The Must-See Exhibitions in Paris During FIAC

With the fair in town, a guide to the best shows to see in the French capital

BY Dorian Batycka in Critic's Guides | 16 OCT 19

Katinka Bock, Rauschen (Breaking Waves), 2019, copper, fibreglass. Courtesy: the artist, Jocelyn Wolff, Paris, Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe/Berlin and Great Meert, Brussels; photograph and ©: Pierre Antoine and Lafayette Anticipations, Paris

Katinka Bock, ‘Commotion in Higienópolis’
Lafayette Anticipations
9 October – 5 January 2020

With her current solo exhibition at Lafayette Anticipations, German artist Katinka Bock continues her longstanding investigation into preconceptions of space. For ‘Commotion in Higienópolis’, the Marcel Duchamp prize nominee examines the restoration of one of Germany’s first skyscrapers: the Anzeiger-Hochhaus in Hanover, which houses the weekly newspapers Der Stern and Der Spiegel. Using copper plates taken from the dome of the central tower, Bock’s monumental sculpture Rauschen (Breaking Waves, 2019) plays on the symbolic tension between architecture and social space, positing how the physical materiality of a structure impacts its ability to speak to wider social, political and historical dimensions.

Jesse Darling, Untitled, 2019, museum vitrine and flowers, dimension variable. Courtesy: the artist and Gallery Sultana, Paris

Jesse Darling, ‘Selva Oscura' 
Galerie Sultana
13 October – 23 November

Fresh off their first institutional exhibition in France at the Friche la Belle de Mai in Marseille and their recent showing in Ralph Rugoff’s exhibition ‘May You Live In Interesting Times’ at this year’s Venice Biennale, Berlin-based artist Jesse Darling opens their second solo show at Galerie Sultana. For ‘Selva Oscura’, they created glass cabinets with colourful bouquets (Untitled, 2019) and a forest of crutches with archival binders and toilet brushes as treetops (Saint Jerome in the wilderness (15 sculptures), 2018), evoking the general sense of malaise and exhaustion around the turbulent failings of architectural, cultural, and now, botanical bodies. 

‘70.001’, 2019, installation view, Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, Komunuma, Romainville. Courtesy: the artists; photograph: François Doury

Air de Paris, Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, In Situ Fabienne Leclerc, Foundation Fiminco and Sator
Grand opening: 20 October

With rent prices in the French capital skyrocketing, it’s little wonder that many galleries are turning their sights beyond the centre to the city’s notorious suburbs. Komunuma – meaning ‘community’ in Esperanto – is the name of an almost 11,000 square-metre-site in the borough of Romainville, renovated by Fondation Fiminco, where a number of contemporary art galleries will move in this October. One of them, Galerie Jocelyn Wolff, will be presenting a group show inspired by German artist Clemens von Wedemeyer. While over at Galerie Jeune Création, a group show will display works by some of the city’s most exciting young artists including Alice Guittard, Johann Nöhles, Simon Pasieka, among others.

Mona Hatoum, ‘Mona Hatoum’, 2019, installation view, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; photograph: Florian Kleinefenn

Mona Hatoum, ‘Hatoum’ 
Galerie Chantal Crousel
12 October – 23 November 

Known for her politically charged works that explore themes like exile, mass-migration and displacement, British-Palestinian artist Mona Hatoum is experiencing renewed and timely interest today, particularly since her remarkable show at the Tate Modern in 2016. While most would likely relax after such major achievements, Hatoum has doubled down on her commitment to social justice issues by using her art to champion the voiceless victims of trauma and distress, subjects which she has been exploring her entire career. For her latest exhibition at Galerie Chantal Crousel, the artist unveils her knack for waxing poetic on these difficult subjects by creating sculptures which disentangle the often fraught contradiction between beauty and violence, order and destruction. The sculpture Hot Spot (stand) (2018), a metal globe that radiated heat, for instance, hints at the inherently unstable world we live in.

Liz Magor, Drinks Around the World, 2017, polymerized gypsum, textile, plastic bag, glass bottles, 72 × 42 × 18 cm. Courtesy: the artist

Liz Magor, ‘Xhilaration’ 
Marcelle Alix
5 September – 26 October

After recent solo shows at The Renaissance Society in Chicago and Cambridge’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Canadian artist Liz Magor now brings her sense of post-mortem whimsy to Paris. For her exhibition at Marcelle Alix, she placed boxes containing found objects in the gallery space and created unlikely pairings such as taxidermy, clothes and magazines. When placed alongside one another, their display enables subtle connections to form in the viewers mind. In Drinks around the world (2017), for example, a stuffed dog is stretching for a plastic bag full of miniature alcohol bottles, its elongated limbs hanging downward like it was drunk. The absurdity of a wasted dog notwithstanding, Magor’s works question the production of meaning and how relationships between objects can shift and explore social histories, full of equal doses of camp and seriousness. 

Kiki Smith, Rapture, 2001, bronze, 171 × 158 × 67 cm, Courtesy: the artist and Pace Gallery; photograph: Richard Max-Tremblay

Kiki Smith
Monnaie de Paris
October 18 – 9 February 2020

In an extensive solo exhibition at Monnaie de Paris, nearly 100 works by American artist Kiki Smith, including two sculptures in the institution’s exterior courtyards (Seer (Alice I), 2005, and Mary Magdalene, 1994), will cover the full span of floors. The exhibition includes a polyphony of media ranging from sculptures to bronze, plaster, wax, embroideries and tapestry from the artist’s œuvre. Familiar themes like fairy tales, biblical subjects, female identity, nature and mythology – motifs that have come to define the artist’s works from the 1980s to the present day – take over the Monnaie in what is the artist’s largest show ever in France. 

Bruno Serralongue, Station des recharges des téléphones, ‘bidonville d’Etat’pour migrants (Telephone charging station,‘state slum’ for migrants), Calais, 3 novembre 2015, 2006-2018, 50 × 62 cm, Centre Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, Paris. Courtesy and ©: Bruno Serralongue and Air de Paris

Calais – Témoigner de la ‘Jungle’’ 
Centre Pompidou
16 October – 24 February 2020

When Calais’s refugee camp closed permanently in 2016, few could have imagined what life inside one of Europe’s most notorious migrant camps was like. However, a new exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, brings together images from the inside. The exhibition assembles a vast array of never before seen photo documentation taken from refugees and aid workers who lived in Calais, paired together with images by journalists. It bears witness to the constantly shapeshifting and evolving geopolitical problem of mass migration and is here told from the perspective of a place worldwide known as ‘The Jungle.’

Raymond Pettibon, ‘Frenchette’, 2019, installation view, David Zwirner, Paris. Courtesy: the artist and David Zwirner, Paris; photograph: Jack Hems

Raymond Pettibon, ‘Frenchette’
David Zwirner
16 October – 23 November

The inaugural exhibition of David Zwirner’s new Parisian outpost is dedicated to the work of American artist Raymond Pettibon. Spanning his four-decade career, the show exhibits an eclectic body of work partly inspired by the DIY aesthetic of album covers and comics of the Southern California punk-rock scene of the late 1970s and 1980s. With Zwirner’s hotly anticipated move to Paris coming on the heels of Brexit (according to Zwirner: ‘Brexit changes the game. After October, my London gallery will be a British gallery, not a European one’), it will be interesting to watch if other international galleries will follow suit. 

Main image: ‘Mona Hatoum’, 2019, installation view, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris. Courtesy: the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; photograph: Florian Kleinefenn

Dorian Batycka is a writer and curator based in Berlin, Germany.