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The majestic Winston Churchill avenue welcomed visitors with a series of imposing in-situ works, including Seung-taek Lee’s reenactment of Sound of Wind, initially made in the late ‘70s. The North Korean artist used red, blue, and silver vinyl strips as sculptural mediums responding to breezes, allowing the spectator both to visualize and to hear the wind. Other playful pieces included Wang Wei’s Natural History 4 (square), which transformed the sidewalk into a mosaic tile platform, and Hungarian artist, Yona Friedman’s Projet pour un Musée sans Bâtiments (project for a museum without buildings), a colorful hula hoop installation.
Inside the Grand Palais were few colossal pieces, like Takashi Murakami’s grand golden sculpture Flame of Desire standing in the main entrance at Perrotin.
Overall the fair’s solo presentations were a great pull this year, especially that of 303 Gallery, which was empty save for Jeppe Hein’s hanging balloons (we felt the urge to unhook at least one of them from the ceiling upon passing). Pace Gallery also succeeded in drawing in viewers with a sole artist: Raqib Shaw. Set against a matching wallpaper backdrop was a large bronze sculpture representing a cherry tree inhabited by creatures reminiscent of Notre Dames’ gargoyles. Inspired by Hindu mythology and Renaissance iconography, these animal-headed humans with large genitalia were engaged in abrasive activities that fascinated many fairgoers.
Less abrasive works were at Landau Fine Art, which showed beautiful paintings by Raoul Dufy and André Derain, along with works by Fernand Leger, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso, Le Corbusier, and Henry Moore. Neighboring galleries Van Der Weighe complemented these modernist inclinations with more contemporary works by Tom Wesselmann, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and Jean Michel Basquiat. While Nahmad Contemporary combined a series of table paintings by Jean Dubuffet with Richard Prince’s word play. Close by, Lehmann Maupin showed two pieces by 2016 Marcel Duchamp Prize and 2017 Joan Miro Prize laureate Kader Attia.
We enjoyed the politically engaged works by Rirkrit Tiravanija at Galerie Chantal Crousel, where a ping pong table inscribed with the phrase “Demain est la question” (tomorrow is the question) stood available to viewers wishing to play. Another work by the artist was a collage of newspapers clippings dedicated to the late French elections’ defeated candidate Marine Le Pen, on which is inscribed the phrase, “The odious perfume of truth,” in French. The work strongly evoked the fears that have animated French media the past year, but gently reminded that the country’s final choice was ultimately optimistic. The fact that this discreet collage faced Tracey Emin’s neon art Red, White and Fucking Blue at London’s White Cube Gallery was just the icing on the cake.