Victoire de Pourtalès and Hélène Nguyen-Ban opened the VNH Gallery, a new art space in Paris dedicated to contemporary art with an inaugural installation by Cameroon-born artist Pascale Marthine Tayou.
Pascale Marthine Tayou explores the space on the occasion of its reconstruction, with the exhibition titled « Gri-Gri » from April 25th till June 20th.
Momentarily « deconstructed » in order to reveal its future volumes, the gallery is reduced to its raw structure : the artist presents six major installations, most of which entirely new, created specially for the site. Following the success of his exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery in London, it is the first show by Pascale Marthine Tayou in the heart of Paris.
The installation “Close”, the space’s first opening, greets the visitor not wit- hout irony; the playfulness of the neon signs indicating “Fermé. Geschlossen. ???????. Pechado. uvaliwe. …” As well as the sign “Close”, hinting that the opening of the venue hangs upon only one letter; that the beginning is “close.” Nearly “Closed”, but at the same time, it is open to all the possibilities and in all languages.
The initiatory journey can begin. The mundane learns of a hundred chalk panels that become tableaux, allowing the tools to be put forth as art and a repetitive coloured sphere, dancing, setting the rhythm of the initiation ceremony; “the scent of chalk stifling our otherworldly desires…” reveals the artist/holy being. At the back of the room, a charcoal blackboard awakens our anxious school- time memories—but this time, allowing us to imprint our wishes upon it. This spiritual systematisation questions the sacred aspect of the exhibition and its ceremonial proceedings.
A hybrid baobab soars up in the light of the venue, in full regeneration. Crys- tal masks are exhibited like blooms: who are we behind the masks? Halfway between life and death, the photosynthesis of the small tree is restricted by a haze of pipes, like so many knotted cerebral stratagems inviting artistic choices to be made. It’s at once “showing the behind-the scenes, or showing the scenery inside out,” muses the artist.
In this same room, hostile-looking stakes repel as much as they attract. These overly-carved leaden posts, where colour transfixes itself, resonate with the nee- dles jabbed onto the wall, invoking a voodoo rendition. This partition becomes the skin’s renewal.
Lastly, in the darkness of the talisman cave—the heart of the exhibition—crystal dolls, clusters of gourds, and pillars cohabitate. Talking too much about it would be calling the evil eye.
In the fall 2015, VNH Gallery will finally settle permanently in the entirely renewed space and will unfold its programme of events, which is to be announced shortly.
108, rue Vielle du Temple,