06 July, 2008

It’s said that if you put things in words you lose them forever.

Yesterday started out with a plan to replicate last semester’s class trip to the art galleries in New York. It began with a dread that angry French curators in elite galleries would throw me out. After all I had heard a friend here exclaim once that “the French are very theatrical; they like to perform!”

The location is called Quartier Saint Germain and the main streets I visited were Rue de Seine and Rue des Beaux Arts. At the end of the latter there stands the age-old, world renowned Ecole des Beaux Arts.

I went with a Spanish friend, Amelino, who was interested in looking at art too, though he insisted he knew nothing about it. The streets were lined with little galleries, marked by flags with the art neighborhood’s graphic identity on them. It was simply spectacular. The curators were mostly extremely friendly and a lot of them allowed me to take pictures.

Of the ones I wasn’t allowed to photograph I especially liked the artist Miguel Macaya, who painted, for instance, a running dog in oils in a style where you couldn’t tell if it was realistic or abstract, and yet there was a powerful impression that it was moving at a high speed. Or the dog was frozen in mid air and the viewer was moving very fast.

Until late afternoon we looked at them, and it made me very happy. My friend kept getting annoyed at the abstract paintings and complained about how it was not honest. I tried to explain that they take reality to a whole new level and indulge in a process of real creation. Looking at art in these small galleries gave me a strange sense of elation.

We went to a gallery where the two artists were actually present – a Bangladeshi and a Palestinian – and they talked with us about where we all came from, about their work, and about the end-of-year exhibition of the students of the Ecole des Beaux Arts that was on display further down the road.

At the exhibition, once again, there was work that was fresh and contemporary, beautiful but not too daring – alas, it’s Beaux Arts, the stuff Le Corbusier and the modernists reacted to. However, I suppose I am really not qualified to judge it like this. Overall, by the time we exited that gallery, I almost felt intoxicated, but also very tired and hungry.

So we saw the outside of the Louvre, my destination for today (definitely, maybe?) and then walked to the “student” neighborhood, Quartier Saint Michel, to get food that wasn’t 50 Euros.

Next we went to the Notre Dame, but did not go up just then, because there was a long line. I’ll add it to my now shorter list of things to do. I made it short because I don’t want it to be merely a checklist that I am ticking off (like a tourist). Instead I really want to do justice to the places I go to. I want to get to know and understand them, so when I draw them they will be familiar. The other things I have on my list now are some large museums, like the Louvre and Musèe d’Orsay, the gardens of Van Gogh, and maybe a visit to a Le Corbusier house outside of Paris. I also want to revisit a few locations I’ve been to, hopefully using the boat as a form of transport over the Seine.

So anyway, after the Notre Dame we went to the Centre Pompidou. On the way we saw a temporary park with very comfortable chairs. They were all taken so they must be comfortable. After an overdose of baroque, the architecture of the Centre Pompidou seemed either like heresy, or like a breath of fresh air. It was affirmed what I said earlier about Paris having a sort of balance that is maintained by points and counterpoints which anchor it in place with great harmony.

It was late and the exhibitions would soon close for the day, so we didn’t go in. We went and sat on the esplanade, which sloped toward the building, and it seemed like an amphitheatre. Everyone was on display but especially the building was on display.

1 comment:

andy chen said...

I really love the sculpture with the sliced, alternating faces. These are really amazing. I can't wait to see what kind of artwork they inspire from you. Am currently watching a BBC documentary on how "art has made the world" -- very interesting theories/ideas about why we create art the way we do, and the importance of art/design/images for society, providing a lot of historical examples. I think you would like it.