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‘Superficiel’, a new group show at Galerie Mansart, Paris. Until June 13th, the Galerie Mansart is presenting a new exhibition questioning the idea of superficiality.

The group show, titled ‘Superficiel’, gathers 17 artists from various backgrounds and ages, and takes the opposite road from the one you would usually expect from a contemporary art exhibition. The co-curators Camille Frasca and Antoine Py have in fact considered the notion of superficiality as a valid paradigm – one that not only transpires in our everyday, but also feeds the inspiration of many contemporary artists today. The exhibition asks the following question: What is superficial? The answers given by the artists presented here are various – both in form and in their concept. 

The notion of superficiality comes through with the choice of support. In his series BLIND TEST (2020) Frank Perrin inverts the viewer’s perspective. His negative photographs printed on thick cardboard feature rows of seemingly random holes, which are in fact words in Braille, REVENGE and CONTROL, both of which are exhibited here.

The most striking image (or the one that speaks to our ultra-connected selves) may be Emilie Brout & Maxime Marion’s oil painting on a smartphone. The work displays an Instagram feed that is half real, half painted on the phone’s screen. Connected via USB, the phone never shuts down, which lets the visitor reflect on the time spent on the actual painting as well as the many hours we spend on our phones on the daily.

For others, superficiality may be about fooling the eye. Mathieu Roquigny’s Hobergine (2015) is a 100 cm-diameter tondo with shades of purple that may seem purely aesthetic, but the artist actually plays with our own conception of beauty. His work was in fact entirely created using sheets of toilet paper that were hand-dyed and randomly thrown onto the canvas, giving a new purpose to such an unattractive material.

Similarly, Sophie Kitching’s Dust Paintings (2017) reflect on the immediacy of the work. To create her pieces, the artists collected the dust from the floor of her studio with adhesive and mounted it on paper.

The visit continues in the gallery’s basement, which was open especially for the exhibition after remaining unused for years. In this dark setting, Damien Caccia presents two of his Écran de veille, one hanging from the ceiling, the other sitting on the floor. The artist smashed television screens to rework the layers of broken glass and transform the screen into a painting.

Next to his work, Martin Rahin covers his canvas with layers of paint and various transformations to evoque the work of classical paintings by Titian or Le Tintoret, as if zoomed into the original painting…

The exhibition is open at Galerie Mansart, 5 Rue Payenne, 75003 Paris.

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