10 Shows to See during LE PARI(S)

Shannon Lee
Oct 19, 2020 3:55PM

Installation view of works by Auguste Rodin and Cecily Brown in “Bustes de Femmes” at Gagosian, 2020. © Musée Rodin. © Cecily Brown. Photo by Thomas Lannes. Courtesy of Gagosian.

In a normal year, the second half of October sees Paris bustling with gallerists, collectors, and art lovers from all corners of the world, gathered for FIAC and the accompanying Paris Art Week of exhibitions, auctions, satellite fairs, and more. Of course, this year is anything but normal. Last month, FIAC’s organizers announced the fair’s 2020 edition would be canceled due to COVID-19—a sage decision given the alarming rise of infections throughout Europe in the weeks since. Not content to let the season’s momentum slip away, Paris’s resilient art community was quick to come up with a solution.

The result is LE PARI(S), a hybrid art week organized by the French gallery association Comité Professionel des Galeries d’Art (CPGA) and whose name is a play on the French word for a bet (un pari). That said, LE PARI(S) seems like a pretty sure bet: It includes hundreds of in-person exhibitions and events at galleries throughout the city with accompanying online presentations for those who are only able to attend virtually. In order to keep track of all of that’s going on, CPGA has developed both an interactive map in addition to a complete online platform (hosted, for full disclosure, on Artsy) for those browsing online. Whether viewing the works in person or at home, we’ve selected 10 essential exhibitions on view during LE PARI(S).

Lisetta Carmi, “Renée”

Antoine Levi / Ciaccia Levi

Lisetta Carmi
I Travestiti, 1965-1971
Antoine Levi / Ciaccia Levi
Lisetta Carmi
I Travestiti, Renée, 1965-1970
Antoine Levi / Ciaccia Levi

Currently featured at Antoine Levi / Ciaccia Levi are a selection of works from Italian photographer Lisetta Carmi’s groundbreaking series “I travestiti,” in a show titled “Renée.” Taken between 1965 and 1970, a number of the photographs on view are candid studies of the exhibition’s titular subject, a transgender woman named Renée. Both tender and full of joy, the remarkably prescient photographs celebrated and humanized these women at a time when they faced widespread prejudice. Having struggled to get these photographs out into the world at the time, it’s only recently that the now-96-year-old Carmi is receiving recognition for her transcendent work; she is considered among the first to document Italy’s LGBTQ community.

Ralph Gibson, “The Somnambulist, 50th Anniversary”

Galerie Thierry Bigaignon; Ralph Gibson

Fifty years ago, American photographer Ralph Gibson released The Somnambulist, a self-published book of photographs that would expand and forever change the photo book medium. Where once a book of photographs was limited to showcasing the images’ photojournalistic merits, linked inextricably to text, The Somnambulist broke new ground with a radical layout that allowed the photographs to speak entirely for themselves. The result was an immersive world of elegant, Surrealist-tinged images. Celebrating this momentous anniversary, Galerie Thierry Bigagnon is exhibiting all the images from the book, along with the debut of Gibson’s latest works. The gallery is also releasing special anniversary editions of the photographs in their original format, and an anniversary edition of the book.

“Conversations de Routes: Entre Johannesburg, Lomé et Abidjan”

Galerie Carole Kvasnevski and Galerie Véronique Rieffel

Sthenjwa Luthuli
Ingwe, 2018
Galerie Carole Kvasnevski

Galerie Carole Kvasnevski’s current group show—organized with Galerie Véronique Rieffel as part of Le Pari(s)’s series of co-hosted exhibitions, “Hospitality”—offers a kind of present-day snapshot of contemporary African art, connecting a diverse constellation of experiences that invite viewers to see and imagine Africa differently. Among the works on view are a series of paintings and works on paper by South African artist and visual activist Zanele Muholi. While Muholi is best known for portrait photography exploring Black LGBTQ identities and politics in South Africa, these new works offer a rare look at a more tactile facet of their practice. The exhibition also includes paintings by fellow South African artists Lindokuhle Khumalo and Sthenjwa Luthuli, as well as works by three artists represented by Galerie Véronique Rieffel: the Togo- and Paris-based sculptor Clay Apenouvon, and Ivory Coast artists Gopal Dagnogo and Jean Servais Somian.

Souleimane Barry, “L’Imaginaire”

Galerie Anne de Villepoix

Souleimane Barry
La dame des pagnes, 2019
Galerie Anne de Villepoix
Souleimane Barry
Visage Anonyme bleu 1, 2020
Galerie Anne de Villepoix

Working between Burkina Faso and France, Souleimane Barry paints dreamlike canvases that are rich with symbols of the African diaspora and the collective imaginary, making this exhibition’s title, “L’Imaginaire,” extremely apt. His figures exist in “twilight worlds” of patterns and references from both history and Barry’s own life, resulting in surreal, collage-like canvases. His distinctive aesthetic was shaped not only by drawing classes he took in Ouagadougou, but also by his work making hand-painted billboard advertisements during summer breaks from school. He’s also cited Francis Bacon and Jean-Michel Basquiat as his biggest influences, and clearly shares their innate capacity for conveying the inner lives of the figures he depicts.

