Lumières: The Play of Brilliants & Takis: Champs Magnétiques

February 7, 2010By Heidi EllisonArchive

Let There Be Light . . .
And Movement


“Circular” by WHITEvoid and “Disco Disco” by Haberdashery. Photo: Emmanuel Donny

The name of the show “Lumières: Play of Brilliants” might not make much sense in English, but this exhibition at L’Eléphant Paname is brilliant in both senses of the word, sparkling with installations that paint with light.

The most spectacular piece in the show, which seeks “to break down the barriers between art, design, architecture, technology and industry,” is “Light in Water” by architects DGT, a room-filling circular wall of falling water


“Light in Water” (2015) © DGT. Photo: Emmanuel Donny

that glitters in the changing light and produces the soothing sound of gentle rainfall. Everyone should have one of these at home as a setting for quiet contemplation.

Another artist, Laura Bayliss, used the laws of physics – refraction, diffusion, etc. – to create, “Lumières Chevauchement,” a luminous “painting” that gives the impression of three-dimensionality with its different colors, shapes and patterns.

Upstairs in Eléphant Paname’s beautiful 19th-century mansion (worth a visit in itself), there are a number of standout pieces. “Disco Disco,” by Haberdashery, is a disk (inspired by disco balls) of LEDs programmed to respond to the heartbeat of visitors. “Circular,” by WHITEvoid, is an endlessly fascinating kinetic light sculpture consisting of three rings that constantly and gracefully change color and configuration. Both are pictured at the top of this page.

Soo Sunny Park’s “Unwoven Light,” a giant hanging sculpture, covers the walls, floors


“Unwoven LIght,” by Soo Sunny Park.

and ceilings of an entire room with jewel-like multicolored projections of light.

In the room next to it is another highlight,


“Primary” by Flynn Talbot.

Flynn Talbot’s “Primary.” Looked at straight on, it appears to be a flat work whose colored facets create the illusion of three-dimensionality, but in fact, it is a three-dimensional sculpture with spiky projections.

For a look at the work of one of the granddaddies of these young artists, pay a visit to “Takis: Champs Magnétiques” at the Palais de Tokyo. In the 1950s, this Greek-born artist who has lived in Paris (and who will be 90


Exhibition view of “Takis: Magnetic Fields,” Palais de Tokyo, 2015. Photo: André Morin. ADAGP, Paris 2015.

years old this year), was already breaking down barriers between art, science and technology in his work, bringing into his sculptures movement, light and music. One of his favorite gambits was using magnets to create different effects, as in his “Télépeintures” (1977), paintings transformed into sculptures by the force of magnets in metal cones suspended from the ceiling on wire and attracted to other magnets attached to the back of the canvas.

He also anticipated the rage for interactivity, inviting visitors to his shows to throw nails, for example, or nail filings at a metal surface to create new configurations of a work. Even some of his erotic bronze sculptures make use of magnets: his “Sebastien” (1974) is not pierced with arrows but threatened with sharp implements magnetically attracted to his torso.

The piece I loved most here was “Sculptures Musicales,” works that use simple materials to create random music “from the hereafter” produced by needles attracted and repelled by electromagnetism that strike guitar or violin strings. Surprisingly, this accidental symphony is not jarring or cacophonous but strangely soothing.

The show ends with Takis’s “Signals,”


Exhibition view of “Takis: Magnetic Fields,” Palais de Tokyo, 2015. Photo: André Morin. ADAGP, Paris 2015.

Giacometti-inspired light-topped sculptures that look like gems on sticks and have a droll effect when grouped together.

Combining art with science sounds like serious business, but when artists like Takis and his younger colleagues at Eléphant Paname try their hand at it, the result is pure enjoyment.

Heidi Ellison

Eléphant Paname: 10 rue Volney, 75002 Paris. Métro: Opéra. Tel.: 01 49 27 83 33. Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-7pm.. Admission: €9. Through May 31, 2015.

Palais de Tokyo: 13, avenue du Président Wilson, 75116 Paris. Métro: Iéna. Tel.: 01 47 23 54 01. Open Wednesday-Monday, noon-midnight. Closed Tuesday. Admission: €10. Through May 17, 2015.

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