Los Angelenos who love champagne, experimental cinema, and art with pith and whimsy are in luck — the French are coming to L.A. and serving up a five month extravaganza of parties, exhibitions, screenings and fairs that kicked-off one night last November with a soirée fantastique at Barnsdall Art Park. Noteworthy was the attendance of François Delattre, Ambassador of France to the United States. The fete marked the opening of Ceci n’est pas’ (CNP) first major show, LOST (in L.A.).
Delattre saluted the event and predicted that CNP “will be a time of creative dialogue between our two countries and our two cultures.”
The ambassador said, “In the next five months, the Los Angeles art world will welcome many French artists and professionals. They will be able to share their passions and ideas while strengthening relationships, which is what Ceci n’est pas… is all about.”
The event distilled an intoxicating mix of artists, gallerists, writers and bon vivants, from both Paris and Los Angeles. As a handsome horde of young men and women servers poured flutes of chilled Roderer, the stylish assemblage of dignitaries and artophiles perused the show. LOST (in LA) curator Marc-Olivier Wahler spoke about the genesis of the Ceci n’est pas initiative.
In 2006 the Centre Pompidou proposed an exhibition which it titled “Los Angeles 1955-1985: Birth of an Artistic Capital.” As the concept developed, it morphed dramatically to trace those through-lines to the present day and emphasize contemporary art. Thus, CNP programming includes the participation of 100 artists in 30 venues throughout the Southland.
This five-month program is a bold celebration of the French fascination with Hollywood, la vie californienne and Los Angeles as a powerhouse center of Modern Art. Some have compared this grand survey to the all-over-L.A. Getty Pacific Standard Time program. But CNP is au courant and includes a meaningful exchange with Los Angeles artists exhibiting contemporary art and screening experimental film in Paris. I suppose as much as we amuse the French, Paris is a muse of sorts to many artists and filmmakers here in Los Angeles, myself included.
CNP, in its latest incarnation, is a project initiated by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, in association with the Institut Français, with the support of the Alliance Française of Los Angeles, and the French Ministry of Culture. F.L.A.X. the French Los Angeles Exchange, which counts Southern California as having the second largest French community in the U.S., provides assistance, promotion and adds a chicly attired and well coiffed presense to the events this author has attended.
Venues include Los Angeles Municipal Art Museum at Barnsdall Art Park, LACMA (Los Angles County Museum of Art), LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions), Art Los Angeles Contemporary, Cherry+Martin, and the Robert Berman Gallery, among many others. Le dénouement, or the grand finale, is the historic, first-time L.A. appearance of Paris Photo, the world’s most important photo show which will stage its fair on the Paramount Studio lot in Hollywood at the end of April.
Below are brief descriptions of some of the exhibitions available at press time. Programming is evolving, with new events being added constantly. Check the highly potent CNP website for updates at http://cnp-la.org.
So bring it on. Vive la France!
Los Angeles Municipal Gallery at Barnsdall art Park
December 1, 2012–January 27, 2013
LOST (in LA), organized by the FLAX Foundation, continues the dialogue between LA and French artists. It reproduces the quintessential Los Angeles experience of being lost in the heart of this metropolis. Layers of time and space appear to be interlaced together atop a hill hidden in the middle of the city. The show features more than 60 works by established and emerging artists from France and Los Angeles. December 1, 2012 through January 27, 2013, at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Art Park.
More information can be found at http://lostinla.com
Robert Berman Gallery
The Robert Berman Gallery in Bergamot Station hosts two CNP shows, back to back. Both feature the photographic work of French conceptual artists now living in LA.
Marc Fichou’s Contenant Contenu (Containing, Contained…)
January 12-February 16 2013
The artist’s fourth show at the gallery offers a brilliant and mind-boggling cross-medium exploration of a loop connecting two versions of the same object in space and time. Containing Contained perfectly epitomizes the central concept of This is Not. (To Be and Not to Be is a wonderful conundrum).
Marsolier’s photographs are deceptively tranquil yet filled with allegorical allusions to modern living. This is the best kind of conceptual art— visually arresting in its perfect compositions, simultaneously provoking a rich conversation filled with subtextural anxieties that lurk beneath the surface of her photographs.
More information can be found at http://robertbermangallery.com
Cherry + Martin
Bernard Piffaretti — Report: January 12–February 16, 2013
Cherry and Martin presents the first United States solo exhibition in ten years by one of the most important contemporary French painters, Bernard Piffaretti, as curated in conversation with Matt Connors.
For more than 30 years, Piffaretti has expressed the virtues and contradictions of painting, pairing codes of modern abstraction with a strict conceptual methodology. By vertically dividing the canvas into two equal halves creating the right-side as the original and the left-side its copy, Piffaretti has shaped his oeuvre into a multi-perplexing paradox that runs the gamut of painting’s canon while forming the quintessential Duchampian question to the audience.
More information can be found at http://cherryandmartin.com
Art Los Angeles Contemporary
The Barker Hangar, Santa Monica Airport: January 24–27, 2013
Tim Fleming’s cutting edge Art Los Angeles Contemporary, now in its fourth year, will take part in CNP by hosting a special section of the fair dedicated to visiting French galleries and their exhibiting artists. The fair will also highlight the relationship between these two cultural hubs through extensive programming of talks, lectures, and screenings.
