Paris Roundup
              Rachel Valinsky
              Working in near-isolation in her Parisian bedroom-studio from the early 1970s until her death in 1981, the Alsatian artist Marcelle Cahn took an archive of old tourist postcards—the Eiffel Tower, a train station, a cathedral, a sleek white marble polar bear—and dappled them with shapes of varying sizes and colors. Displayed in the two-part group exhibition “Le plan libre – 1st chapter” at Jocelyn Wolff (the second part opens in early November), this modest intervention by an artist better known for her abstract paintings and collages feels anything but nostalgic: in isolation, one makes do with what one has. In contrast to those galleries presenting artworks that either respond to the pandemic directly or were made during lockdown, oblique but timely approaches such as this stand out. Seeking to invert the limitations of confinement, this exhibition takes as its premise the titular architectural concept of doing away with interior walls to create one large open space—a conceit which plays out in the show’s uncluttered layout. Like Cahn’s delicate compositions, Georges Koskas’s dotted and lined geometric abstractions from the 1950s evoke the utopian, modernist aspiration to devise a universal pictorial language. Guy Mees’s sly, colored, cutout paper scraps from his …
              Zbyněk Baladrán’s “Preliminary Report”
              Elena Sorokina
              10 Anarcho-communist minutes (all works, 2013) consists of a long list of general questions about collectivity—though it could be a rhetorical monologue or an address to an imaginary spectator. They are written on yellowish pages torn from a book dedicated to foundry work and sand molding. These pages are suspended in a curved line in the gallery space. When walking slowly around this text-sculpture and reading earnest questions—“Can everyone work?” and “What do you desire?”—one cannot ignore the fatigued images of metallurgists, furnaces, other complex machinery, and some (rather scary) chemical formulae on the pages. At a certain stage one begins to wonder: what is the heavy machine industry doing in a show on hysteria? An answer lies in Zbyněk Baladrán’s other sculptural texts. In fact, in order to read them the spectator-cum-reader has to twist and turn his neck, bend down, or go up on tippy toes, and, in some extreme cases, lie down on the floor to locate some particularly inaccessible parts. Driven by the thoroughness of a trained art historian, I seriously intended to do so, but was intercepted by the gallerist, who politely indicated the presence of the exhibition brochure. There weren’t many viewers in the space …

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