The must-see exhibition that is currently hosted at the Monnaie de Paris ambitiously gambles on making the Arte Povera (« poor art ») shine under the gildings. It is called « Brut(e) », which translates as « Raw », and it truly is. As a major figure of contemporary art, Greek artist Jannis Kounellis is among the pioneers of Arte Povera. Born in Italy at the end of the 1960s, this movement was formed in the idea of resisting the fancy cultural industry, and the consumer society in general. By using « poor materials » such as sand, soil, tar and hessian, Arte Povera artists chose to favour the creation process over the finished product. By according meaning to seamingly meaningless objects, they « impoverished » Art, but most of all desecrated it.
When he received the invitation by the Monnaie de Paris, Jannis Kounellis replied « I am coming to Paris empty-handed, as an old painter ». The word has been said, the exhibition will be presenting a poor, bare and raw art. In the fancy decor of the Monnaie de Paris palace, with its columns, trappings, marbles and gildings, the result is surprising to say the least. Visitors will find pieces that clash so much with their hosting place that they only shine even brighter.
The thousand square meters of 18th Century lounges of the palace are inhabited by pieces that are seamingly under construction. The ensemble looks like some kind of artist workshop, where the sacredness of art seems to have its hands in sludge. Where the most ancient firm in the world used to make coins, the artist invites this same material, metal, in its rawest form. Metallic easels that stage the art of painting, dorms and impressive pieces that remind one of the brutality of the war... Brut(e) is an exhibition that hits you right in the face.
Cheap materials invade the space in a cold, violent and silent installation. Somewhere in the visit, a strange performance is playing with the fancy codes of art. Accompanied by a violin player in a suit, a ballerina accomplishes an unsettling dance, in a decor marked by the contrast between the architecture of the 18th Century lounge and the dirty hessian clothes that hang along one of the walls of the room.
After having shaken the public with his last exhibition entitled « Take me (I'm yours) » where visitors were invited to take objects that belonged to artists, Jannis Kounellis is yet again offer visitors a true experience, in an exhibition built as a definitely concrete, lively and raw fresco.
From March 11th to April 30th, 2016 at the Monnaie de Paris, 11 quai de Conti, 75006 Paris
Timetable : everyday from 11 a.m to 7 p.m, until 10 p.m on Thursdays
Fees : 12€, 8€ reduced price
Photographer : Manolis Baboussis © Monnaie de Paris, 2016 Courtesy of the artist