Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Artist Han Bing: Dionysus Bridge Garbage Station: Urban Amber
Courtesy Hua Gallery (Art Paris Art Fair)

Spring is definitely the time for art-shopping and gallery-hopping in Paris, as the season sees an explosion of fairs dedicated to contemporary art and design.

The 8th Drawing Now Paris | Le Salon du Dessin Contemporain launches the visual feast on March 26, with works by more than 400 artists on display during a five-day event.

Atist Stefano Ricci: Histoire de l'Ours, 2013
Copyright Galerie Martel (Drawing Now Paris)
Taking place in the heart of the city at the newly renovated Carreau du Temple (a covered market) and at Espace Commines, Drawing Now gathers about 87 international galleries, selected by an independent committee made up of leading figures from the art world, says director Carine Tissot.

“We’re promoting the art of drawing as well as those galleries that represent this wonderful medium,” Tissot told Tasshon. “Drawing is receiving increasing attention around the world and since we started eight years ago, the interest has been tremendous.”

She said the fair will provide art lovers with a “full introduction to the diversity of 50 years of contemporary drawing”, with artists aged “from 25 to 80”. Charcoal or graphite drawings, such as those by young Cuban artist Frank Mujica, will also be in the spotlight and will be among those pulling in the fans.

Cuban artist Frank Mujica: Untitled
graphite on canvas
Coutesy of Uprising Art Gallery
The displays will be spread over the 3000-square-meter space of the Carreau du Temple, located in the trendy historic quarter known as Le Marais.

The area’s landmark department store BHV is in on the act, with an exhibition of works by the 2013 Drawing Now Prize winner Didier Rittener. The idea is probably to have visitors do a bit of shopping as they travel up to see the exhibition in BHV’s “Observatoire”, at the top of the building.

Meanwhile, debates, interviews, video shows and drawing demonstrations will enliven Drawing Now, and collectors will get to experience a special presentation of graffiti as well, arranged by art critic and curator Philippe Piguet.  

On Friday, March 28th, a “Drawing Night” will have artists and collectors enjoying an art party before the weekend crowds. But if that isn’t entertaining enough, there is always the Salon du dessin over at the Palais Brongniart, Paris' imposing 19th-century stock exchange. 

The Salon du dessin, now in its 23rd “edition”, attracts serious collectors, art experts, curators, researchers and art fans from around the world. This year, the exhibitors comprise 39 galleries, specialized in ancient as well as modern and contemporary drawings. About 1000 works on art will be on display from March 26 to 31.

Anwar Abdoullaev: Diner, painting
Courtesy of Gallery Lilja Zakirova (Art Paris)

Completely separate from the drawing fairs, Paris is also playing host to Art Paris Art Fair, a huge display of modern and contemporary works that runs from March 27 to 30. This year Art Paris brings together some 140 international galleries from 18 countries, all under the iconic glass dome of the Grand Palais.

The fair includes photography, design and publications, with the 2014 “guest of honour” being China – part of the celebration of 50 years of France-China relations. The Chinese President Xi Jinping and his wife Peng Liyuan will be on a state visit to France as the fair begins.

According to the organizers, Art Paris is keen to highlight “the richness and dynamism of the modern and contemporary Chinese scene” and will feature nearly 90 artists from different generations.

Cui Xiuwen: Angel 5, photography
Galerie Dix 9 (Art Paris)
The artists are being represented by 10 galleries from Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong and “by a score of Western brands” such as A2Z Art Gallery, Paris-Beijing, Loft, and Daniel Templon.

In fact, half of the fair's participating galleries this year are international ones, up from 43 percent in 2013. But galleries based in France and other European countries remain the solid foundation of the event, the organizers say. New contributors include Brussels’ Feizi gallery, Neuchâtel’s  Ditesheim & Maffei Fine Art and Florence’s Alessandro Bagnai, for instance.

The exhibitions at Art Paris can include some shocking examples of contemporary art, so one can expect some controversial discoveries over the next days.

If contemporary art causes a shudder, one can head to PAD - Paris Art + Design, another big event taking place this month. Housed at the Jardin de Tuileries from March 27 to 30, PAD showcases design and the decorative arts, including painting, sculpture, furniture and jewellery. - L. McKenzie & J.M. De Clercq