For the first of these, the Vent des Forêts art centre invited Andrés Baron, born in 1987 in Bogotá (Colombia), to exhibit at La Grande Place, Musée du Cristal Saint-Louis. A graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs de Paris (France), Andrés Baron immersed himself in the life of the crystalworks, meeting with its craftspeople and exploring its archives, before creating a new ensemble of visual and sound works that dialogue with the museum’s collections. With a string of onomatopoeia as its title – “Cling Cling Boum” – this solo exhibition offers multiple tactile and sensitive interactions resulting from the manipulation of bodies, sounds and objects by the artist. His filmed performances, photographs and sound works together constitute a dreamlike language infused with the precise gestures and unique properties associated with crystal.
When it came time for artist Lionel Sabatté (b. Toulouse, 1975) to immerse himself in the world of Saint-Louis crystalware, at the invitation of the Vent des Forêts art centre, the incessant activity of the site’s craftspeople brought the metaphor of the bee and the beehive to mind. Starting from this initial impression, he created a new artistic itinerary for La Grande Place. The works that make up this ensemble draw on nature, in particular plants and bees, as well as minerals, which are essential to the art of crystalware. With this exhibition, simply entitled “La Ruche”, Lionel Sabatté extends his investigation into the living world and material transformations. Combining elements – almost residues – found in nature, he fashions a hybrid bestiary that is at once unsettling and poetic. Within La Grande Place, alongside the finest and most delicate pieces of crystalware, he deepens his reflection on the place of humans in an ever more fragile world.
Fragility is also apparent in the work of painter Noel Varoqui (b. 1982 in Dourd’hal, Moselle), whose exhibition “on n'est forteresse” brings to a close the programme devised by Vent des Forêts at La Grande Place. Living and working in a village set amidst the forests of the Meuse region, his pictorial practice is an ascetic one, a quest that explores the interiority of the living and the inert, and the precarity of what surrounds us. At La Grande Place, he presents a new series of paintings based on close observation of the plastic qualities of the museum’s collections and the interplay of light within the space. Working in a stripped-down palette of just three shades, which he illuminates with a brilliant white, he uses light and shadow to depict wilted plants, faded draperies and discarded objects. Further developing his repertoire of vanitas-like still lifes, he engages in a fruitful dialogue with the collection of the Musée du Cristal Saint-Louis: through their refinement and fragility, the museum’s pieces subtly complement Noel Varoqui’s art-historical motifs, which embody the fleeting and illusory nature of things to offer a reflection of our own condition.