All the credit cards flocked to Paris this week. FIAC, Officielle, Art Élysées, Paris Internationale, and a couple more art supermarkets readily welcomed visitors of all profiles: collectors, art dealers, gallerists, curators, artists, rich socialites, broke enthusiasts, all-attenders...
As I anticipated, Berlin darlings Eva and Adele were also there, pretty in red, at the Eva Presenhuber Gallery. I've probably passed by many other known and semi-known faces without noticing, and it seemed as this event was not so much about the seeing-and-being-seen game anyway. Being present meant tagging your presence with a photo of an artwork at a hip gallery booth, at one of the most prestigious yearly events, in a city where interest in art is a fashion must - something to upscale your image with.
Paris, after all, is the city which professed fine living. Mostly the luxury and the excess that dances on thin line with kitsch, which was somehow embodied in what was probably the most photographed and secretly enjoyed piece at FIAC, dangling and sparkling above the booths – the Swarowski sculpture made by everyone's favorite artist of 2014 (ours too) Wu Tsang. It was the view that welcomed us upon entering the hall, and it remained a reference point for the general vibe at Grand Palais, as well as for disoriented people trying to reach the cloakroom or a certain exit / lounge / a booth that magically appeared only once with all the best artworks and you were unable to locate it ever again.
Speaking of magic, the absolute #1 Narnia booth is Galerie Kamel Mennour. A wonderful collection as if completely staged for an extravagant fairytale, with the right input of big names, shiny surfaces, neons, colors and non-colors, weird and beautiful things... Many will surely agree that this is the winner booth, or at least among the top 5. Kamel Mennour himself sitting there in good company with the artworks by Alicja Kwade, Anish Kapoor, Daniel Buren, Lee Ufan, and Francois Morellet among others, seemed like a planned part of the installation, and his photogenic presence was sort of a hint that this was It, and it won't get much better.
But it does get very close. Actually, all the best booths are just a wall or a few away, but the odd laws of nature make you go through a lot of underwhelming ones to get to the good stuff.
And by 'good stuff' I mean (heavily reduced and in random order): Marian Goodman, Hauser & Wirth, Lisson Gallery, David Zwirner, Galerie Perrotin, White Cube ... All of which were in the spotlight before and after the opening – with an obvious reason, that is. A good mix of art superstars and emerging geniuses, well presented, and often with a very presentable gallerist
(everybody was staring at Carol Bove's peacock piece...or so it seemed).
The less media-exposed ones which give a feeling of a great discovery are Kurimanzutto (Mexico City) and Xavier Hufkens (Brussels), with booths facing each other. Both gave the impression of a strong representative of their local scene, and a nod at the rumors about the two cities as the next big thing in the art world.
And then, of course, a honorable mention goes to all the mirror artworks which were a dominating trend, and not surprisingly affecting the visitors engaging in dopamine-fueled selfie battles. But that is a vast topic which we might give special attention to in the following days (stay tuned!).
In all of its grandeur, FIAC leaves very little time for all of the other events spread througout Paris in just a few days. "We Are On Fire / I'm So Fucking Tired" (as the artwork in the first photo above puts it perfectly well) state of mind catches up quickly, and if you need to prioritize, next stop should be OFFICIELLE.
Smaller, visitor-friendlier, less crowded and with less of the airport type of procedures to get in, it offers more space for chit-chat with the gallerists and the artists, and overall it has a more relaxed and fun vibe; possibly brought by the few pretty cool LA galleries: Ibid., Chateau Shatto, Harmony Murphy, Nicodim Gallery...
The rooftop bar can be a quick escape for a drink or a few more after the sad realisation that you might not be able to purchase that art piece, like, ever.
"I'll buy everything!
... Just kidding :("
@ Martin van Zomeren booth - one of the personal favorites at Officielle
Back to the bright side, one special highlight was Sophie Jung, who I overheard explaining her work to interested guests. Sophie awesomely offered to do the entire performance just for us, which came as a mitigating moment to realise that windowshopping at art fairs can be much more of a rewarding experience than you would expect. Even if you have no intentions to contribute to the art market monetarily, enjoy the little encounters, and spread the word about artists and galleries you appreciate.
FIAC // 22 - 25.10 // more info
OFFICIELLE // 21 - 25.10 // more info
* cover image: "We are on fire" - by artist group Famed @ ASPN Gallery (Leipzig) / booth C45, Officielle