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If you’re in Paris for fiac! this week, be sure to check out a truly special show of Walton Ford’s work at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, curated by Jérôme Neutres. On view is work from 1999 to today, including several new paintings that revolve around the French legend of the Beast of Gévaudan. In the 18th-century, the newspapers in France were overtaken by the story of a “new kind of beast” killing young women all along the countryside. Ford became fascinated by this story, along with other imaginary beasts of the human fantasy (like King Kong or Jaws) and the intellectual and cultural constructions of the time that give birth to such mythical animals.
Curator Neutres came up with the idea of hosting the exhibition at the unique location of the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, a hunting and nature museum in the Marais. The institution has shown contemporary art in the past, but Neutres proposed instead to rehang parts of the museum so that Ford’s work can exist alongside other hunting-related paintings, sculptures, taxidermy animals, and traps. “[Ford has] always been attracted to the potential violence of wildlife that we don’t see as one of the first generations of people living out of wildlife,” said Neutres. Employing 18th-century style of drawing that wildlife, his work is quite at home in the museum, and may leave viewers guessing, what’s what.
“He’s an extraordinary visual artists, an extraordinary painter,” said Neutres. “He’s unlike any other contemporary artist, which I like…I cannot compare to him to anyone. He has, as he’s said, found his own territory, like a wild beast. He’s a wild beast and quite a wild artist.”