Paris was the convivial mecca of the world of photography last week, as the 25th edition of the flagship fair Paris Photo (November 10-13) brought together 183 international exhibitors in the Grand Palais Éphémère. Meanwhile, in a townhouse near the Louvre, the satellite fair Approche had 16 experimental solo shows.
We toured the two fairs to find the most innovative and exciting works that exemplify how contemporary artists are tirelessly reinterpreting photographic techniques, whether it be through collapsing divisions between the analogue and the digital, or by appropriating found images in idiosyncratic ways.
Jorge Alberto Cadi (b. 1963)
Who: Cuban artist Jorge Alberto Cadi makes photomontages and sculptures with vintage photographs that he finds mostly in junk shops. For more than two decades, he has been collecting discarded suitcases, boxes, photographs and newspaper clippings, pulling out the bits that spark his interest. Working intuitively at his desk, surrounded by bric-a-brac, Cadi creates hybridized, collaged works that are visually striking and psychologically unsettling.
Like his brother, Cadi was diagnosed with schizophrenia; although there is no direct allusion to his mental illness in his works, they reference fragmentation, self-derision and social critique. For his photomontages, he defaces figures and glues on halves of other people’s heads as well as sewing on stitches and omnipresent crosses. For his suitcase pieces, he decorates the interiors with an accumulation of photomontage, newspaper clippings, writing, floppy disks and other papaphernalia that evoke the haphazardness of an inner life.
Based in: Havana
Showing at: Christian Berst Art Brut, Paris
Prices: €2,800–€15,000 ($2,900-$15,500)
Why You Should Pay Attention: Christian Berst Art Brut’s solo presentation of Cadi’s work, beautifully displayed across pale pink walls, was the talk of Paris Photo. The gallery sold no fewer than 24 of his works at the fair. Cadi had an exhibition at the gallery in 2019.
Fun Fact: Cadi has been nicknamed “El Buzo,” meaning the diver, by inhabitants of Havana because he plunges, indefatigably, into the city’s streets seeking out junk and discarded objects.
Up Next: Cadi’s work features in the exhibition “Photo | Brut BXL,” organized by the Centre d’Art Brut et Contemporain, in collaboration with French collector Bruno Decharme, at Centrale in Brussels, November 24–March 19, 2023.
Ira Lombardía (b. 1977)
Who: Ira Lombardía is a Spanish conceptual artist working across photography, video, graphic design and sculpture who explores postmodern paradigms. She also teaches at the College of Visual and Performing Arts faculty at Syracuse University.
Her series, “Speechless (The perception of the Visual World),” strikes a relationship between slides once used in a lecture, which Lombardía found at the Warburg Institute in London, and 1970s performance art. The audible content of the lecture has been lost, leaving only the imagery of the performance pieces.
Each image features a photograph of Lombardía’s hand holding a slide, which is superposed onto a blurry black-and-white image of a performance. If one looks closely, the link between the slides and the images becomes apparent. A slide of a bear comically captioned “And why do think that you should get a raise?” is paired with an image of a woman cleaning the floor in a museum, which happens to be the American feminist artist Mierle Ukeles’ performance, Washing/Tracks/Maintenance (1973).
Based in: Syracuse, New York
Showing at: Galería Alarcón Criado, Seville
Prices: €1,500–€7,800 ($1,550–$8,000). The work featured, from an edition of three with two AP, is €2,600 ($2,700). An artist’s proof of the entire series “Speechless (The perception of the Visual World)” is €30,000 ($31,000).
Why You Should Pay Attention: Lombardía had a solo show, “Void,” last year at the Savannah College Of Art and Design Museum of Art. Galería Alarcón Criado sold several of her works at Paris Photo.
Fun Fact: Lombardía’s “Jet Lag” series, presented last year at Paris Photo, combined overlapping black-and-white images of classical art with flesh and blue-toned hands reaching out to touch them. Lombardía created an app enabling viewers to substitute the blue shapes with images on their phone, in a bridging of the classical and the digital.
