Contemporary art is, in many ways, akin to erotic urination: an interesting fetish to explore in the privacy of one’s own home, but somewhat embarrassing to witness, unawares and unprepared, on the Queen’s highway. More academically put, we feel strongly about not forcing Art, and especially conceptual art, on the passer-by, which invites neither comprehension nor appreciation, but rather contributes to making contemporary works appear obtuse and pretentious.
The Mairie de Paris has been very vocal over the past few years about its decision to educate the Average Parisian™, whether he likes it or not. The latest in a long series of public commissions will, therefore, not come as any surprise: it’s conceptual, but just enough to gain approval from a municipal council without unduly taxing their intellect, and it’s perfectly ugly, but then it need be, or passers-by would never notice the work, negating the purpose in the first place. It is also temporary, having apparently only been authorised for five years, which may indicate either that someone is humouring the mayor until he leaves office or, quite possibly, is already contemplating big contracts for the renewal, maintenance and upkeep of the work on a regular basis. (We pray for the former.)
In case you were wondering, the photo on the left is what it is: bright paint applied to some (but not all) of the faces of a modern building in the formerly textile-oriented area of Le Sentier. If you saw, in the criss-crossing lines that are « almost all bright », an homage to the area’s history in the cloth and fashion trades, then congratulations, you’ve got it. This work is the brainchild of Claire Maugeais, a recognised contemporary artist who lives in Paris and teaches fine arts in Nantes, France. We recommend a quick tour of her portfolio, to get a better sense of what she does. In all fairness, while we are not too enthused by her « architectural garment », one cannot judge an artist from a single work, especially when said work has gone through a lengthy public approval process. We will, therefore, reserve judgement on the rest and leave it to you to let us know what you think.