Marinette Cueco, Youla Chapoval, Max Ernst, Fernand Léger, Joan Miró, Rui Moreira, Kunihiko Moriguchi, Hans Reichel, Hanns Schimansky, Susumu Shingu, Árpád Szenes, Mark Tobey, Yamamoto Wakako, Zarina
And he bestowed on it the shape which was befitting and akin. Now for that Living Creature which is designed to embrace within itself all living creatures the fitting shape will be that which comprises within itself all the shapes there are; wherefore He wrought it into a round, in the shape of a sphere, equidistant in all directions from the center to the extremities, which of all shapes is the most perfect and the most self-similar, since He deemed that the similar is infinitely fairer than the dissimilar.
Plato, Timaeus, 33 b
March is the month of Drawing Art Fairs in Paris, and 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of moon landing with a major exhibition at the Grand Palais this coming Spring. On the occasion of these two events, the gallery curates a show focused on the theme of the sphere with paper constellations between Earth and Heaven.
ATMO(SPHERES). From the Indian Atman, Breath, principle of life, both the individual soul and the world’s soul, to the Greek Atomos, Atom, that which cannot be divided, the indivisible, represented by the solar system… Very early on, the round shape was used to represent the world and its journey, things and movement that both animates them and links them together, from the infinitely small to the infinitely large. Plato described the cosmos as a construction of eight concentric spheres, with Earth in its center. The wheel of time refers back to a circular conception of duration which was already present in the Babylonian civilization. Continuity and eternity, with neither beginning nor end, at once an expansive and a concentrated power, both on the cosmic and human levels, the sphere would also become the geometrical symbol of the Holy Trinity.
The exhibition thus invites the viewer to explore, to take a zero gravity trip to the heart of atmo-spheres, spheres and hemispheres, moons and half-moons, the space-time of artists represented by the gallery since its creation.
The work of Zarina, born in 1937 in the North of India, conjures familiar places and atmospheres, fashioned by lived experience or aspiration, sculpted, trimmed, or treated in light of hopes rooted in the material of paper. Evoking ancient writing tablets, the sculptures in paper pulp give an inkling of all the marks of their time, in their pure shapes of geometry or sacred architecture, plunging us at once into the infinitely grand and cosmic, as in The Universe is Full of Paths and Orbits, plunging us into the fractal universe of nature, and also into the majestic universe of Islamic monuments. Recently, as Zarina has grown older, her work has turned towards the place of her ultimate voyage, that she translates through her research into the divine light of Noor.
Mark Tobey (1890-1976), internationally renowned pioneer of American abstraction, was discovered in 1945 in the United States by Jeanne Bucher, who brought his works back to Paris and displayed them in her gallery for the first time in Europe in 1955. The artist’s spiritual quest, his encounter with the Bahai faith and Zen, and his trips to the Far East and Europe, led him to undertake his “white writings” inspired by Asian and Arabic calligraphy. Tobey firmly believed that humans were gradually understanding the unity of the world and of humanity by asserting that science and religion are the two major forces that need to be balanced for Man’s maturity. Two of the artist’s works will be on display in the exhibition, among which is Hidden Spheres (1967), one of the very few collages on paper he made.
Time constitutes the very essence of 1971- born Portuguese artist Rui Moreira’s work. He draws very slowly and recently spent an entire year on one drawing. It all begins with the journey, the experience of often extreme and unique customs in unknown lands. The scorching desert heat, the freezing temperatures in the mountains from which the Gange’s springs, the extreme humidity of the Amazonian jungle… The artist experiences it, lives it, then reconstitutes it, like a mnemonic, ritualistic, or kinaesthetic exercise when he comes back to his studio. As in The Machine of Entangling Landscapes VI, presented here, Moreira’s drawings are true interior cosmologies and vibratory spaces that invoke deities, worlds, celestial and cellular geometries, but also feed on musical, literary and cinematic references.
The artistic world of Hans Reichel (1892-1958) is all at once poetic, aquatic, alchemical and biological. A world that invites the viewer to be constantly amazed by Nature, through the vibration of colors and the balance of elements. It is in watercolor that he finds the best means for his reverie: quiet creatures, fish and birds, drift in a curved space and float with the uncertainty of dreams(Collection Planque. L’Exemple de Cézanne, op. cit., p. 174.)
A close friend of Gaétan and Geneviève Picon, Kunihiko Moriguchi, born in 1941, had his work on display in Europe for the first time at the gallery in 1986. Moriguchi invites the viewer to look for a “hidden order” in the geometric structure of his works, closely inspired by nature and temporal cycles – as shown in Vingt-quatre saisons 19. The artist applies the traditional technology of Yuzen, i.e. painting on silk, to works on paper, and creates a synergy between the traditional Japanese techniques and mathematical ideas, which imparts his investigations with a unique density and a new relationship with the esotericism specific to Zen thought. Today, he is considered to be a National Treasure in Japan, as his father before him.
