence est la
Le theatre, toujours. La trouvaille exceptionnelle de faire assister Thesee a la reunion heureuse et finale du cinquieme acte, mais puni, en silence, dans un coin, les yeux bandes, me transporte instantanement dans Fin de Partie. Hamm, qui ne peut ni voir ni se lever; Clov, qui ne peut pas s'asseoir; Nagg et Nell, parents de Hamm, qui sont bienheureux dans une poubelle, n'ayant pas de jambes; tous ces personnages amputes sont sur la scene, avec un Thesee aveugle, une Phedre ressuscitee, Hippolyte et Aricie qui commencent par ne pas se voir et se tournent autour sur des tables de dissection (la fameuse scene de liesse finale est ici dans une morgue, quel panache!)
L'opera enfin, avec un clin d'oeil scenique, voulu ou non, a un des meilleurs operas de la saison derniere a Paris, A rake's progress, mis en scene par l'excellentissime Olivier Py. Le decoupage de la scene vertical et horizontal, et en coupe, permet au spectateur de voir plusieurs scenes d'une meme maisonnee. On se croirait dans une maison de Barbie. La demultiplication des scenes en simultane, meme si seule une des "cases" chante, permet une continuite dans l'histoire impossible a realiser sans cela. Ce procede de mise en scene est du reste de plus en plus utilise; on l'a vu notamment a Paris aussi dans La Cenerentola ou Hansel et Gretel, rien que l'annee derniere
Que retenir de ce Hippolyte et Aricie donc? Une formidable mise en scene, un decor et des costumes brillants, qui font oublier un certain nombre de couacs et de decalages de mesure. Et au-dela de cela, on retrouve les raisons d'aller a Glyndebourne: ce n'est pas l'excellence des chanteurs, souvent bons, mais rarement excellents, mais c'est l'originalite et l'inventivite qui se degagent des mises en scene. Le public anglais - au contraire du public allemand - est excentrique: dans ses mises, clairement, lorsque l'on voit deambuler des Anglaises sans age qu'on croirait enveloppees dans leurs rideaux de salon - ou de douche parfois -, mais aussi dans ses gouts. Et cet opera, l'un des plus francais qui soient, trouve ici une autre dimension, pan-artistique, a travers l'incroyable ouverture d'esprit britannique
Hippolyte et Aricie, de Jean-Philippe Rameau
Mise en scene: Jonathan Kent
Direction d'orchestre: William Christie (sauf en aout)
Avec Katherine Connolly, Ed Lyon, Stephanie d'Oustrac, Christiane Karg
Glyndebourne Summer Festival
12, 16, 19, 25 juillet et 1, 4, 8, 13, 18 aout 2013
Thomas Ostermeier est un metteur en scène élégant. Quand il met en scène une pièce d'Ibsen, auteur élégant, le résultat est donc forcément élégant. Et c'est bien ce qui s'est passé aux Amandiers pendant ce mois d'avril
Le titre d'abord. Les Revenants. Je n'aime jamais beaucoup les traductions. En anglais, c'est Ghosts, ce qui veut dire bien plus. Et en norvegien, c'est Gengangere - ou plutot Gjengangere - ce qui veut dire: ceux qui marchent à nouveau, ou ceux qui ré-apparaissent. Et c'est bien là un des thèmes centraux de la pièce: la maladie du père Alving revient-elle hanter son fils, la débauche de la mère de Régine revient-elle hanter sa fille. Les morts dans cette superbe pièce reviennent hanter les vivants et sont sur scène au même titre que les autres
La mise en scène, et la scénographie, ensuite. Le décor épuré. Le mobilier nordique - peu contemporain d'Ibsen mais qui donne de la tenue à cette scène des Amandiers qui peut paraitre trop contemporaine. La cloison mobile utilisée pour projeter une video de ce qu'on ne peut voir - quelle bonne idée d'utiliser la video qu théâtre depuis quelques années. L'orphelinat qui brûle, représenté par une toute petite maison sur le devant - signe que l'orphelinat n'est rien, et qu'il fallait qu'il brûle justement
