The cities break up
The earth is a train of dust
Knows how to marry this space. (Adonis 1984, 163)
The Averard Hotel offers the perfect setting for this exhibition exploring the nostalgia of a bygone era. The artists Nika Neelova, Yannick Chastang, Ken Sortais, Raphael Barontini and Taisuké Mohri will present works on the traces of a city and its interiors through an imagined decor. Drawing from the ancient Greek tradition of the poeti vagabondi, when poets offered to write texts to praise the assets of cities without a song. The artists included in the exhibition have romanticised and praised a fictional city, through a collection of objects found during their wanderings in European cities. Taking the form of moulds, copies and shadows of existing objects, the works become representative of a material culture and a recollection of a past era in dialogue with today's world.
Neelova’s casts of coal hole covers, of which production is now stopped in London, represent the research of the artist for forsaken objects and architectures. Her practice is comparable to a contemporary archeology of the modern city through the excavation of forgotten forms. Very often she alters and reinvents their utility and aesthetics.
Chastang’s project Shadows explores how today’s functional furniture is derived from the decorative arts of previous centuries. He reminisces about a time of splendor and ceremonial dinners when luxurious furniture was produced to assert a certain status. He contrasts today’s utilitarian styles against the shadows of an ornate chandelier and 18th century chair. Using marquetry executed in ebony, sycamore and oak, he references this lost aristocratic taste of which only shadows now remain.
Ken Sortais represents the modern poetic wanderer. He mainly draws his inspirations from his peregrinations in the city of Paris. His mould of the Guimard art nouveau tube station takes the form of an elegant drapée made with the industrial material of latex. In his appropriations of the public space, he transforms monuments through recreated and personal mythologies.
Raphael Barontini banners and flags of historical figures in Europe, mix popular culture, african art and aristocratic history, an audacious way to render the universality of culture.
Taisuké Mohri elegantly copies Greuze’s portait of a young boy, if it was not for the illusion of the broken glass, the drawing would have been the perfect reference to the art of portait fashionable during the previous centuries in the bourgeois interiors.
curator: Karina El Helou
2-26 February 2016