Max Ernst’s “Histoire naturelle”, a portfolio published in 1926 by Jeanne Bucher, comprises some thirty reproductions of rubbings he made on his wood floor by laying down a piece of paper and then drawing on it with a pencil. Continually searching for means to reduce the active participation of the “creator,” Ernst discovered frottage in 1925. Scratched in color, these rubbed patterns allowed images of birds, nocturnal forests, hordes, and entire cities to emerge, and his Système de Monnaie Solaire, an original drawing on display here, from which the edited plate was drawn. “He turns doves into diamonds and glances, a system of solar money…” (René Crevel – La Nouvelle Revue française N°169, October 1926).
Also included in the exhibition is a constellation drawn by the Berlin artist Hanns Schimansky, born in 1949, currently on view at the gallery with a new solo show until May 4th. Schimansky is like a poet, each of his drawings is a haiku born from a long process of observation and awareness of the world, and of an interior need for silence. The exploratory line functions as a rhizome, clearing a path on the paper, evoking landscapes at once physical, psychological, and celestial. As with Asian calligraphies embodying primordial breath, the works seem inhabited by subtle movements of air, perceptible odes to the Greek pneuma.
The gouaches of Miró (1893-1983) on display are illustrations from the eight color stencils of Il était une petite pie, published by the Jeanne Bucher Gallery in 1928. It was the artist’s first color-illustrated book and was recently exhibited in the MIRÓ retrospective at the Grand Palais. Circles, stars, constellations, and other patterns dear to the painter’s heart regularly inhabit these works that leap between earth and sky, as the painter explained: “We Catalans need to be in contact with the earth, to stomp it strongly with our feet. Reality is this solid, sturdy thing which we can use as a support, from which we can gather momentum to throw ourselves into the void. With my feet on the earth that I feel, and my head in the sky, my eyes are never stopped by any intermediaries, be it a tree, a hill, or a house. When I paint, I always leap between the earth and the sky.”
Life is a circuit. As much as you travel, you’ll always return to your starting point, said Fernand Léger, whose works were on display at the gallery in the Spring of 1937. His 1919 Composition avec Figures, magnificent wash, watercolor, and India ink drawing, from the so-called mechanical period (1917-1923), very well illustrates the artist’s words.
In 1948, Claude de Soria attended André Lhote’s drawing classes at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière in Paris. She then went on to study in Fernand Léger’s painting studio in 1950 before discovering sculpture with Ossip Zadkine in 1952. In her sculpture work, Claude de Soria (1926-2015) undertook multiple experiments: she explored various doses and qualities of cement powder, sand, fiber, water, and interior structures applied to a host of shapes: circles, squares, rectangles, spheres, and others.
On the occasion of the centenary of the birth of Ukrainian artist Youla Chapoval in 2019, the gallery has dedicated a mini-retrospective to the artist. More than 700 paintings, and about as many works on paper, marked by the ubiquity of spheres and hemispheres, can be found in the body of works of this meteoric artist who died at age 32 in 1951. I feel that my work is not so solitary as it appears, that in fact it tends toward the rejoining of a universal rhythm whose laws govern the growth of plants and the course of the stars.
Carrousel (1937) is a historical work by the Hungarian artist Árpád Szenes (1897-1985), represented by the gallery as early as 1939. His works are characterized by metaphysical landscapes, poetical spaces, like memories of a Dawn of the World. This Carrousel evokes a happy pre-war era, when he and his wife Vieira da Silva lived in Lisbon, and during the course of which the artist abandons himself to childhood memories, his “remembrance of things past,” a nostalgia for a time of innocence and oblivion.
The work of the Japanese Artist Yamamoto Wakako, born in 1950, is suffused with Shintoism, and is always on the lookout for a homology between cosmic rhythms and her own primordial sensations. Primitive songs and elementary forces are represented in her Série de symboles Ying, Yang et Étoiles.
Tondo – Le début est partout, a 2019 work by Marinette Cueco, is a interlacing of woven dwarf rush. The artist uses an age-old Native American technique applied to unusual materials, creating discrepancies of great poetical richness. Paradoxically, her material, grass, is extremely fragile and very difficult to work with.
Each thematic exhibition provides the occasion to conduct a new, vital, and constantly-updated survey of the gallery’s entire history, and to create a moment of dialogue and complicity between the modern and contemporary artists, thus creating new connections beyond space and time.
all images © the gallery and the artist(s)