Les comédiens enfin. Même si là, je suis un peu plus mitigé. Eric Caravaca et Mélodie Richard sont impeccables en demi-frère et soeur amoureux. Elle est gouailleuse - ce qui pose un milliard de questions, qu'elle pose d'ailleurs: puisqu'elle est la fille du Senateur Alving aussi, pourquoi ne pas l' "avoir élevée en riche?". Et pourquoi est-elle gouailleuse si elle est aussi noble qu'Oswald qui, lui, respire le fils de famille. Inné, acquis, plus encore que les carcans de la morale bourgeoise dépeints par Ibsen comme par tous les auteurs de sa génération à travers l'Europe, c'est bien cette question de pose la pièce. L'autre grande comédienne de la pièce - l'autre grand rôle devrais-je dire - est Valérie Dréville. Jeune, mais avec de la bouteille: Vitez, Régy, Comédie Française, Godard, artiste associée à Avignon. Seule déception ici: on rit. C'est bien de rire - mais je ne suis pas sûr que ce soit bien de rire sur Ibsen. C'est comme de ne pas rire sur Pinter. Et ce n'est pas une question de convenances, c'en est une d'interprétation, de respect des idées de l'auteur
Cela dit, il y a un défaut beaucoup plus grave encore: la dernière représentation de cette pièce merveilleuse était hier samedi. Alors que la scène ne sera ré-utilisée que le 22 mai, redonnez-nous Ostermeier. Redonnez-nous Ibsen. Redonnez-nous l'hypocrisie victorienne à tendance scandinave. Et un conseil, pourquoi pas. Si le nouveau directeur des Amandiers - qui, compte tenu du travail exceptionnel de Martinelli depuis 12 ans est attendu au tournant - est en panne d'inspiration, il pourra toujours faire revenir les Revenants. Ca se fait, au théâtre....
Les Revenants, d'Henrik Ibsen
Mis en scène par Thomas Ostermeier
Théâtre des Amandiers-Nanterre
Jusqu'au 27 avril, seulement
La salle est vide. Métaphoriquement et physiquement. A part quelque comédien connu qui s’est avéré avoir plus d’yeux pour le décolleté de leur voisine que pour l’excellente mise en scène d’Alain Françon, quelques classes de secondaire (de mon temps, Ibsen n’était pas au programme) et quelques amateurs, beaucoup de chaises vides. Je ne comprends pas pourquoi. L’affiche est superbe : Solness, une des meilleures pièces d’Ibsen ; Ibsen, un des meilleurs auteurs dramatiques du XIXème siècle ; Françon, un des meilleurs metteurs en scène français contemporains ; la Colline, le meilleur théâtre parisien ; Yordanoff et Adeline d’Hermy, parmi les meilleurs comédiens de théâtre vivants. On est overwhelmed
Pas de rideau, encore. Le décor est sobre, classique. D’un minimalisme scandinave. Presque trop contemporain pour cette pièce écrite en 1892. Michel Robin entre sur la scène. Il est magnifique. Robin, c’est un visage que toute la France connaît mais un nom dont personne ne se souvient. Il était un magnifique Nagg sous la direction de Françon déjà, à la Madeleine puis à l’Odéon ; même si on le reconnaît plus pour son rôle de Tocanier dans les Maris, les Femmes, les Amants, ou le père de Corinne Charby la disparue maladroite de la Chèvre. Il a l’élégance de ne faire que passer dans certains grands films français (les Adieux à la Reine, Amélie Poulain, Un long dimanche de fiançailles, ou, il y a plus longtemps, les Mariés de l’An II ou Rabbi Jacob), car on sent que son domaine est le théâtre. Robin est Knut Brovik, l’ancien maître de Solness devenu son assistant par manque de bravado et trop grande discrétion. Je suis sûr que cette histoire-là a dû résonner dans l’esprit de Michel Robin. Le rêve de Brovik est de voir son neveu, entré lui aussi au service du Constructeur, réussir avant sa mort à lui, l’oncle. Pas besoin d’être grand clerc pour deviner qu’il ne sera pas exaucé. C’est cela Ibsen, un auteur chez qui le pire est presque toujours certain. Comme le dira à l’acte III Aline, l’épouse de Solness, « ce sont les petits deuils de la vie qui déchirent le coeur, ceux que les autres estiment n’être presque rien ». Peut-on rêver plus juste analyse ?
