Author Archives: Dorothée Perret

SYLVIE AUVRAY — LES CAMBUSES

I say Accolay. Located in Vermenton on RN6, the roadside store was also a gas station with a painted and diagonal concrete design. The display units would fold back, securely storing the ceramics. The production was carried out in the village of Accolay, a few minutes away. It was rich and multi-style, ranging from Africanist inspirations or naïve art à la Peynet to loosely geometric compositions. The surface treatment would use chamotte (grog clay), or have a rugged matte blue finish, like the famous “Gauloise” style vases… This production is fascinating in that the blend of styles, various borrowings, and clever lack of culture, gives it post-modern value and positioning.

I say Le Vaucour. I don’t know much about this type of Vallauris pottery. I’m solely interested in it for a type of piece, which through an unspeakable shortcut managed to sneak its way into the local secular culinary pottery, with its numerous Suprematist spatial compositions. A repulsively speckled sur-face adorned with diagonal red and black surfaces. Ashtrays, cups, jugs… 

I don’t need to say more than propose these two paths to situate Sylvie Auvray’s work in the millenary litany of glazed fired clay that molds human civilization into a single inexorable model of survival. After that, history made things more complex and produced various narratives. But this is outside our purview.Franck Gautherot, “Wood Oven, Pizzeria, & Majolica, ” in Sylvie Auvray, Les Cambuses, 2019).


Sylvie has admitted to me that she decided to create brooms after looking out the window of a small shop in the desert, where she thought she’d caught a glimpse of a garage (for manufacture and repair) for witches’ brooms. The broom being also, of course, the preferred attribute of witches, whose demonization led to the persecution of several thousands of women from the Middle Ages onwards. And if the alleged witches were so disturbing, it is perhaps primarily because they appeared to be free and liberated women, since the witch might be the woman who escaped her husband’s clutches up the chimney, with her broom, to be ravished by the sky literally. And this is how the witch became the great feminist-identified figure, with her forbidden and scandalous sex toy, just like the bicycle seat later on, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, which was criticized for its masturbatory potential and therefore seen as detrimental to public health and morals.Anne Dressen, “Kurious Kat,” in Sylvie Auvray, Les Cambuses, 2019.

Sylvie’s sculptures are always about to do something, though you can never really tell what. They seem impatient and static at the same time. Like dogs or cute things, they will have you coo in an indecent way, making sounds that reduce language to onomatopoeia. When you look at them, you distort yourself, becoming a caricature of yourself, a comic book character. They itch, like “the brick,” in George Herriman’s comic, Krazy Kat. In one of the sketches, all we see is the brick, just lying there, but already a tension exists in anticipation of the next panel. Inevitably, it will move from the hands of the mouse to the head of the cat.  — Sarah Holveck, “Slapstick,” in Sylvie Auvray, Les Cambuses, 2019.

SYLVIE AUVRAY—LES CAMBUSES

Through October 19.

Galerie Laurent Godin

36 bis, rue Eugène Oudiné, 13th, Paris.

Excerpts from the monograph SYLVIE AUVRAY—LES CAMBUSES, 2019, Is-Land Édition.

SYLVIE AUVRAY BOOK SIGNING

Tuesday, October 1, from 6 pm to 8 pm.

Ofr Librairie

20 Rue Dupetit-Thouars, 3rd, Paris.

Sylvie Auvray, Les Cambuses, Galerie Laurent Godin, 2019. Artwork images courtesy and © the artist and Galerie Laurent Godin. Book cover image courtesy and © the artist and Is-Land Édition.

ANDERS EDSTRÖM: SPREADS

Twenty years ago I got to know Anders Edström when he started taking pictures for a magazine I worked for, and still do, called Purple. He’d been taking pictures for Martin Margiela, Purple’s fashion hero. His pictures made me think he had a preternatural sense for photography, for which light is its primary medium. And while his subjects were the phenomenal world, his photographs were never flashy, graphic, geometric, sexy, or shocking. Yet he was always able to capture the essence or singularity of things in themselves.

Immanuel Kant called everything in the visible world phenomena. He called the invisible matter that holds the world together the noumenon. He had no idea what that was. Scientists in the coming century would revive the Greek thinker Democritus’s term atom to describe the building blocks of phenomena. Later they speculated on the existence of Dark Matter, which is as mysterious as Kant’s noumenon and supposedly occupies the majority of the universe.

Looking at Anders’ pictures all these years I’ve often felt he focused as much on the atmosphere of light as the phenomena caught in his lens. The best photographers do that. But most of life is a quest for some kind of foreground position, which is most often what is photographed. Ander’s always seemed to look a bit further or maybe a bit behind, letting the backgrounds come to the fore as he searched for the quiddity, the very thingness of the material world, which, as Einstein said, is composed of light and energy.

