France, especially Paris, is infamous for it’s history regarding religion (or lack there of). After attending the preview of the exhibit DIEU(X) running from October 25-February 3 at the Petit Palais, I have realized the meaning of the phrase ‘melting pot’. The exhibit is a commentary on the contemporary life of religion in Paris, France, and further, throughout Europe.
Last night in attending the preview for the opening of the exhibit, if at first you were not impressed by the thoughtful installation of the exhibit, you would be by the works themselves. When walking in, the first thing you see is a long room, atmospherically lit by blue lights, and spotlights illuminating the many religious art objects. The show consisted of religious sculpture, artifacts, and objects collected throughout the world that have found their way to Paris. From Buddhist statues dating from 900 A.C.E., to a contemporary triptych by Keith Haring: Illustrating the diversity of religions in the ‘melting pot’ of Europe.
Baroque incense burners the size of basketballs, life sized Indian deity statues, and aboriginal masks are just a tasting of what the exhibit has to offer. The show continues into a room filled with different children’s books for religious studies (reminding me of the painful and boring memories of catechism class after school).
Ensuite, a large table filled with intricate architectural models displayed some-what unconventional modern places of worship from different religions. The Frank Ghery-esque Chapel in Spain was a stand out (à mon avis).
When leaving the dimly lit exhibit filled with ominous blue lighting, it takes a minute to adjust to the French-classical architecture, and the rococo style frescos that cover the ceiling of the Petit Palais – which ironically is not so ‘petit’. Because this was a preview, a considerate amount of cocktails where available – as expected at an exhibit opening in Paris – that, brings you back into the reality of Parisian life.
For more information on the exhibit, follow the hyperlink above, or visit the website: www.petitpalais.paris.fr
Article and photos by: Renée E. Caouette
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Rachel Lee Hovnanian, Leila Heller Gallery, September 2014
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