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Pokémon invade the Chantal Crousel Gallery

 

Artist Reena Spaulings is at the Chantal Crousel Gallery showing her paintings of Pokémon… and Michel Houellebecq. Just brilliant !

Reena Spaulings, Gloom (2016). Oil painting on Dibond. 100 x 130 cm.

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris

Photo Florian Kleinefenn

 

At the Chantal Crousel Gallery, there’s no need for an iPhone or augmented reality to go Pokémon hunting: the Nintendo creatures are painted and hanging on the walls. These oils on Dibond (aluminium and polyethylene) are by Reena Spaulings. A fictional character conceived by the artistic collective Bernadette Corporation, Reena Spaulings signs tangible works. She even gave her name to a New York gallery in 2004 (Reena Spaulings Fine Arts). She embodies above all an era where the virtual and the fictional (and its characters) often count more than reality. So it’s no surprise the artist is interested in her fellow imaginary beings, Pokémon, the creatures that pop up on streets all over the world.

 

 

What if artists picked up their subjects depending on Twitter “trend topics” ?

Reena Spaulings, Wigglystuff (2016). Oil painting on Dibond. 100 x 130 cm.

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris

Photo Florian Kleinefenn

Reena Spaulings, Houellebecq #5 (2016). Oil painting on Dibond. 100 x 81 cm.

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris

Photo Florian Kleinefenn

 

Reena Spaulings’ exhibition could be perceived as nothing more than a cynical surfing on the summer buzz generated by Pokémon Go, if it wasn’t for the various portraits of Michel Houellebecq (the writer was honoured at the Palais de Tokyo this summer). But the artist isn’t just interested in the visual reproductions of summer hits, even if the rubbings and childlike scrawls – similar to certain works by Cy Twombly – in Crayola-like colours are formally very successful. She also raises the fascinating question of the future of art practices: what if artists start to choose their subject matter according to what’s trending on Twitter?

 

 

“Weedle, Grodoudou, Gloom and Michel Houellebecq are our modern Perseus and Hercules, our mythical contemporary characters.”

Reena Spaulings, Doduo (2016). Oil painting on Dibond. 100 x 81 cm.

Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris

Photo Florian Kleinefenn

Viw from the exhibition, Reena Spaulings, Pont du Carrousel

Photo Florian Kleinefenn. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris

 

Reena Spaulings succeeds in turning cute little Nintendo creatures and the nonchalant celebrity of Michel Houellebecq into the monsters of children’s nightmares. Even better: she portraits them as characters in a contemporary mythical bestiary. Weedle, Wigglytuff, Gloom and Michel Houellebecq are the modern day equivalents of Perseus and Hercules. Accordingly she’s has also reproduced figures of antiquity through the constellations. On the opening night of the show on September 3rd in Paris, the artist hung three canvases on Dibond representing the map of the sky from the ceiling of the gallery. Mythical constellations of the past (Aquila, Ursa Major, Draco…) in the same space as the new stars of our era… 

 

The entire exhibition is conceived around the very contemporary idea of geo-location, namely that of the Chantal Crousel Gallery. The painted Pokémon are those that can actually be geo-located near the art space. And even Michel Houellebecq has been spotted round the corner in a neighbouring street… almost like a sort of rare Pokémon. 

 

Pont du Carrousel by Reena Spaulings, until 8th October at the Chantal Crousel Gallery, 10, rue Charlot, Paris IIIe, www.crousel.com

 

By Thibaut Wychowanok

Interview with Takashi Murakami, a pop icon
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Interview with Takashi Murakami, a pop icon

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