You may or may not know this, but I’ll be spending the next 10 days in Paris, one of my all time favorite city, despite the fact that I have chosen a very shitty time to come since EVERYTHING is closed from August 11 to Aug 19 for their yearly vacation! But whatever, Paris is still Paris despite the closed boutiques.
A picture I took with my Samsung Galaxy S3 of a Parisian hobo with a hundred pooping and flying pigeons
One thing I love to do in Paris, that I can’t do in Beirut is walk around, cause you know, there actually is a sidewalk and drivers respect pedestrians. I walked from Sevres Babylone, where my apartment is, to Centre Pompidou, one of my favorite museums: I am not talking about the exhibits only, but architecturally speaking, I find this building to be a wonderful masterpiece.
A picture I took with my Samsung Galaxy S3 from inside the museum
Aside from the museum, there were two exhibitions by Roy Lichtenstein and Simon Hantai. Because it’s August, they are A LOT of tourists, which is exhausting. The ideal time to go to a museum would be right at the opening or around 12:30, 1:00 when everyone is eating. After visiting the museum on the 4th and 5th floor, I went up to the 6th where the two exhibitions were taking places, and (not) to my surprise, everyone was all over Lichtenstein, because, you know, it’s Lichtenstein. So I went to visit Hantai’s exhibit.
I had already seen some of his work in museums, magazines or online, but never actually read about him or about his work. Over 60 years, his style and work really have evolved and changed in drastic ways. The exhibit was organized in a chronological order: we begin with his surrealist period (personally, not a big fan). Trip-y isn’t it?
He eventually broke with the surrealist group over Breton’s refusal to accept any similarity between the surrealist technique of automatic writing and Jackson Pollock‘s methods of action painting.
In the late 50’s, he worked a lot with his hands, literally. He would paint using his fingertips to create patterns or abstract shapes.
In 1960, Hantai developped his technique of “pliage” (folding): the canvas is folded and scrunched, then doused with colour, and unfolded, leaving apparent blank sections of the canvas interrupted by vibrant splashes of colour. His first collection with this new technique was called Morales.
From 1963 to 1965, Hantai worked on a collection entitled Catamurons et Panses. Catamurons is the name of the house he would stay in during his summer vacations. He was still using the folding technique, but this time, he would fold it only to work on the center of the canvas.
Menus (1967-1968) was done using the same folding technique, but this time the canvas was able to breathe more, there were fewer empty spaces, the work was spread all over.
From 1969 to 1974, his Blancs, Whites Hantai worked with smaller patterns and many colors, compared to his usual large monochrome shapes.
From 1973 to 1982, not only did he fold his canvas, but he also tied a knot and ended up with grids. That was the Tabulas.
His last works were made from 1981 to 1995, before were part of a collection entitled Leftovers.
What, in my opinion, is interesting about this artist is that when you compare one era to a previous one, we can see a strong relation and influence. While staying true to his work, Hantai was able to evolve and try out new things. Despite a technique of almost random result, he managed to find a pattern throughout the works of each collection.
I leave you with a panoramic view of Paris, or Parisian rooftops, taken with my Samsung Galaxy S3, standing on the last floor of the Centre Pompidou.