Sunday, July 10, 2016

Montpellier: The Art Scene

Our two weeks in Montpellier afforded a diverse exposure to art shows.  I was very impressed by the free exhibits in two city sponsored spaces: the Carre Sainte-Anne is a converted church which houses contemporary exhibits (a marvelous space in which to look at art) and the deceptively large Pavillon Populaire.

Elina Brotherus was featured in the Pavillon in a sweeping show entitled: La Lumiere venue du Nord, Photographies, videos 1997-2015 (June 29-September 25, 2016).  Her work is stunning and very current feeling.  Searingly emotional but also calculated she makes comments on very personal subjects using herself as subject matter.  Her most confrontational works in this show were about her struggle with unsuccessful infertility treatments.  The work was brilliant and hard to look at but the pain was visualized in a most compelling way.  Her landscape work is beautiful, use of light complex, and her commentary on the history of painting and the female gaze pushes dialogue further.
Her self-portraiture was also very interesting in terms of today's social media obsession with the "selfie."  She was taking selfie's with a personal documentation feel long before smart phones hit the scene.  Can you tell?  I loved this show.

Barthelemy Toguo was featured at the Carre Sainte-Anne.  Deluge (June 22-November 6 2016) is an installation of 54 wooden coffins in the center of the space surrounded by large ink on paper transferred to canvas works.  Toguo was making commentary on war (especially referencing Africa in some pieces) and the resilience of the human spirit to regenerate through nature.  The show was very succinct and his point was quite clear.  I liked the ink effect and the way his imagery was painterly but stark.  It enhanced the subject matter.

On the day before the Frederick Bazille show opened at the city's main art museum the Musee Fabre
we visited the permanent collection.  (An oversight on my part.)  This space was recently renovated and has some lovely works.  France has reasonable museum entry fee prices and we spent about 2 hours with the collection which is good for 2 kids under 10 I'd say. 
Overall the city is a joy to look at art in.  Viewers of all ages were at the galleries while we were there. France certainly appreciates art.
Back with more from our France adventure soon.
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