Right now, the Marais is a veritable minefield of explosive, exciting art shows. Luckily for the pressed gallery-goer, the rue Coutures St Gervais has two such shows, right next door to each other. At the Galerie Dominique Fiat is "Borderland," a collection of 11 photographs by the artist Tania Mouraud. I was immediately struck by the painterly qualities of the photographs, whose soft earth colors create calm, atmospheric landscapes. No recognizable form or horizon creates the landscape, but rather, the viewer's own nostalgic memory of nature. In this way, Mouraud's work is enormously successful in its suggestive qualities of nature and forms, as the sumptuous forms and delicate colors invite the viewer to pause and reflect. Her work recalls the photographic, abstract equivalent of George Inness, the 19th century American landscape painter who used his work as a profound search for divine life in nature. Mouraud's photographs work in much the same way, creating a meditative space for the viewer. The blurred perceptions remind us as viewers to slow down and pay less attention to the detail but rather to the enormity of form.
As I was soaking in the work, a petite woman wearing a perky hat was animatedly discussing the work. As it turned out, this was the Tania Mouraud! I was delighted to meet such a talented artist, and she was refreshingly approachable. She spoke about being of a generation for whom computers are challenging. She stated that growing up, every week she would spend a day at the Louvre and study the works of art. I think that perhaps it was this informal education that gave her such deep sensibility of form. After having enjoyed myself thoroughly getting lost in her work, I asked her what exactly was the subject she photographed. As it turns out, she photographed the rounds of hay that are machine-made, which then are covered in black plastic material. Mouraud stated, "I shoot when I see a painting. I'm just painting with contemporary tools." She believes that her work speaks to varying economic classes, in that the object-hay rounds-one that normally is taken for granted, is now beautiful. It is, as Mouraud stated, "un patrimoine commun."
In the back room, don't miss the video that Mouraud shot using her phone (hence the tiny display on the iPod.) 5-second clips of different still shots that repeatedly zoom in on an object create a visual record of Mouraud's journal. Mouraud is all about exploring the personal experience with these new tools: phone, ipod, Photoshop, and the digital realm. Lastly, also in the back room, in Diasec material is Martin Luther King's words, "I have a dream." The small panels are written in different languages, including Hebrew, Greek, Korean, Cyrillic, and Arabic, and vary in width, creating a graphic treat for the eyes.
--Kate C. Lemay
(*Images: Tania Mouraud, Borderland, courtesy of the Artist.)