Up Next: Galería Alarcón Criado will have a solo show of Lombardía’s work next year. Pieces from her new research project relating to women labor will be shown at ARCO Madrid in 2023.
Sebastian Riemer (b. 1982)
Who: Sebastian Riemer studied in Thomas Ruff’s master class at Düsseldorf’s renowned Kunstakademie. Riemer has a penchant for appropriating discarded imagery, such as slides whose purpose has been rendered obsolete, and turning them into artworks through digital techniques. Riemer mostly finds the slides on eBay, flea markets and antique shops, as well as receiving them from people. However, he has strict selection criteria. “I only pick out one from a thousand,” Riemer says. “All the details have to be perfect.”
What grabs Riemer’s attention is the pictorial qualities, “such as portrait-format images that have been put into a landscape-format frame,” as well as eye-catching details. He observes the dust that has gathered on the slide, the slapdash arrangement of the sticker captions, and even spelling mistakes—such as “armshair” (the original s was typed over with a c) in the caption of Roy Lichtenstein’s Woman in Armchair.
“It’s like I’m retrieving a composition that was never intended to be an artwork and that was only made for art history teaching,” Riemer explains. “For me, the slides are like photographic sculptures with the illusion of texture.”
Based in: Düsseldorf
Showing at: Setareh, Düsseldorf
Prices: €21,000 ($22,000), edition of three
Why You Should Pay Attention: The work featured sold out during the J. P. Morgan preview, held the evening before the VIP opening. J.P. Morgan acquired a piece for its collection. The other two pieces were bought by private collectors. Setareh also sold several other works by Riemer at Paris Photo.
Riemer’s work was exhibited in the group show “Give and Take” at the Hamburger Kunsthalle earlier this year, presented alongside pieces by Ruff and Louise Lawler. His work has also been shown at Galerie Dix9 in Paris, the Israel Museum and Germany’s Münchner Stadtmuseum.
Fun Fact: When Riemer was a student, he operated a traditional slide projector during art history lectures.
Up Next: Setareh is presenting other works by Riemer at Art Cologne this week, November 16–20.
Baptiste Rabichon (b. 1987)
Who: French artist Baptiste Rabichon brings together ancestral methods of image-making and today’s digital tools to create artworks that are innovative and enigmatic. He studied at Paris’ art school, École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, and Le Fresnoy in Tourcoing, in northern France.
His series “Blue Screen of Death” revisits the camera-less technique of photograms—pioneered by Man Ray and László Moholy-Nagy—that are made by placing objects on a photo-sensitive surface. Framed under double sheets of glass, several works feature Rabichon’s hand holding a mobile phone. Rabichon says that they capture “a strange premonition of the progressive invasion of our lives by screens.” The gallery as also showing ink jet prints from the artist’s “Chirales” series.
Based in: Paris
Showing at: Galerie Binome, Approche
Prices: €1,500–€7,000 ($1,550–$7,200)
Why You Should Pay Attention: Binome sold several works in various sizes by Rabichon at Approche. The artist has had solo shows at Reuter Bausch Gallery in Luxembourg, Tap Seac Gallery in Macau, CACN in Nîmes, the Rencontres d’Arles and China’s Lianzhou Museum of Photography, among other venues.
Fun Fact: A few years ago, Rabichon made a still-life project about luggage control at Paris’s Orly airport using a baggage scanning machine. Then in 2020, he made a huge photographic installation, “Parisian Drawings,”shown alongside an airport conveyor belt.
Up Next: Rabichon has a solo show, “Vues d’artiste,” at Paris-B until December 17, which presents his new pictorial photogram series of an imaginary cosmos.
Theis Wendt (b. 1981)
Who: Theis Wendt is a Danish multimedia artist who has been working across photography and sculpture since getting his MFA from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. His Rift triptych of works presented at Galerie Paris-B belong to an ongoing series started in 2013, which is about merging the virtual and real world, collapsing distinctions between them, and questioning the notion of authenticity. To make the images, Wendt first photographed teak panels that he used as “wallpaper for digital extrusion,” he said. Then, harnessing software on his computer, he digitally constructed these conceptual works evoking enclosed, three-dimensional spaces. The frames are made from the same textured teak wood that appears in the images themselves, the motif of the edges transcending beyond the frame.