Puis, Solness entre. Est-ce important qu’il soit bâtisseur, constructeur ou architecte ? Est-ce que sa profession même est pertinente ? Il semblerait que beaucoup d’exégètes pensassent que oui ; I beg to differ. Wladimir Yordanoff. Encore un inconnu, non ? Si je vous dis le frère de Bacri, député dans Un Air de Famille, tout de suite, vous voyez mieux. Yordanoff, comme Catherine Frot ou Anne Alvaro, tous révélés au grand public par leur participation à la saga Jaoui-Bacri sont avant tout d’immenses comédiens de théâtre
Yordanoff figure d’abord une sorte de Columbo. Il a des airs de sous-Bacri dans Un Air de Famille, justement. Il montre à la fois son expérience et sa puérilité devant la jeunesse, tout d’abord campée par Agathe L’Huillier dont c’est là le retour sur scène depuis la Cerisaie, à la Colline, sous la direction du même Françon en 2009. On se dit que c’est une ruse
Et on touche là au mécanisme même de cette excellente pièce et de sa non moins excellente mise en scène. On pense toujours qu’il se passe quelque chose derrière. Pas derrière la scène, en coulisses. Non. Dans la tête des personnages, dans l’esprit du metteur en scène, dans l’inconscient de l’auteur. On attend quelque chose. Qui n’arrive pas. Mais ce n’est pas grave car on l’aura attendu, et cela aura contribué à tirer sa journée, comme disait Beckett
On est aussi surpris par la contemporanéité de cette pièce qui a plus d’un siècle. Solness dicte une lettre. Il poursuit des jeunes filles de ses assiduités. Les costumes aident probablement cette construction mentale – peut-être aussi l’embonpoint plus que naissant de Yordanoff – mais on se prend à imaginer quelques secondes une pièce de David Mamet, Race par exemple, écrite en 2009 mais montée à Paris juste après l’affaire DSK, en qui tout le monde avait vu une pièce à clé à l’époque. Et justement, Solness a des allures de DSK
La litanie des personnages continue sur scène. Entre Aline Solness, alias Dominique Valadié, encore un membre éminent de l’écurie Jaoui-Bacri-Françon. On dirait Belphégor. Elle flotte sur scène, irréelle, anachronique avec la modernité du reste du casting. Son débit, son intonation, font tout pour la démarquer des autres. Elle, et plus tard le médecin, sont comme ces personnages de tragédies grecques antiques qui sont là pour aider la compréhension ou le commentaire. Un peu à la manière des interventions directes à la caméra de Kevin Spacey dans la version contemporaine de House of Cards...
Le printemps, dehors, n’est pas encore là. Les tousseurs sont enrhumés. Ils sont déchaînés. Je refuse de croire que c’est une manifestation de mauvaise humeur contre cette pièce qui me plait de plus en plus
Puis entre la solaire Adeline d’Hermy, alias Hilde Wangel. La fille du médecin, là-haut, tout là-haut, où Solness, autrefois, avait construit une tour, la tour la plus haute. L’entrée de ce personnage un peu fantasmagorique nous plonge en même temps dans Lolita et dans la Bible. Elle nous renvoie au titre – le Constructeur – comme au prétexte de leur rencontre, et en même temps nous en éloigne au maximum, puisqu’elle évoque à demi-mot des circonstances pour le moins choquantes. Elle jure, aussi. « Merde, Constructeur ». Comment dit-on merde en norvégien ?
