Thursday, November 11, 2010

Hungarian Artist- Roommates, Chez Serge & Murakami at Versailles

For the past month, I've been lucky enough to share a gorgeous apartment in the 7th arrondissement on Boulevard Saint-Germain and Rue du Bac (belonging to an American businessman-turned-artist, Giorgio, whose lovely paintings, photographs and sketches adorn every wall) with Ariel, a friend from childhood also studying here in Paris at La Sorbonne, and a Hungarian painter/photographer, Lili Kisteleki. I thought I'd take a moment to appreciate the randomness of our colocation and also the beauty and depth of her artwork (not to mention her incredible cooking skills!!). Lili had two friends, also Hungarian artists, staying with us a few weeks, Babos Bertalan Szili and Lena Kùt. Szili creates incredibly detailed, colorful drawings and paintings, mainly of faces juxtaposed with other objects, while Lena's specialty is performance art (at their exhibition at Place des Vosges, which we attended a few weeks back, she unveiled a video piece of herself being splashed repeatedly with different colors of paint, in slow motion, against a bleak desert landscape). A few of Lili's pieces:

this piece, which is actually gigantic in real life, is ironically leaned against the wall across from me as I type:

And two pieces that Lili and Szili collaborated on, which currently live in the apartment as well:

It's been great getting to know Lili, Szili and Lena, and being in such close proximity with their artwork. Check out Szili's work on his website:

I've also discovered that I'm living right around the corner from late Parisian musical genius Serge Gainsbourg's old house on the Rue de Verneuil. (Side note: literally every time I wear my lace-up patent leather Repetto jazz shoes, at least one French boy compliments me on them, then reminds me that Serge used to wear them). Much like Oscar Wilde's grave, the house is covered in graffiti of the most loving kind-- which changes daily-- sketches of Serge and Jane Birkin, lipstick marks, song lyrics, lovers' initials.

Lastly, yesterday I paid a visit to the Château de Versailles with a few friends to see the Takashi Murakami installation. I've always had slightly mixed feelings about Murakami's work-- his colorful plastic animé sculptures hinge on kitsch and, in my opinion, don't offer a great deal of originality-- but it was interesting to see such utterly contemporary works set against the sweeping bay windows, marble statues, ancient ceiling tableaus, chandeliers and gold filigree of the Galerie des Glaces. You can see what I mean in the following pictures:

though most of the pieces in the exhibit explored the bounds of irony and juxtaposition, this piece worked a little better in my opinion, as Murakami completely outfitted the entire room in his (slightly creepy) grinning-rainbow-flower motif (notice the carpet?)

closeup on the lantern from the last shot

Suffice it to say that even though the weather has been absolutely horrendous for the past two weeks (nonstop pouring rain and wind), having all of this incredible art at my fingertips has lessened that concern!

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