A French Scene Unfolds at the Palais de Tokyo

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There are ties that bind, endure, and inspire. The idea of a deep, transcendent connection guides the newest exhibition from the Palais de Tokyo—Future, Former, Fugitive: A French Scene. Now open in Paris, the show highlights a diverse collection of artists linked to the country of France. The exhibit—titled after a work by experimental writer Olivier Cadiot and his provocative characters—highlights similar visionaries bound together by the nation’s impression onto who they are and the art they imagine.

Future, Former, Fugitive takes a view of the French art world—a snapshot of its creative scene in the modern moment. Curated by Franck Balland, Daria de Beauvais, Adélaïde Blanc, and Claire Moulène, the show offers a landscape within the vast, greater picture of French arts. Spanning locations, generations, and mediums, the show features a range of 44 artists and groups. Their personal bonds to France are a profound bridge between them. “The exhibition links this group of artists through the open idea of territory—by their birth, residence, or other ties,” the curators tell CR. “This reveals not just one French scene, but a number of communities, engagements, and artists who together are contemporaries.”

The exhibition opens with the present cultural moment. The artists shown treat it as a research subject, and their revelations are seen through their artwork. Pierre Joseph’s “Mur de Mûres” blackberry harvest touches on the value of ecology and agriculture, while Anita Molinero’s “Le Bayou Anciennement Dite La Régina” speaks to environmental sustainability. Anne Le Troter’s installations and Nicolas Tubéry’s sculptures symbolize philosophical ideas about our existence. The past also provides a source of artistic inspiration, and the exhibition’s works reference many cultures and civilizations throughout history. Vidya Gastaldon tackles the topic of religion in her mixed-media piece “Let It God (Santa Table),” and Aude Pariset’s raw installations question whether our evolution is truly progressive.

Within the showcase, there are individual creative voices. Anne Bourse’s bedroom setting in “River, Dice, Glass, The Phone Ring” explores the relationship between interior spaces and our private selves. The public domain comes to light in artistic takes on cultures, traditions, and histories. Nils Alix-Tabeling’s sculptures are cued by medieval folklore and Soviet Realism, while Carlotta Bailly-Borg’s paintings combine elements of Hindu mythology and Japanese prints.

Some of the French scene artists take a specialized approach to their work, such as Antoine Marquis’ referential piece “1900-2000 n°9,” and Hendrik Hegray and Jonas Delaborde’s underworld imagery. Other creators favor a broad social lens, often with an updated, inclusive approach. Antoine Renard’s multi-media pieces and Lili Reynaud-Dewar’s video appropriations offer alternatives to historical narratives.

Future, Former, Fugitive takes a distinct view of contemporary French art. With a thought-provoking vantage, the show spurs convention in favor of deeper ideals. “These are borderline artists devoted to a French scene,” the curators share. “They are not artists on the margins, but rather ‘edgy’ artists who question the status quo and let us into their personal imaginations and creative worlds.” With hybrid viewpoints and expressions, the artists are joined here within a French scene. They are bonded by their collective creativity and its lasting, evocative meanings.

Future, Former, Fugitive: A French Scene will be on view at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris from October 16, 2019 to January 5, 2020.

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