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Mendes Wood DM: what you need to know about the opening of one of Paris's hottest galleries

Numéro art

Paris is once again dreaming of becoming the art capital of the world, as international galleries step up their openings. One example is the highly respected and pioneering Mendes Wood DM, whose Parisian doors open this October 14 on the occasion of Paris + by Art Basel.

  • Jeremy Shaw, “Towards Universal Pattern Recognition (Darla Minor ‘signs‘ a song. MAY 24 1987)” (2023).

  • Leticia Ramos, “Linhas” (2018).

  • Luiz Roque & Erika Verzutti, “Contour” (2016).

Courtesy of the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, Brussels, Paris, New York.


The story begins with two philosophy of art students, Matthew Wood and Pedro Mendes, who met in Paris in 2004 and spent seven years there. As Wood explains: "We both liked Schopenhauer's idea that aesthetic contemplation could suspend existential anguish for a fleeting instant. It's a great theoretical framework for two friends to forge a lifelong partnership on. Many of our friends at the time were already artists. I remember Sonia Gomes, for instance. The first time she came to visit us in Paris, Pedro and I carried one of her sculptures around with us to show to galleries, and the Fondation Cartier even, in hopes of landing her an exhibition!"


Armed with this experience, Matthew Wood and Pedro Mendes returned to Brazil and decided to open a contemporary art gallery. The young duo soon met a third kindred spirit, Felipe Dmab, who ran an independent exhibition space next door to theirs. In 2010, they decided to team up and create a new space. And so Mendes Wood DM was born. The gallery quickly became a key player in Brazil, and from early on presented the work of burgeoning market stars like Lucas Arruda.

  • Mauro Restiffe, “Silhueta” (2021).

  • Marguerite Duras, “Les Mains négatives” (1979).

  • Paula Siebra, "Mãos acendendo um cachimbo / Duas mãos / Mãos descascando laranja” (2023).

Courtesy of the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, Brussels, Paris, New York.


Mendes explains: "All our artists subscribe to a multidisciplinary approach that modernizes the aesthetic canon of Brazilian art. Many of them were outsiders or are self-taught. They are passionate; they live for art." The gallery quickly gained international standing with the opening a luxurious new space in Brussels in 2017, followed by another gallery in New York in 2022. The same thing will happen this year in Paris. Felipe Dmab explains that the city has become more attractive, but isn’t sure they would have set up base there a few years ago. Carolyn Drake, one of the gallery's European founding members, adds: "In Paris, the general atmosphere seems much more welcoming than it used to be. This is impacting the capital's increasingly international image."


Each of the galleries was chosen as much for its specific location as for its host city, its location and its uniqueness. The new Parisian gallery is no exception to this rule. Nestled in a historic building on the Place des Vosges, the building was renovated by the NeM agency, the same architects responsible for the redesigned Bourse de Commerce, among other things. Spread over two floors that will mainly be dedicated to monographic exhibitions, this majestic space promises to become a new staple in Paris. As Felipe Dmab explains: "Our first gallery in Sao Paulo in 2010 had a garden, which quickly became a meeting place for artists, curators, collectors and friends. We have similar hopes for this new space, and that people will want to extend their visit and meet up with one another there. »

  • Adrián Balseca, “Glove (from the series “The Skin of Labour“) (2016).

  • Runo Lagomarsino, “America I use your name in vain” (2019).

  • Sophie Thun, “Ufer, 30.08.-18.09.2022, CW” (2022).

Courtesy of the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, Brussels, Paris, New York.


The inaugural exhibition, which was curated by Fernanda Brenner, curator of this year's Pernod Ricard Foundation Prize, is entitled Les Mains négatives (Negative Hands), which is a title borrowed from a 1979 short film by Marguerite Duras and will also be shown during the exhibition. The film comprises one long sequence shot in which the camera travels around Paris, accompanied by the writer's voice commenting on the mysterious painted handprints in the prehistoric caves of southern Europe. The exhibition will showcase some of Mendes Wood DM's top artists, like Lucas Arruda, Michael Dean, Sonia Gomes and Giangiacomo Rossetti, as well as artists from outside the gallery whose work incorporates a cinematic approach (Philipp Fleischmann, Jeremy Shaw, Karim Anouz, etc.). Carolyn Drake was enthusiastic in her hopes for this new adventure: "With the opening of this new space in historic Paris, I hope to further Mendes Wood DM’s mission by showing artists from all over the world, whose dialogues will strengthen the links between North and South, and East and West."


"I See No Difference Between a Handshake and a Poem", from October 14 to November 25, 2023 at Galerie Mendes Wood DM, Paris 3rd.