Based in: Copenhagen
Showing at: Galerie Paris-B, Paris
Prices: €7,000 ($7,200)
Why You Should Pay Attention: Galerie Paris-B sold eight of Wendt’s works at Paris Photo.
Fun Fact: In 2020, Wendt received a commission to make two sculptures for the new administration building of BaneDanmark, the Danish company responsible for the maintenance and traffic control of Denmark’s state railway. His pillar-like pieces are made from solid, pigmented resin embedded with granite shards. Wendt jokingly recalls how he used refrigerated wine coolers to keep the resin “fresh and tasty” in the summer heat during the production process.
Up Next: The Ravestijn Gallery from Amsterdam will be presenting his work at PAN Amsterdam, an art and antiques fair taking place from November 20–27.
Nathalie Boutté (b. 1967)
Who: French artist Nathalie Boutté makes captivating three-dimensional unique works at the intersection of photography, collage and sculpture. She revisits images by meticulously cutting Japanese paper printed with Indian ink into thousands of small, thin strips that serve to conjure a reinterpretation of the original photograph. “I use 10 shades of different grays,” said Boutté about the nuanced typography of false text printed onto the paper strips to create the black-and-white works.
Having previously worked with found imagery, she used her own photographs as the starting point for her new series, begun during the Covid-19 pandemic. Boutté isolated part of the original image and reworked it to striking effect. The work here features her niece, who was gazing fondly at her baby in the original photograph. Boutté’s new work retains the blissful expression but the reason for the joyous smile is held at bay.
Based in: Montreuil, near Paris
Showing at: Magnin-A, Paris
Prices: €14,000 ($14,500), unique works
Why You Should Pay Attention: Boutté’s work featured alongside Lorna Simpson’s in the group exhibition, “Us Them We: Race, Ethnicity, Identity” at the Worcester Art Museum in Massachusetts earlier this year. The artist is also represented by Yossi Milo in New York. Magnin-A sold several of her pieces during Paris Photo’s preview days.
Fun Fact: Magnin-A became interested in Boutté’s work after she appropriated photographs by acclaimed Malian photographer Malick Sidibé. Two years ago, the gallery exhibited her previous series, “Way Down South,” for which she reinterpreted portraits of African Americans from the archive of Rufus W. Holsinger, a photographer that settled in Virginia in 1880.
Up Next: Boutté’s work is included in the exhibition “Fascination Paper” at Gustav-Lübcke-Museum Hamm in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, running through January 15, 2023.
Léonard Beaulieu Bourgois (b. 1983)
Who: Léonard Beaulieu Bourgois is a primarily self-taught artist who also took photography lessons at the Gobelins school for creative industries in Paris. His work is formally inspired by Italian classical painting and artists such as Caravaggio. The starting point of his new series, “Les corps lucides,” was looking at his old Polaroids of young transgender people and dancers, most of whom he met on the street. Bourgois reworked the palette of colors and softened the textures to create stunning new pieces that are pictorial and poetic.
Based in: Paris
Showing at: Galerie Anne-Sarah Bénichou, Paris
Prices: €2,900–€4,200 ($3,000–$4,300), edition of three
Why You Should Pay Attention: Bourgois’ work is in the Collection Lambert and that of the fashion designer and arts patron, Agnès B. It was also included in the “Jeune Création” group show on young talents at Thaddaeus Ropac in Pantin, in 2020. Galerie Anne-Sarah Bénichou sold around five of his works in the first few days of Paris Photo.
Fun Fact: In 2011, Bourgois sent his work to Agnès B, whose Galerie du Jour used to participate in Paris Photo. “She replied one month later and showed my work at the fair that same year,” he recalled.
Up Next: Galerie Anne-Sarah Bénichou is planning a forthcoming exhibition on his work.