There's hardly a moment to reflect on London before we're onto the next fair: Paris+ par Art Basel (20–22 October 2023).
In its second year since replacing FIAC as Paris' reigning French fair, 154 galleries—including 60 with an exhibition space in France—will present works at the Grand Palais Éphémère.
There's an argument that galleries have kept back their best works for Paris, with particularly remarkable presentations from the newly re-formed LGD, Sadie Coles HQ, and Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel, among others.
Ahead of the opening, Ocula Advisory selects their favourite works on view.
Marina Rheingantz's semi-abstract painting of a dense and expansive landscape will undoubtedly attract fair goers to Brazilian gallery Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel's booth.
Lola (2023) merges spontaneous expressive brushwork with moments of structured pattern to conjure up a stormy scene, saturated in fleshy pink and red hues. The large-scale painting has a textural quality that conveys a sense of fluidity, suggesting fluctuating movement in an unsettled, turbulent space.
Discussing her practice, Rheingantz said 'Sometimes, I start very abstract and other times I begin with a particular reference to something. Often, my original idea exists as a starting point but eventually transforms into something else entirely. It becomes more of an experience than a figurative representation.'
Pace Gallery has taken Mark Rothko, whose highly awaited retrospective at the Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris (18 October 2023–2 April 2024), coincides with the fair, as the focus of their presentation in Paris.
In response to Rothko's work around abstraction, colour, luminosity, and spirituality, Pace Gallery asked their artists to create new works that directly respond to his legacy, presenting them alongside a curated selection of the estates of their artists.
As such, visitors are met with a late-career masterpiece by Agnes Martin. Painted in 2000, this is one of a number of works—populated with powdery blue and chalky yellow stripes—that she made while living in Taos, New Mexico.
Understood to be rendered from the expansive skies of the place Martin called home in her later years, it marks a poignant moment in her artistic career where tranquillity and peace shine through her mark-making.
Thomas Schütte's United Enemies (1995) at LGD
If their Paris booth is anything to go by, it seems the newly formed LGD has bounced back with a vengeance since it was announced that Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn parted ways with the quartet in late August.
Arguably one the strongest booths in the Grand Palais Éphémère, it presents a stunning 1882 Degas ballerina drawing, an A++ Sigmar Polke painting, and this Thomas Schütte sculpture, among others.
In 1992, Schütte embarked on a long line of sculptures, a series that came to be known as 'United Enemies'. Featuring a pair of 'contemporary grotesques', this series was born from a trip to Rome where he was taken by the Greek and Roman busts and figures that lined the streets and galleries of the Italian capital.
Two masterfully modelled figures are entwined together, trapped in a glass dome sitting atop a tall orange plinth. While some figures are positioned back-to-back, LGD's sculpture has one figure peering over the shoulder of another staring out with a distorted grimace.
No doubt, SIX CENT SOIXANTE SIX (2023) featuring two stuffed bunnies laid across this mustard yellow Triumph TR6 will be the star of the show in Paris.
While Lucas has been working with cars since the 1990s, to see one in such pristine condition—even whole—is a rarity. Often severed or embellished with cigarettes—as with This Jaguar's Going to Heaven (2018) in her current Tate Britain survey (28 September 2023–14 January 2024)—their burnt-out engines embody the driver that once sat within them.
For this 2023 work in Paris, the car is a pedestal for her eponymous bunnies. 'When you see a Sarah Lucas sculpture, it efficiently communicates about gender, sex, death, and language, often using humour as an entry point. It packs a punch but doesn't lecture. The expression of her ideas is very clear to audiences,' explains Sadie Coles.
Roni Horn's Untitled ("The heart of a blue whale is the size of a car.") (2021–2022) at Hauser & Wirth
It's always a joy to see Roni's Horn's sculptures in the flesh. Showing with blue chip gallery Hauser & Wirth, the American artist brings her fluorescent purple cast glass sculpture to Paris.
Untitled ("The heart of a blue whale is the size of a car.") (2021–2022) is a jelly-like disc of translucent solid glass. Horn juxtaposes fluidity with solidity by using reflective surfaces and curved edges, imbuing her work with a malleable and soft appearance.
Drawn to the idea of something appearing one way while being fundamentally different, Horn utilises glass—a supercooled liquid—as a deceptive guise to exemplify how what you see is not necessarily what you get.
Horn's presentation at Paris + par Art Basel coincides with her solo exhibition A dream dreamt in a dreaming world is not really a dream ... but a dream not dreamt is, currently on view at He Art Museum in Guangdong, China (7 June–19 November 2023).
A fundamental yet underlooked figure of midcentury American Surrealism, Gertrude Abercrombie made enigmatic paintings of otherworldly scenes inspired by her own life.
Encampment (White Mountain) (1948) highlights why Abercrombie was grouped with the Surrealists. Its hazy depiction of a great snow-covered mountain, with a scattering of different coloured tents at its base, feels both strange and unreal.
The tent in Abercrombie's paintings symbolises a fleeting sanctuary in the midst of an immense landscape. Though it offers temporary refuge, a tent is susceptible to the brutal forces of nature. It could be understood as a metaphor for her own doubts and insecurities at a time when she divorced and remarried in the same year.
The resurgence of interest in Surrealism has undoubtedly led to a heightened scrutiny and demand for Abercrombie's work in recent years.
Main image: Sarah Lucas, SIX CENT SOIXANTE SIX (2023). Triumph TR6 car, tights, wire, wool, shoes, acrylic paint, wigs, overall. 207 x 400 cm. Courtesy Sadie Coles HQ.