Grand Palais Ephemere, where the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC) in Paris took place in 2021. Photo: Hélio Campos Mello
Grand Palais Ephemere, where the International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC) in Paris took place in 2021. Photo: Hélio Campos Mello

En numerous countries in Europe, the return to the assembly of shows, fairs and events has managed to bring together cautious visitors, but delighted to be able to meet their colleagues, their customers and a wide public eager to experience the contact with the work again.

There are still programming difficulties, as several countries face different scenarios regarding vaccination, resulting in new peaks of contamination. With the arrival of winter in the northern hemisphere and new strains of the virus, the predisposition to the disease increases, which is leading to a hardening of measures on the part of governments, inclined to make vaccination mandatory. In France, even using masks strictly, the visitor cannot enter any establishment, be it a restaurant, drugstore or museum without the presentation of the Sanitary passport French or the country of origin translated and recognized.

Specifically, the traditional french fair FIAC, which took place from the 21st to the 24th of October in Paris, has returned completely redesigned at the Grand Palais Éphémère, as its original address, the Grand Palais, has undergone a heavy renovation since 2019. This new space, built especially for the fair , was authorized at the National Meeting of Museums with the Paris 2024 Olympic Games Committee. It was built by the architect Jean-Michele Wilmotte in the space next to Place Joffre, on the Champ de Mars, taking into account sustainable materials (wood, canvas) that can be to be easily dismantled and repackaged.

The fair, at the opening, was presented almost improvised, with a good security system, but with numerous problems in customer service. Precarious system of agenda, service to the press and visitors and some poorly maintained stands. Comfortable spaces were not designed for gathering, reading and planning on the way between the stands.

This, which says more about the fair's administrative management, almost a certain arrogance, however it did not dull the brilliance of the exhibitors who competed from several countries in Europe, Africa and Asia and who always bring excellent casts.

Historic and traditional galleries such as Thaddaeus Ropac showed works by Georg Baselitz, coinciding with the new retrospective of the German artist that has just opened at the Pompidou Center, and which will remain until March 7, 2022. Thaddaeus Ropac sold, of the artist, bad in flur (2021), in the amount of 1.2 million euros.

The Gallery 1900-2000, founded in 1972 under the advice of Man Ray, it initially focused on Dadaism, Surrealists, Pop, and Hyper-Realists and expanded its cast to Fluxus and contemporaries such as George Condo and Jean-Michel Basquiat. It traditionally shows treasures by Picabia, Max Ernst and Man Ray, by Alighiero Boetti and Joseph Kosuth.

The Brazilian artist Julio Villani, based in Paris since 1982, forms part of the gallery's core of artists. his work, 65 cm of paint, 1992 acrylic on canvas, was sold on the first day.

Several figurative works reappear as stars. Alice Neil, Chen Ke, Jean-Michel Othoniel, Yves Laloy, which were sold early on. Victoria Miro presented a beautiful series of 10 pastels by Chantal Joffe, What I didn't see, 2019. And black artists also start to have greater expression in the circuit. Templen brought a very original work by Omar Ba, Senegalese born in 1977, Dispersion Devant l'impasse, 2021.

In the context of including artists representing the art brut ou art outsider in the “official circuit of the market", that has been growing since the exhibition Palazzo Enciclopedico, at the 2013 Venice Biennale, and taking part in museums such as the Met and MoMA, the Christian Berst Art Brut from New York presented Czech artist Luboš Plný, whose potent work is the product of his fascination with medical iconography. He even provokes and studies situations in his own body, almost like performances, testing his limits. His work has already been shown at the 17th Venice Biennale and at the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris in 2013.

In the contemporary art sector, Brazilian Jaqueline Martins, who recently opened a branch in Brussels, presented a landscape built with wooden sculptures, each part of a fictional composition. 

As always, FIAC took over the city in association with the Louvre Museum, presenting Outside the walls, around 20 works and installations distributed throughout the Jardin des Tuileries and in the center of Paris.

Visiting the FIAC, for those who buy or for those who are aware of the international movements of modern and contemporary art, is an immense pleasure, even more so because it allows visiting the French museums and institutions whose curators and exhibitions are always a new discovery.

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