In the spirit of the Toussaint (All Souls) school holidays, I took a departure from writing about seeing art differently. Instead this post, subtitled Creepy Contemporary Art at the Petit Palais, is about seeing “different” art in Paris during this weekend only.
Eery clouds hovering in the dark sky set the mood for the first day of the international contemporary art fair, FIAC, in Paris. I emerged from the underground metro stop at Jardin des Tuileries with the intention of exploring the outdoor installations of FIAC Hors les Murs. The first piece I came across in the Tuileries Garden was so ghoulish that a popular saying came to mind about a road that is paved with good intentions. Just then, the rain came pouring down so I decided to take shelter at the indoor exhibition. I ran along the Seine River looking over my shoulder to make sure the gargolyes of Notre Dame were not pursuing me.
It was strangely quiet when I arrived to the Grand Palais. The Avenue Winston Churchill was closed to traffic for the the first time since this venue began hosting the annuel event. Also new, On Site at the Petit Palais just across the street replaced the satellite fair (Off)icielle. By now the rain had reduced to a drizzle but the street was still fairly deserted except for some cryptic writing on the pavement.
As I crossed over to entrance of FIAC at the Grand Palais two cars standing face to face stopped me dead in my tracks. Recalling the furious fenders of a Stephen King novel and popular horror film I took a detour to the Petit Palais. Despite ON SITE being free of charge there was no line to get in. This might have been a premonition.
Walking up the steps to the South Gallery of the Petit Palais, I had the same vision as Charlie Brown. A great pumpkin colored, gourd shaped object appeared ready to take flight. It was in fact a lift bag. Even the animals appeared to be covered with a white sheet reminiscent the ghostly costumes many children wear on Halloweento go out trick or treating for candy.
Wrapped candy is preferable to fresh fruit on especially Halloween. The apples in the next installation reminded me of Wicked Queen in Snow White. No holiday fright night would be complete without a haunted mansion. The tudor style house was more intriguing than spooky, a cross between miniature golf and a fun house.
I would give the prize for best costume to the Tin Man from Wizard of Oz. The prize for the greatest effect with least effort goes to the man with a moustache.
The most ghastly sculpture I saw was a gargantuan eight-headed monster with nine mouths triple ears (the better to hear you with my dear) and (the aspect that really had me heading for the door) hairy legs! Escaping through the peristyle courtyard garden, I looped back towards the entrance and spotted the white marble wings of an angel. She scared the guts out of me when I saw hers beneath a terrifying skeletal face.
After creepy clowns atrocious angels! Is nothing sacred? At least there was a familiar face on my way out to remind me that I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.
Art fairs like this are far too noisy and crowded and overwhelming for people with sensory issues but I enjoy going to FIAC every year by myself. I do however plan to take my son to FIAC Hors les Murs to see the outdoor installations in the Tuileries Garden and Place Vendome and the performances in the Louvre’s Cours Carée. As I stated in a previous post Afternoon in the Park the informal setting on the streets of Paris and its gardens make art accessible in every sense of the word. In my opinion, it is unfortunate that the Jardin des Plantes is not included in FIAC 2016.
In hindsight, I wish I had dressed up in my Halloween costume for this year’s edition. After viewing some of the artwork and visitors I am sure nobody would have looked twice at me. After seeing so much art in one place though I began to see double.