Two days before I wrote this Anders told me he set these pictures up in a spiral pattern, based on how and when the pictures were taken, often in many exposures. I thought of Heraclitus saying, everything remains in flux, you can’t step into the same river twice, accept the logos because its immanent in the world and transcends the mind. It’s how one might think about these pictures.

Jeff Rian
Paris, 2019

Anders Edström: Spreads
Exhibition running from February 16–March 31, 2019 at Fullersta Gård, Huddinge.


COMME DES GARÇONS — WINTER 2020

One could question the location Rei Kawakubo chose this season to present her Comme des Garçons Fall/Winter 2019/2020 collection. She picked the hall of a neoclassical building on rue Cambon—though not the famous number 29! As always, Kawakubo intervenes with the space. Here she created a stage from the marble flooring, overlaid with strips of red-passé carpet. This small arena is enclosed by a few rows of benches and six long, lighted perches—the same machines that will later follow each model in an idiosyncratic ballet, giving the set a futuristic twist. As usual, the assembly is small, but one should know Kawakubo is not here to convince a large audience, but rather one that focuses.

Silence. The show is about to start. The lights turn off, the room is dark, and the ambiance feels quite enigmatic. Rei Kawakubo holds her crowd in a meditative state for one minute of silence. Strangely, this minute feels like eternity—long enough to understand the roles that gravity and magnitude play in this collection. Finally the show starts, with a discontinuous soundtrack from the back. One by one each model comes out to follow the patch of a square—making sure to pass by every corner—and meet at the center. Yet we feel a sense of disorder on stage, and in the air. 


The ambiance is austere: each silhouette is uniquely worked with fastidious details and crafted in a range of solid black materials that echo throughout the space like shadows of knights stepping out of the nightfall. This season, Kawakubo envelops her women in a voluminous armor, dark and rigid. The collection recalls medieval and ecclesiastical themes reinterpreted in a raw couture spirit. One purple garment questions signs of royalty. As always, Kawakubo dazzles with radical strength and bold engagement.

RICK OWENS — WINTER 2020

Of all the Parisian designers, RICK OWENS is certainly the one who best captures the essence of the city. For Fall/Winter 2019/2020, he dedicates his prêt-à-porter collection to Larry Legaspi. “Larry who? Never heard of him!” That’s okay, and this is why we love Rick, a great mentor who told us, “Larry was the man responsible for the silver and black space-sleaze looks of LaBelle and Kiss in the 1970s.”

Rick is a man who strongly relates to history. Sixteen years ago, when he moved from Los Angeles to Paris, he located his atelier and boutique—perversely—in the historic, highly refined neighborhood between place Bourbon and the Palais Royal. Charles James—America’s first couturier—had a great influence on Rick, who shamelessly admits he “knocked off [James’] cocoon coat, and reinterpreted it in raw-seamed shearling, nutria, and duvet.” (This season Rick wrote the preface to Charles James: The Couture Secrets of Shape, a contemporary reading of the twentieth-century couturier, edited by Homer Layne and Dorothea Mink.)

Rick is a great innovator who likes to reinvent himself by mixing past and futuristic imagination in present time. This fall and winter, his women will follow a graver, more solemn path. At Palais de Tokyo, the room is troubled, almost opaque, punctured by single points of light emitting from the high-ceiling. The atmosphere is raw like in a temple, keeping the audience alert. One by one, enigmatic figures pass in a slow march, one that welcomes questions and doubts: goddesses draped whole à la Fortuny; hybrid women in subtle yet vivid-colored leather overalls; half-naked girls wearing razor-cut, high-shouldered, raw silk jackets. The rhythm is slow but steady, and this procession gives a feeling of change, of a weird mutation. Thankfully the warm voice on the soundtrack—Michèle Lamy, Rick’s beautiful wife and the love of his life—restores confidence. This binding relationship shared publicly reinforces the trust we feel in Rick’s fashion.

Rick is a wizard who reminds us that with love and dedication, we can find beauty in a fragmented and sometimes unwelcoming world.

Photos © 2019 OwensCorp, France

OLIVIER THEYSKENS — SPRING 2019

Olivier Theyskens’ spring 2019 collection—though presented in a warehouse during daylight hours—continued to touch on the darker, somber side of nature.

It started with headpieces fashioned from sticks of wood painted black, and it carried on through the prints picturing Hans Bellmer’s famous Doll series. The collection is comprised mostly of dresses, where their fabrics and assemblages woke up some real gothic spirits. Lingerie, corset, lace, patent leather, and transparent knitted cashmere offered a view of the flesh, which was sometimes covered by a pair of long sleeves.

Theyskens here again confirms his personal take on fashion, and a secular soul to accompany it.