I Love L.A. is the title of the inaugural exhibition devoted to our Los Angeles artists that will mark the opening of our gallery in this unique city. More than a simple statement of fact, the title asserts an interest that has never waned since we first discovered the L.A. scene in 1980. Over the years, the image capital of the world has gradually evolved into a cultural capital presenting a socio-political panorama that is open to both aesthetic and pedagogical aspects, thereby conferring upon the city its unique artistic topography. We are very grateful to all the professionals and artists who so generously informed, guided and welcomed us back then. Their enthusiasm and their talent provided an impetus for the two debutant collectors that we were at the time.
In the 90s, on the strength of everything we had learnt, we decided to ‘go through the looking glass’ and, in what was one of Praz-Delavallade’s first exhibitions, put on a group show in Paris with Jim Shaw, Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, Raymond Pettitbon and Benjamin Weissman. From 1997, our appreciation of the L.A. scene was fully-expressed when the gallery moved to Rue Louise Weiss, a new neighbourhood devoted to contemporary art located on the left bank in the east of Paris along the same lines as Bergamot Station. Numerous solo and group shows featuring artists from Los Angeles followed — these artists are still represented by Praz-Delavallade today.
We were filled with enthusiasm by the scene’s open-mindedness that is due to the ultra rapid and anarchic development of L.A. It was out of this original chaos that a unique artistic language was born, one that was completely free from the institutional constraints that weighed upon artists in New York at the time, a style created by visionary artists who experimented with genius.
Los Angeles will always be resolutely turned towards the future, a quality that generates a rock solid optimism which, in turn, leads to a wealth of creativity that grows on the fertile grounds of counter-culture. Today the city’s artistic production is a model, the model of an alternative scene that retrospectively transforms our perception of American art by placing it outside the structural and theoretical frameworks of the major established movements. “In answer to assemblage, pop art and minimalism, Los Angeles’ artists respond with their fondness for excess and penchant for mixtures and hybridisation.” (Bruno Racine, Los Angeles, naissance d’une capitale artistique, Editions Centre Pompidou, 2006).
The Los Angeles art scene has always been inspired by its diverse exchanges with the New York scene, European culture and the original constituent cultures of this multicultural society, whether neighbouring Mexico, North and South America, or Africa and Asia. We wish to be a part of this schema in which borders are blurred leaving us free to showcase both the new generation of Los Angeles artists and European ones.
Praz-Delavallade is the first Parisian gallery to cross the Atlantic and settle in Los Angeles to further reinforce our ties with this city. For us it is a dream come true, one that has been made possible thanks to the confidence of all the artists who have joined us. Our first exhibition, I Love L.A., is devoted to all of them and we are honoured that they have accepted to take part.
— René-Julien Praz & Bruno Delavallade