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Agnès Varda

Triptyques Atypiques
February 8 - April 5, 2014
Cloître Saint-Merri, Paris










Nathalie Obadia is delighted to present Triptyques Atypiques , Agnès Varda’s first solo exhibition at her Parisian gallery, but the third collaboration with this emblematic Nouvelle Vague director who likes to describe herself as “an old filmmaker who has become a young visual artist.”

While LACMA (the Los Angeles County Museum of Art) is exhibiting a set of pieces, including a cabin made of film stock, through June 2014, under the title Agnès Varda in Californialand, Galerie Nathalie Obadia is presenting recent works by this artist, a bold combination of photographs, videos and various materials. Triptyques Atypiques refers to the number 3 and to the old triptych paintings that Agnès is fond of.

The Portraits à volets vidéo comprise a central image, a photograph, generally in black and white (gelatin silver), printed and hung on the wall, with videos projected on either side. The point is to juxtapose the fascination exerted by still or fixed images at a given moment and the energy exuded by moving images directly linked to the central figure:

- Portrait of Kalmi, hip-hopper  and his almost acrobatic performances.

- Marie dans le vent : tousled but still, surrounded by wind turbines spinning with hypnotic regularity.

- Le ciré noir (The Black Waterproof)

- Achille and Pâris, enfants de cirque,  who posed together and, though still very young, work as professionals at the Cirque Phocéen (circus).

- Alice et les vaches blanches (Alice and the White Cows), which, at moments, given the calm of the cows, offers viewers – more than the other portraits with video panels – a mediation on our understanding of movement.

There are other triptych portraits, this time wholly photographic ones, whether in colour or black and white. For these, Varda has conceived metal frames vaguely inspired by the work of Mexican artisans, including the hinges. The photographs in the side panels of each triptych are related to the person in the photograph: La jeune fille à la tourterelle (Young Girl with Turtle Dove, 1950)/ Miquel Barceló (2011)/ Rosalie, fille d’Agnès (Rosalie, Agnès’s Daughter , 2013).

Agnès Varda suggests two other approaches to the triptych:

– An image of historical Paris and a little dog (1953), cut in three.

– An installation of three objects in homage to Lautréamont.

We know that Agnès Varda has already worked on the theme of vision in three images in the Triptyque de Noirmoutier ( 2004), shown at the Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, which has acquired the work, as has MOMA.

Visitors to the gallery are also greeted by a fragmented composition, but this time in the form of a jigsaw puzzle assembled and exhibited. Five holidaymaking school leavers who had just taken their baccalauréat posed for Agnès on her favourite beach in Noirmoutier.

As the exception that confirms the rule of three, Agnès Varda is exhibiting seven images taken from one of the sequences of her film Sans toit ni loi  (Vagabond, 1985), thereby continuing her reflection on photography and video and their relation to time and movement. Played by Sandrine Bonnaire, Mona is attacked by the grotesquely disguised Paillasses, who cover her with wine lees as part of a folk ritual.

Immobilising these filmed moments, the subject, meaning and rhythm of the film disappear, their place being taken by a series of abstract images, the traces of movements.

 

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AGNÈS VARDA ON TRIPTYQUES ATYPIQUES

 

“A title that rhymes, with a wandering Y.

A project connected with old paintings and my taste for

the figure 3 were the starting point for this project for an

exhibition at Nathalie Obadia in Rue du Cloître Saint-Merri.

Various triptychs: photographs in three parts, gelatin-silver

portraits with video side panels, frames in 3 panels…

but not three little piggies.

For the atypical ones, we’ll see.

Also, a jigsaw puzzle of 167 interlocking pieces

to reconstitute an image; it’s a game that becomes static:

baccalauréat students who posed on posts like resting seagulls.

We capture the cessation of movement, or a 24th of a second.

I like to bear witness to anti-violence by moving around the

media at my disposal: photography, cinema and video.

Black-and-white and colour… Paper, wood.

Metal and cardboard, everything can be made into a proposition.”

 

Agnès Varda, January 2014.

 

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The Three Lives of AGNÈS VARDA (1928)

 

Photographer.

In the 1950s Agnès Varda became an accredited photographer for the Avignon Festival and the Théâtre National Populaire (Jean Vilar, Gérard Philipe, Jeanne Moreau, Philippe Noiret etc.). Photojournalism in China, Cuba, Portugal, and Germany, plus personal photographs.

 

Filmmaker.

In 1954 she set up the production company Ciné-Tamaris to make her first feature film, La Pointe courte, thanks to which she is known as the “Grandmother of the Nouvelle Vague.”

The best known of the 33 fictions and documentaries both long and short made by Agnès include Cléo from 5 to 7 (1961), Vagabond (Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, 1985), Jacquot de Nantes (1991), The Gleaners and I (2000) and The Beaches of Agnès (César for Best Documentary, 2008). In 2011 the series Agnès de-ci de-là Varda, was shown on Arte then published on DVD. It features her travels and meetings with artists. 2012: release of all Varda’s films on DVD in a box set TOUT(e) VARDA co-published by Arte and Ciné-Tamaris.

President of the Caméra d’Or jury at the Cannes Film Festival in 2013.

 

Visual artist.

In 2003 Agnès started her career as a “visual artist” (an expression she prefers to the French plasticienne), makinginstallations, videos and photographs.

2003, Venice Biennale, PATATUTOPIA

2004, Galerie Martine Aboucaya, LES VEUVES DE NOIRMOUTIER (collection FRAC de Lorraine) and LE TRIPTYQUE DE NOIRMOUTIER.

2006, Fondation Cartier pour l’Art Contemporain, L’ILE ET ELLE: 8 installations, including LA CABANE DE CINÉMA made from film stock, LE TRIPTYQUE DE NOIRMOUTIER (collections MOMA and Fondation Cartier), LE TOMBEAU DE ZGOUGOU (collections Fondation Cartier and MAC/VAL), and LA MER IMMENSE (collection MAC/ VAL).

2009, CRAC de Sète, LA MER ETSÈTERA.

2009, Lyon Biennale, 3 CABANES.

June 2010, Galerie Nathalie Obadia in Brussels, PORTRAITS BRISÉS.

June 2010, Art 41 Basel (Art Unlimited with Galerie Nathalie Obadia), LA CABANE SUR LA PLAGE, which is also a projection cabin.

March-April 2012, CAFA Art Museum, Beijing and Hubei Art Museum, Wuhan (China), recent installations and photographs taken in Chine in 1957 displayed on a specially designed structure

June–August 2012, LE VOYAGE À NANTES : DES CHAMBRES EN VILLE and PAROLES DE SQUATTEURS.

January–February 2013, recent photographs and new video under the title LES BOUCHES DU RHÔNE, at the Galerie d’Art du Conseil Général in Aix-en-Provence, as part of Marseille-Provence 2013.

June–August 2013, Bildmuseet, Umea, Sweden, solo show on two floors.

June to September 2013 : Dinard, L’AMOUR ATOMIQUE (group show), DÉPÔT DE LA CABANE DE PLAGE and BORD DE MER (collection Fondation Bernard Magrez).

November 2013–June 2014: LACMA (Los Angeles), AGNÈS VARDA IN CALIFORNIALAND

And also: SMAK Ghent, Haus der Kunst Munich, Sélestat, Lieu Unique - Nantes, Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo - Seville, Musée Serralves - Porto.