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Leandro Erlich. Sous le ciel. Installation at Le Bon Marché

Leandro Erlich. Sous le ciel. Installation at Le Bon Marché

Art Notes
Leandro Erlich, Le Bon Marché, Paris Sous le ciel (Under the Sky)
From January 12 to February 18, 2018


Paris, France
Christine Frèrot

Commissioned by the famous Parisian Le Bon Marché Rive Gauche department store (the first large department store in Paris, since its revamp in 1852), and following other spectacular installations by Wei Wei (2016) and Chirahu Shiota (2017), two artists whose careers are also closely associated with the French capital, Leandro Erlich (Buenos Aires, 1973) imagined five interventions in several spaces within the department store. The Argentinean artist is no stranger to the French art scene; his presence in the hexagon has experienced an ascending curve since his first participation with Eau molle (Soft Water), Toulouse, 2003; followed by Nuit Blanche (All-Nighter), Paris, 2004; La Plaza (The Square), Saint Nazaire, 2005; Notre Historie (Our History), Palais de Tokyo, Paris, 2008; Le regard (The Look), Centro Pompidou, Paris, 2011; and, most recently, with his Maison fond (Melted House, 2015), a permanent installation located in front of the Gare du Nord train station in Paris, on the occasion of the Nuit Blanche; among others interventions.

Titled "Under the Sky," the proposal for Le Bon Marché consists of several installations, some of which surprise us for their minimalist rigor (the escalators) and poetry (the skylight). While the former intervention centers around the famous main escalators—designed by Andrée Putman in 1990—located in the center of the store as object of reflection, the latter focuses on two large sections of the 19th century glass roof that covers the store. On the one hand, the piece is an inquiry into the architecture of a space—something that has been one of Erlich's preoccupations and a source of inspiration for his in situ projects—and, on the other, a reflection on the passing of time and the mood changes that it elicits.

In the intervention of the escalators, Erlich renders a prolonged and twisted version of the black and white gridded sides of the moving stairway to form a sort of knot, in a formal gesture that introduces the endless knot idea found in Tibetan Buddhism and Celtic culture. But the mocárabe of intertwined ribbons also suggests the continuous movement of infinity. This work, a reflection on the kinetic aesthetic of forms, optical illusion, as well as on the construction and destruction of lines, fascinates viewers as a dual and ambiguous eclipse that, like the videos projected onto the skylight, suggests the idea of time as a simultaneously still and active phenomenon.

Consisting of two videos projected onto two of the roof's clear glass sections, the second intervention depicts cloud formations moving across the sky—and, even a few flying birds from time to time—that evoke a longing for infinity while also underscoring the fleeting nature of beings and things.

Leandro Erlich explains: "About the theme of the exhibition and its title, Sous le ciel   "Under the Sky," they originate in my fascination for the urban sky. To me, every city maintains a close relationship with 'its' sky, influencing the life of its inhabitants as well as the overall energy and environment of the place. The sky changes the way in which a city is perceived: one day can elicit longing and encourage reflection, while another can favor happiness […]. I believe that the Parisian sky is different from any other urban sky. And I also think that it has a real effect in the people's mood and outlook. The sky in Paris changes a lot, sometimes even during the course of a single day… It is a sky that encourages me to reflect."

In the display windows along the rue de Sèvres, we find a series of clouds whose concept originated in the works already presented in 2012 at the Galería Ruth Benzacar, in Buenos Aires. This group complements and strengthens the magical quality, challenging stance (towards beliefs and certainties), and fictional and oneiric nature that inhabit and are the basis of Leandro Erlich's entire body of work.




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