ALAC features an exclusive roster of established and emerging galleries from across the globe. While continuing its tradition of highlighting galleries from Los Angeles, ALAC welcomes a greater number of international galleries to the cultural landscape of Los Angeles in January.
More information can be found at http://artlosangelesfair.com
LACE (Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions)
LACE seems to have taken the Los Angeles/Paris CNP and harnessed it to its raison d’etre, contemporary multimedia art and video. LACE has numerous exhibitions, some in coordination with other institutions and venues, like LA Existancial. Check out their website for updates. If you see a lot of French names, it’s a good bet the event or show is part of CNP.
Prominent LACE/CNP programming is The End of the Night, an avant cinematic series, curated by Martha Kirszenbaum, which runs from March 21-April 28, 2013.
The End of the Night, a double exhibition project developed in Los Angeles and Paris, is inspired by the work of two major experimental filmmakers: one Californian, Kenneth Anger, and one French, Henri-Georges Clouzot, This transversal double group-show, one part in L.A, Clouzot influenced, complements a second part in Paris, which is Kenneth Anger themed. Both are organized around notions of abstraction, kinetic art and optical illusions.
More information can be found at http://welcometolace.org
Paris Photo, Los Angeles
Staging on The Paramount Pictures Studio Lot: April 25–28, 2013
In the unique creative environment of Los Angeles, where Hollywood and film inform contemporary art and culture, Paris Photo will launch its first ever Los Angeles show, with LACMA’S Britt Salvesen branding the event with a sterling curatorial presence.
Some of the venues within the fair include:
New York Street Backlot, Solo Show Section
The New York Street Backlot is dedicated to the presentation of approximately 25 cutting edge solo shows. This replica of New York City offers amazing opportunities to present a specific body of work by one artist. Each selected gallery will be allocated one of the exclusive “sets” to create a solo exhibition.
This section will take place in the heart of the Hollywood and expand the boundaries between photography and moving images, showcasing work by historical and contemporary artists working in video. Check the Paris Photo website for updates at http://losangeles.parisphoto.com
There is so much going on within the Ceci n’est pas purview, some of the participants include:
Participating Partners & Institutions to date include: (Please go to www.cnp-la.org for the most current list.) 18th Street Art Center, Art Center College of Design, Art Los Angeles Contemporary Fair, Be-art, California Institute for the Arts, Castillo Corales, Cherry and Martin Gallery, CNAP (French National Centre for Contemporary Art), Ecole des Beaux Arts de Bordeaux, Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts de Lyon, Ecole Supérieure d’Art de l’agglomération d’Annecy, Fabien Castanier Gallery, Favorite Goods, FLAX, FRAME (French Regional American Museum Exchange), Francois Ghebaly Gallery, Galerie Franck Elbaz, GDM_galerie de multiples, Galerie Hussenot, Galerie Joseph Tang, Galerie Loevenbruck, Galerie Torri, ltd los angeles, Here is Elsewhere, LACE, LA><ART, Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery at Barnsdall Art Park, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Machine Project, Mains d’Oeuvres, MAK Center / Schindler House, New Galerie, Otis College of Art and Design, PARIS-LA Magazine, Paris Photo LA, Public Fiction, REDCAT, Robert Berman Gallery, Université Paris 8, University of California Los Angeles, and University of Southern California.
Presenting Artists and Participants to date include: (Please go to www.cnp-la.org for the most current list.) Ivan Argote, Bettina Attala, Fayçal Baghriche, John Baldessari, Stephan Balkenhol, Davide Balula, Pauline Bastard, Berdaguer/Pejus, Julien Berthier, Julien Bismuth, Dominique Blais, Michel Blazy, Sophie Bonnet-Pourpret, Nicolas Boulard, Elsa Bourdot, Valentin Carron, Pierre-Laurent Cassiere, Edwin Chan, Matt Connors, Isabelle Cornaro, Marie de Brugerolle, Philippe Decrauzat, Daniel Dewar, Bertrand Dezoteux, Sheila Donovan, Sophie Dubosc, Brigitte Engler, Didier Faustino, Patricia Fernandez, Robert Filliou, Jean-Pascal Flavien, Andrea Fraser, Cyprien Gaillard, Vincent Ganivet, Dora Garcia, Miguel Garcia Vivancos, Clara Gensberger, Gregory Gicquel, Dominique Gilliot, Piero Golia, Jeff Guess, Peter Harkawik, Camille Henrot, Thomas Hirschhorn, Pierre Huyghe, Fabrice Hyber, Nathan Hylden, Armand Jalut, Jimpunk, JonOne, Martha Kirszenbaum, Robert Kinmont, Vincent Lamouroux, Thomas Lawson, Laurent Le Deunff, Julio Le Parc, Pierre Leguillon, Anton Lieberman, M/M Paris, Sylvia Maglioni, Tony Matelli, Philippe Mayaux, Rodney McMillan, Antonio Mendoza, Mathieu Mercier, Laurent Montaron, Claude Parent, Aude Pariset, François Perrin, Bernard Piffaretti, Julien Prévieux, Chloe Quenum, Florian & Michael Quistrebert, Jimmy Robert, Allan Ruppersberg, Mickael Salvi, Benjamin Seror, Jim Shaw, Alexandre Singh, Philippe Terrier-Hermann, Graeme Thomson, Tatiana Trouvé, Oscar Tuazon, Lucille Uhlrich, Xavier Veilhan, Jean-Luc Verna, and Marnie Weber.