Metamorphosis. Art in Europe Now presents the diversity of voices and vitality of exchanges animating the vast European artistic scene.
Over the course of a year, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain team set out to meet with young artists from all over Europe, beyond the borders of the European Union. This ambitious research project brought the team to 29 countries, discovering over 200 artists chosen from a preliminary selection of nearly 1,000 artists. Launched without any preconceived ideas or guiding principles, this search culminated in a deliberately restricted selection of 21 artists from 16 countries, who use painting, sculpture, fashion, design or film as their modes of expression. Born between 1980 and 1994, they came of age after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and together demonstrate the extraordinary dynamism of the continent’s artistic scene. Most of them have studied or live in a country other than where they were born, showing the very real mobility that exists within the European cultural space. For the vast majority, this is their first exhibition in an international institution.
The title of the exhibition was inspired by the various metamorphoses underlying the work of these artists. Their frequently fragmented aesthetics reveal an interest in hybridization, collage, and archaeology. Drawing on legacies, folkloric traditions, and collective memory, they have adopted techniques such as casting, ceramics, and embroidery. Inspired by the past, their works display keen attention to issues of the present. At the center of their work processes are major contemporary preoccupations, metamorphosed: the preservation and recycling of materials, new takes on historical and cultural heritage, and the reexamination of identity constructions. The resulting works, lyrical, refined, or savage, reveal a strong desire to hybridize identities, cultures, and forms of expression. With poetry, fantasy, and humor, this new generation of artists is helping create the face of today’s and tomorrow’s Europe.
While highlighting the correspondences between the artists, Metamorphosis seeks to showcase each artist in their singularity. For example, the exhibition places large compositions by British painter Georges Rouy, portraits of figures with an ambiguous identity, opposite those of French-based Syrian-born artist Miryam Haddad. The latter’s works are saturated with color to the extent that we are unsure as to whether these express joy or tragedy. Near Haddad’s work is the intimate and refined installation of the Czech artist Klára Hosnedlová, the powerful and enigmatic work of German artist Raphaela Vogel, and the subtle and ironic film of Portuguese director Gabriel Abrantes. Although at times the exhibition presents artists with similar approaches, these result in unique forms, as is the case with the Italian design duo Formafantasma and Dutch artist Tenant of Culture, both of whom transform abandoned and/or obsolete consumer products into art objects. While the former use electronic waste to create design objects with an intentionally minimalist aesthetic, the latter assembles second-hand garments to create clothes that say something about our society.
The exhibition design is the work of French designer Benjamin Graindorge, and it was conceived in close collaboration with the artists. Eleven artists chose to produce new works for the exhibition, including Greek painter Alexandros Vasmoulakis, Polish sculptor Piotr Łakomy, British painter Charlie Billingham and Greek designer Kostas Lambridis.
Conceived in collaboration with the artists, a program of events including the Nomadic Nights, a Night of Uncertainty and a series of children’s’ workshops will accompany the exhibition. Every Thursday, the Nomadic Nights event will take participants on a tour of Europe via the performing arts, ranging from “virtual dance” to contemporary flamenco from rap music to video games, and revealing the young generation’s ability to combine tradition and modernity. The projects presented, performed by artists from countries as diverse as Armenia, Hungary, Ireland, or Lithuania, demonstrate a shared desire to transcend borders, meet the other and create as one.
Curator: Thomas Delamarre assisted by Sidney Gérard
Associate curator: Leanne Sacramone assisted by Sonia Digianantonio
Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain
261, Boulevard Raspail
75014 Paris, France