Gallery Hopping

On the Move in Paris Galleries

February 3, 2021By Heidi EllisonExhibitions
Screenshot from William Kentridge’s animated film "Tide Table."
Screenshot from William Kentridge’s animated film “Tide Table.”

In line with its mission – promoting contemporary drawing and raising awareness of its importance in all artistic fields – the nonprofit Drawing Lab gallery has teamed up with the Cinémathèque Française to put on the exhibition “Tout un Film!,” which turns the klieg lights on the way drawing is used in filmmaking.

"Maquette" (2019), by Mathieu Dufois. © Mathieu Dufois and Galerie C, Neuchâtel, Switzerland
“Maquette” (2019), by Mathieu Dufois. © Mathieu Dufois and Galerie C, Neuchâtel, Switzerland

To make its point, the show presents both historical documents, including film posters and the storyboard (comic-strip-like sketches used to plan shots for a film) for Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather: Part II,” by Alex Tavoularis, and film-inspired works commissioned from artists, including a drawing by Mathieu Dufois, inspired by a 1947 drawing by Alexandre Trauner for director Marcel Carné’s film La Fleur de l’Âge (never made), which the artist discovered in the Cinémathèque’s archives.

The star piece of this rather sparse exhibition is William Kentridge’s short animated film “Tide Table,” (2013), in which the South African artist reacts to the devastation caused by AIDS in South Africa and once again demonstrates his immense talent for morphing his drawings into captivating films (using a technique he calls “poor man’s animation) while subtly communicating a political message. In this video, Kentridge explains how he makes his animated films:

“Tide Table” is set on a beach as the tide rises and falls. We see through the walls of beach huts and watch as a man in a dark, pinstriped suit (Soho Eckstein, a recurring figure in Kentridge’s work who represents the archetypical capitalist and resembles a mobster) sits in a deckchair and reads the tide table in a newspaper. Cattle wade in the water, where a baptismal ceremony takes place. The scene changes to a hospital ward where people are dying of AIDS. All the while, three nasty-looking men who look like military dictators spy on the beach through binoculars from the balcony of a nearby building.

A graphic from the Agence Ter exhibition at the Galerie d’Architecture.
A graphic from the Agence Ter exhibition at the Galerie d’Architecture.

Presenting a different type of animated drawing, the Galerie d’Architecture in the Marais is spotlighting the work of Agence Ter, a leading Paris-based landscape-architecture firm and winner of the 2018 Grand Prix de l’Urbanisme, a French urban-planning award.

The design of Ter’s parks around the world is based on the agency’s “living soil” approach, which involves analyzing the soil of an urban site and restoring its vitality by capturing and retaining water and transforming it into an “island of freshness,” with a cooler temperature and increased biodiversity and evapotranspiration while also welcoming varied human activities. Local birds and bees and many other insects and small animals are attracted to these new ecosystems planted with appropriate flora.

The Parc de Billancourt in Boulogne-Billancourt.
The Parc de Billancourt in Boulogne-Billancourt.

For the exhibition, a number of parks, from Paris to Detroit to Shanghai, have been illustrated with beautiful and entertaining graphics that come alive with animation one by one, showing what’s under the ground and what’s above it. On a soundtrack, we hear the songs and buzzing of outsized birds and insects fluttering by onscreen and watch the park’s human visitors as they play, exercise and relax. In Barcelona, we get a good view of the Sagrada Familia, Montjuic and the Olympic Port from the viewing platform in the Place de les Glóries Catalanes. In the Parc de Billancourt just outside Paris, a hydraulic system allows its water feature to act as if it were a branch of the nearby Seine, absorbing overflow water from the river and rising and falling with the water table.

The graphics will almost certainly make you want to visit these innovative parks. Luckily, in addition to the Parc de Billancourt, there are two others easily reached from Paris: the Parc des Docks in Saint Ouen and the Parc du Peuple de l’Herbe in Carrières-sous-Poissy.

Drawing Lab Paris: 17, rue de Richelieu, 75001 Paris. Tel.: 01 73 62 11 17. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-5:30pm. Through February 27, 2021. Free admission.

Galerie d’Architecture: 11, rue des Blancs-Manteaux, 75004 Paris. Tel.: 01 49 96 64 00. Open Tuesday-Saturday, 11am-7pm. Through February 27, 2021. Free admission.


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