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Over the summer, a new space to the public, La Fondation GGL Helenis in Montpellier in the south of France. After being acquired by investors in 2017, the former Richer de Belleval Hotel was restored to highlight its 17th century qualities by Philippe Prost’s architecture workshop and further renovated to accommodate the contemporary art it now houses. The new art hub serves as a site for contemporary creation and foraging dialogue between visual art and heritage.
Numa Hambursin, art critic and curator specializing in contemporary work, hand-picked artists to engage with the foundation. He was heavily inspired by each artist’s ability to generate modern connections in historic symbols, encapsulating the mission behind La Fondation GGL.
Referencing his background in pop art, American artist Jim Dine decorates the entrance hall. Filled with neoclassical columns, the entrance hall explodes with Dine’s mosaic fresco, a seemingly never-ending painting of multi-colored hearts. Nestled under the staircase lies a vision from Marlène Mocquet, mostly disembodied eyes that seem to belong to childlike beings, staring in disbelief at a harvest of fruit suspended in a swarm of birds. In what was once a wedding hall, the Italian-style salon bursts with work from Jan Fabre, who assembles iridescent beetle elytra to form a fantastic relief depicting two giant birds and a snake.
Abdelkader Benchamma, in collaboration with Hambursin, has made a neutral-colored fresco, referencing natural geography with the idea that a shifting environment, one with infinite tiny catastrophes reflects human relationships, the choice in stark color only emphasizing the graphic contrasts. Finally, French-Argentinian painter Olympe Racana-Weiler fills the boudoir on the second floor with an ultra-colorful painting that, despite being non-subjective, seems to represent the emotional catharsis of past lives the hotel has lived.