The collective exhibit Regards Croisés, lorsque les villes dialoguent or Crossing Visions, When Cities Dialogue is presented at the Town Hall of the 7th arrondissement of Paris. It portrays American and French cultural exchanges through the views of French and American cities.
Indeed cities are reflections of ancient or contemporary civilisations. When you ask a French person how they imagine an American city they will immediately think of the high skylines. The way we perceive a city depends of our education, culture and experiences. This exhibit’s aim is to bypass cultural stereotypes through the works of four artists : Mathieu Ponchel, Maxtwo, Melanie Sherwood and Stef Meyer.
The French artist Matthieu Ponchel was striken by the ambiguity of the New York myth of the Big Apple. City of light and darkness, with ‘diamonds on one side and garbage on the other’. His photos are large scale black and white, camera like shots of the cities. His collective piece called Where does a city go ? done in collaboration with Annabelle Simonetti gives a scary vision of the Big Apple’s futur ! www.matthieuponchel.com
Melanie Sherwood work is in total contrast with Ponchel. Sherwood is from Texas, she studied web and video design before pursuing a career in documentary editing in a local TV channel. For the last ten years she has taught photography at Austin High School. She had in mind Gershwin’s film an American In Paris when she visited the city in 2006, her shots are hence stereotyped views of a romantic and utopian city.
I went to see this exhibit because I am a true admirer of Maxtwo’s work. Born in 1983 in France, he discovered graffiti in his teens. Later he learned to combine abstract art and graffiti, on canvases. He currently uses pens, brushes, spray paints, gold leafs, vinyl records and wood panels. One can actually watch him in action videos* in the blog section in his site « www.Maxtwo.fr ». He exposed in Montreal, Austria and New York in Brooklyn in June 2011 and at the CATM Gallery in September.
MaxTwo forces admiration in that his work succeeds in the rare task of mixing what appears to be unlikely styles such as street art, painting and calligraphy. He creates unique and harmonious landscapes with multiple layers, what he calls « stolen moment of everyday life ». The introduction of words either under the form of graffiti or calligraphy are « clues » to his unique sensiblity.
Stef Meyer, is a young Franco-American artist, she studies at the National School of Arts of Paris-Cergy. Her installation is at the image of her multiple interests for cinema, photography and fine arts. A somewhat Le Corbusier architecture looking 3D structure shelters photographies of parisian streets. The artist simultaneously treats the strong oppositions between Paris and Chicago, going from one view point to the other. Leading impressionist vertigos flow from one shape into a feeling or a perception.
The theme of this mall exhibit Regards Croisés is vast and questions several points : what characterizes these two cities? Is our vision stereotyped or realist? What is our relation to the urban space on an architectural, or a daily based personal level? And what is the place of Man in these greatly urban spaces?
Article by Vanessa Thill