Hilde est une visitation. Elle est là pour pousser Solness dans ses derniers retranchements. Lui faire tenir ses promesses. Le faire sortir de sa zone de confort. Lui rappeler son passé, bon et mauvais. Est-ce un succube pour une fois apparu sous les traits d’une jeune fille séduisante ? Est-ce l’ange de la mort de Solness ? La joute verbale et argumentative entre Solness et Hilde a des airs de combat de Cyrano du Vème acte. « Je sais bien qu’à la fin vous me mettrez à bas / N’importe, je me bats, je me bats, je me bats ». Solness est-il déjà mort ? On ne sait pas, mais on sent toujours que quelque chose transcende ce que la scène nous montre
Cela n’a en fait pas beaucoup d’importance qu’il soit mort ou vivant
Le reste de cette pièce magnifique est la conséquence logique des bases de l’intrigue posées jusqu’alors. Hilde veut un foyer, construit par celui qui a justement dérangé le foyer de ses parents. Elle ne l’aura pas, mais encore, sera sur le point de l’obtenir. Rentre Aline. Hilde entre Solness et Aline, c’est Charlotte Valandrey au milieu du couple Cordier. Tout semble s’arranger. Solness a enfin quelqu’un à qui parler. Tiens, Phèdre. On croit pour un moment que Michel Robin va voir son rêve exaucé. Et puis non, Solness tient trop à sa réputation. Il est d’accord pour remonter, lui qui a le vertige depuis l’incendie de la maison d’Aline. Le plaisir de reconstruire est « effrayant ». Tiens, Alceste. Il remonte. Hilde le montre du doigt. La salle se retourne. Tiens, Confucius
La fin se précipite. Solness est en haut, à nouveau. Et il tombe. Vous ne l’attendiez pas ? Come on...
Courez en tous cas voir cette excellente pièce, brillamment et très simplement mise en scène par Alain Françon, qui vous fera redécouvrir de superbes comédiens, et un des meilleurs textes du répertoire scandinave. Et peut-être, n’oubliez pas de méditer cette superbe phrases des Revenants (du même Ibsen, et bientôt aux Amandiers) : « L’homme le plus fort au monde, c’est celui qui est le plus seul. ». C’est sans doute ce qu’aurait du faire Solness. La méditer, cette phrase
Solness le Constructeur, de Henrik Ibsen
Mise en scène Alain Françon
Avec Wladimir Yordanoff, Adeline d’Hermy, Michel Robin et Dominique Valadié
Théâtre de la Colline
Jusqu’au 25 avril 2013
I did not know Milo Baughman until I met him, through a stunning pair of orange stools, at Galerie Jean-Louis Danant. American born in the 20s, Baughman is one of the most prominent American designer of the middle of the 20th century. His vocation came to life at thirteen years old, when he was asked by his family to design the interior of the house they were building in California. Why not? Every family with a thirteen year old should not need an interior designer
This pair of orange stools immediately caught my eye in the magnificent stand of the Danant Gallery, all made of orange and red - and particularly well set up
As I do not want any competitor in buying these stools, I have put a picture of a whoel sitting room made by Baughman, to show a more complete overview of what he was capable of
Os and Oos is a young designer duo who graduated in 2009 from Eindhoven, was created in 2011 and received the Wallpager Design Award this year. No time wasted
Their Sygyzy collection is presented on Galerie Grosserez stand, a very innovative gallery with one of the nicest gallery owners I have met at this opening. The principle of Sygyzy is simple: the three disks can move and change colours, owing to polarisation. This represents the alternance of nights and days in real life, and astral phenomena like eclipses
The electrical wire that hangs from the disk gives an industrial dimension, given otherwise to the lamps of the same collection by a small block of concrete. Delicate and raw in the same object. An oxymoron I love
Brava, Madame Grosserez