Dynasty – Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris & Palais de Tokyo, Paris

The Musée d’art moderne hasn’t had the best of years so far. The staff thought that it was a good idea to give the fusty old canvases a bit of an airing by leaving one of the windows open overnight, before coming into work the next morning to find five paintings including a Picasso, a Matisse, a Braque, a Léger and Modigliani had gone walkies.

Equally, I’ve heard whispers that the Palais de Tokyo was rocked to it’s very corporate wallet-tickling foundations by a scathing review I wrote about it’s recent Pergola show. This may not be true.Whatever the case and the respective limitations of each gallery, both sites are, in theory at least, wonderful places to look at art so the prospect a joint venture between them both is particularly mouth-watering, particularly one that uses all the space available for temporary exhibitions at both sites. As I’ve said elsewhere, it is tempting to pit each gallery against each other, so to see them collaborating on a show of new contemporary art together is something to set pulses racing.

The show, one ticket gets you into both venues, has a refreshingly simple theme. According to the marketing gumpf, ‘revealing the drive of a generation, and the diversity of its preoccupations’. Simple as that. The ‘Dynasty‘ moniker is somewhat of a red herring, though it does let the curators make more than a few bemusing references about Krystle Carrington and Joan Collins. It’s a much more digestable platform than, say, Palais de Tokyo’s frankly impenetrable recent Pagoda show. The work of 40 young artists, the vast majority of whom are presenting new work and both live and work in the Paris region is spread throughout both venues, with each artist showing works in both spaces. There’s a lot of art. Too much to get to grips with in one visit. That isn’t a problem, it’s good enough value to go back. Both venues are packed with exiting, vibrant new art which gives a pretty optimisticoverview of diversity of the French contemporary art scene.

On a first visit, three artists really stuck out; Guillame Bresson, a contemporary art painter, taking the classical techniques of Poussin or Caravaggio and using them to depict contemporary hyperreal scenes; Jorge Pedro Nunez, whose work represented here seems him produce contemporary totem poles, shrines to modern living and contemporary art and, for me at least, the star of the show Jean Xavier Renard. Renard’s work is simple, anti-art. It probably shouldn’t be in a gallery, but scribbled on bus shelters and on the back of the doors in public toilets. His pictures look like they’ve been done, at least in part by children. Disturbed children at that. He uses marker pens, watercolours, crayons on paper. He deals with the messy, the obscene, contemporary taboos. He’s rude, he’s puerile, he’s gruesome, he’s childish, he’s silly, he’s brilliant. One of his most recent pictures shows Johnny Halliday in a wheelchair being attacked by a baseball bat-wielding thug. Marvellous.

I will be back, and not just to take another look at Renard’s work This has the potential to be the contemporary art event of the summer. As long as the staff of the Musée d’art moderne remember to lock the windows, that is.






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