Art Paris 2018: A Preview

Art Paris celebrates its 20th anniversary

Apr 02, 2018 | By Toby Wu

Todd Hido, ‘10707-7’, 2011. Image courtesy La Galerie Particulière/Galerie Foucher-Biousse.

Art Paris Art Fair marks its 20th year by bringing together 142 galleries from 23 countries. Held at the Grand Palais from 5 to 8 April 2018, diversity and discovery are key themes for the fair, combining region-by-region explorations of European art from the post-war years and a cosmopolitan perspective on international emerging scenes.

True to its original vocation to support the French art scene, the fair will be juxtaposing the subjective, historical and critical perspective of an exhibition curator, with a selection of specific projects focussing on artists in France who, both in the past and today, have managed to preserve their independence from dominant trends, or were situated on the margin of mainstream art history.

Pascal Berthoud, ‘Burning Snow I’, 2017. Image courtesy Gowen Contemporary.

Guest curator Francois Piron, an independent curator, art critic, art educator and publisher will oversee the main exhibition as well as Art Paris’ mainstay sections such as the special VIP programme ‘Springtime in Paris’, Solo Shows and Promises. Solo Show encourages monographic exhibitions with subsidised tariffs for established artists, this year covering 15 exhibitions including Georges Jeanclos, Kengo Kuma and Mohamed Lekleti amongst others. Promises is the fair’s dedication to supporting young galleries who have been in business for less than 6 years, covering 45% of their participations costs. This year, artists from participating galleries under the Promises section, such as Montoro12 Contemporary Art Brussels, H Gallery and Galleria Anna Marra, will be considered for the L’Art est Vivant young talent prize which was first established in 2017.

Switzerland is the Guest of Honour for the year, bringing its history of strong intercultural European influences. The Guest of Honour each year provides insight into an art scene foreign to Paris, and introduces artists previously unfamiliar to the French market. Karine Tissot, the curator of this showcase, seeks to highlight the younger generation of artists that have emerged from a rich Swiss arts scene. Previous Guests of Honour include Africa (2017), South Korea (2016), Southeast Asia (2015) and China (2014).

Paul Vergier, ‘Le Réel est Un Pli’, 2017. Image courtesy H Gallery.

Art Paris continues to reflect contemporary cultural innovations, showcasing digital art by Videlio. The façade of the historic Grand Palais will be transformed by digitally mapped projections, bringing to life the fair venue’s iconic exterior.

ART REPUBLIK speaks to Fair Manager, Guillaume Piens, on his vision for the fair.

This year marks Art Paris Art Fair’s 20th anniversary and a return to the fair’s focus on the French art scene. In this context, what do you think the presence of the guest of honour, Switzerland, contributes to the fair?

Switzerland is at the crossroads of different European traditions because it combines elements of French, German and Mediterranean cultures. The country is defined by regionalism with towns and cantons that enjoy a high level of autonomy and which are very different in the way they are organised. The fact that Art Paris has invited thirteen Swiss galleries– from Lausanne, Zurich, Basel, Neuchâtel, Geneva and Bern– seems to me to be entirely in phase with the fair’s vocation, which is showcasing different regions of Europe and, in so doing, differentiating itself from the art fair FIAC which is more focused on the British and American markets.

Why did you chose François Piron to be Art Paris’s 20th anniversary edition guest curator and what do you think he will bring to the fair?

François Piron is an exhibition curator and art critic who is known for being independent-minded and for the analytical talents he brings to bear. In 2002, he founded a periodical, ‘Trouble’. He was the co-director of the Laboratoires d’Aubervilliers, and he also recently curated an exhibition at the Maison Rouge about French counterculture in the 60s and 70s.

For its 20th anniversary, and in reference to its initial vocation of supporting the French art market, Art Paris Art Fair asked François Piron to take a subjective look at the French scene. The idea was to select 20 artists from among the projects presented by participating galleries and to produce an in-depth textual analysis of their work. His choice puts the spotlight on unique figures from the 1960s to the present day, who have managed to preserve their independence, or stayed on the margins of mainstream culture and whose work today deserves to be reinterpreted and enjoy greater visibility. This theme-based project is an integral part of Art Paris Art Fair’s aim to be both a spring art fair in Paris , whilst putting the accent on discovering, or rediscovering, artists.

Blek Le Rat, ‘Bohémian Rhapsody’, 2012. Image courtesy Galerie Ange Basso.

How do you think the Promises sector and prize have helped young galleries reinforce their presence on the art market and stimulate the French/European art market?

Gallery participation in the sector is subsided by the fair and this allows 12 young international galleries to exhibit at the Grand Palais, which is a decidedly prestigious venue. The prize, which was created in 2017, is supported by a collective of art enthusiasts and collectors and is an additional initiative that promotes the recognition of an emerging talent at a key moment in his/her career. The prizewinner of the first edition of the competition was Dalila Dalas Bouzar, a young North African artist represented by Galerie Cécile Fakhoury in Abidjan. She received a 5,000 prize and benefitted from a communication campaign that gave her work international visibility.

Since you took over as the fair’s director in 2011, there has been a progression towards online sales and digital art, such as this year’s plans for digital mapping on the facade of the Grand Palais. How do you see the role of technology at Art Paris in the coming years?

Digital technology has had an enormous impact on the way art is promoted and sold. Art Paris Art Fair was one of the first fairs in France to provide 100 % virtual coverage of the fair. Our website features search filters that allow the public to find what they are looking for using such criteria as price, country of origin and medium. In addition, all of the images on the site can be freely shared on social media.

As far as digital art is concerned, Art Paris Art Fair was one of the first fairs to devise a digital art programme featuring works projected on the Grand Palais façade every evening, which is transformed for the occasion into a living wall of images.

For the fair’s 20th edition and in relation to our guest of honour Switzerland, the digital projection programme gives pride of place to a highly innovative generation of Swiss artists with Camille Scherrer, Alan Bogana and Yves Netzhammer who represented Switzerland at the 2007 Venice Biennale.

Georges Jeanclos, ‘Couple’, 1995. Image courtesy Galerie Capazza.

The press release mentioned that “a wind of change is blowing across France and particularly Paris”. What changes do you expect to see in European/French art?

With President Emmanuel Macron, we are seeing real changes in France. His election was a key event, not just for France, but for the whole of Europe. Paris has been chosen to host the Olympic Games in 2024 and is certainly benefitting from this new dynamic. There is an increasing number of private initiatives, for example with the future opening of Lafayette Anticipations by the Fondation d’entreprise Galeries Lafayette next March, which will be followed in 2019 by the arrival of the Fondation Pinault at the Bourse du Commerce. There is a renewed spirit of optimism in France today.

ART REPUBLIK is proud to be a media partner of Art Paris.

This article was written by Toby Wu for Art Republik 18.

More information at

Back to top