Slick has come a long way in six years. A gradual déménagement from the 19th arrondissement to the fashionable Marais district represents the shift in focus of this annual Paris-based art fair: Slick’s street art roots are barely visible aside from the urban aesthetic of new host space Le Garage. Now it’s about providing a good slice of the international contemporary art scene, although Paris does dominate this year. It’s become the exhibition for exhibitions, a sort of trade fair but with more air kisses. Around 40 galleries, including both newcomers and established names, have their chance to show a selection of pieces or promote one artist in particular.
Tuesday afternoon was the opening reception for the Press. After waving my badge, I nearly walked straight into the first display, and one that I would later choose as a favourite.
“Sentimental Negotiation” is a multi-media installation by Joël Andrianomearisoa composed of 1600 black pocket mirrors mounted on a wall alongside one another (dimensions 4.65m X 2.21m). The fragmented reflexions give the viewer a glimpse into a surreal alternate reality, as well as a distorted image of oneself. The hundreds of mirrors, open at different angles, create an unexpected texture, an almost organic textile. My instinctive impulse was to run my hand over the mirrors, snapping them shut like a game of Guess Who, but the ever-watchful security guards made me think again.
Continuing along the ground floor, Giuseppe Penone’s work (Bernard Chauveau Editeur / Le Neant Editeur) came as a lovely surprise. Two of his seven drawings from the “Transcription musicale de la structure des arbres” collection were displayed, giving an insight into the ideas behind the Arte Povera group. Here were two discreet and beautifully fragile pieces that invite closer examination in a non-invasive way. Delicate lines map out leaf veins in a poetic narrative.
The opposite of discreet, but also beautiful, German artist Simon Schubert (Gallery Van der Grinten) has constructed a group of life-sized children crouching in a circle, each covered entirely in feathers. Schubert, known predominantly for his paper artwork as well as his overall love of texture, also offers us a three-dimensional image created with thousands of plastic fibres, each one with its own combination of black dots creating the overall picture of a house. While entertaining to look at, I actually found this piece more interesting up close, with my face almost touching the fibres, to see the intricate work on each filament, a musical Morse code.
Last on my stand-outs list is urban photographer Quentin Veilleux. Up the wide ramp to the second floor (Le Garage may actually have been a garage in its previous life, it seems) and towards the far right of the space, are two of his pieces from the collection “Persona” (2011), showing for the first time at the Slick Art Fair. Intense and surprising, his photographs are beautiful, showing a real talent and imagination from this relatively young artist.
Of course there were countless other pieces that I enjoyed, but these four artists particularly caught my eye. Despite the variety of media, style and subjects, there seemed to be an overall question about identity, an exploration into expression that reappeared again and again. While a more international selection of galleries would have been interesting, the artists displayed come from all over the world, so there was no lack of cultural insight. The fair seems to be going from strength to strength, finding its footsteps and establishing itself as one of the art fairs for contemporary arts.