My-Lan Hoang Thuy, “Pale Violet”

Galerie Derouillon

My-Lan Hoang Thuy
Violets (series), 2020

On view in Galerie Derouillon’s current exhibition, “Pale Violet,” are French artist My-Lan Hoang Thuy’s latest explorations of materiality. Printed onto textural blobby sheets of pastel acrylic paint are mysterious, Gauguin-like female figures that are stretched and distorted, echoing the plasticity of the works’ surfaces. These small, implacable compositions investigate what it means when a subject becomes an image, and when that image then becomes an object. For Thuy, the artmaking process renders all things into material to be constructed, bent, and shaped ad infinitum. This is the first solo exhibition with the gallery for Thuy, who graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 2018.

“Bustes de Femmes”


Installation view of works by Huma Bhabha and Glenn Brown in “Bustes de Femmes” at Gagosian, 2020. © Huma Bhabha. © Glenn Brown. Photo by Thomas Lannes. Courtesy of Gagosian.

Celebrating the 10th anniversary of its Paris location, Gagosian’s current exhibition revisits a theme from the gallery’s very first FIAC booth—the female figure in modern and contemporary art. Titled “Bustes de Femmes,” the show is phenomenally comprehensive in its scope and includes works by the types of heavy-hitting artists one might expect from Gagosian, such as Balthus, Georg Baselitz, Huma Bhabha, Cecily Brown, John Currin, Romuald Hazoumè, Jia Aili, Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Meleko Mokgosi, Henry Moore, Auguste Rodin, Jenny Saville, Cindy Sherman, Adriana Varejão, and Tom Wesselmann. This presentation on the theme also features both real and virtual environments designed by the French architect India Mahdavi.

Laura Stevens, “Corps d’hommes”

Galerie Miranda

While Gagosian’s exhibition explores the feminine figure, Galerie Miranda’s show of English photographer Laura Stevens’s work, titled “Corps d’hommes,” accounts for the masculine—specifically in the form of the male nude. Part of her ongoing series “Him,” these simple and elegant portraits of naked men say more about Stevens’s particular take on the female gaze than they do about the actual men. Devoid of caricature or judgement, Stevens’s eye is sensual without being sexual, observant without being prescriptive. These works are liberating in that they don’t put a frame around what constitutes masculinity and instead capture a universe of dualities. Stevens’s men are, as the exhibition’s press release put it, “simultaneously virile and vulnerable; muscled and gracile; confident and shy.”

David Hockney, “Ma Normandie”

Galerie Lelong

David Hockney
Ink Test, 19th to 21st March, 2019
Galerie Lelong & Co.

Titled “Ma Normandie,” this highly anticipated exhibition at Galerie Lelong presents a dozen new and recent paintings and prints of digital drawings by David Hockney that were produced during the past year and a half he’s spent living in Normandy, France. Having moved to the French seaside region in 2019 following a brief trip the year prior, Hockney has spent quarantine taking in and admiring his bucolic surroundings, lush with fruit trees and brimming with countryside charm. Equally inspired by the strong narrative and graphic quality of the nearby Bayeux tapestry, which he had visited during his 2018 trip, the first work in the series Hockney completed is a long panorama documenting his new house’s surroundings. Cataloging the beauty of his new setting with a kind of indexical care, these paintings feel very akin in spirit to Claude Monet’s paintings of Giverny and are a welcome blissful escape in an otherwise chaotic year.

Oscar Murillo, “News”; Group Exhibition

David Zwirner

Marcel Dzama
The flower of Fez, 2020
David Zwirner
Mamma Andersson
The Lost Paradise I, 2020
David Zwirner

Lelong won’t be the only gallery exhibiting works made during quarantine. In an exhibition at its space in Le Marais titled “News,” David Zwirner is showing Oscar Murillo’s most recent works, which the artist painted while in Colombia this past spring and summer. Unlike Hockney’s pastoral reprieve, Murillo’s work responds directly to the fraught and anxiety-inducing times in which they were created. In tandem with this in-person show of Murrillo’s latest body of work, David Zwirner is holding a group presentation online for Le Pari(s) featuring recent works by Mamma Andersson and Marcel Dzama, and historical pieces by William Eggleston and Franz West, among others.

Sue Williamson, “Pages from the South”

Dominique Fiat

Sue Williamson
Caroline Motsoaledi, 2013
Galerie Dominique Fiat
Sue Williamson
The Band, 1996
Galerie Dominique Fiat

Sue Williamson’s exhibition “Pages from the South,” at Dominique Fiat, couldn’t have come at a more crucial time. As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to inspire global conversations around race and colonialism, Williamson’s work advocating for social change in 1970s apartheid-era South Africa provides critical historical context for understanding such activism today. This show—Williamson’s first solo exhibition in France—features prints, photographs, installations, and videos created over the course of several decades that address the devastating effects of apartheid on South Africans. On October 22nd, the gallery will be hosting a special screening of her film It’s a pleasure to meet you (2016). In addition to “Pages from the South,” Williamson also has work on view at the Centre Pompidou in the group exhibition “Global(e) Resistance.”

Discover more artists, galleries, and exhibitions participating in Le Pari(s).

Shannon Lee