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Candid’s top ten things to do in Paris during FIAC

October 24, 2015

ArtsGroup Exhibition | by Harry Seymour


For those of you who haven’t had enough of art after Frieze week in London, and have hopped on over to Paris for the French equivalent, FIAC (Fiore Internationale d’Art Contemporain), Candid Magazine have compiled our handy  guide of ten things to do around town to give you a break from the fair.

1.Go To Paris

This is kind of both obvious and necessary, it shouldn’t however be overlooked as one of the advantages of FIAC. For those of you who haven’t it is the cliché it is for a reason, yes, cobbled streets, great food, good wine, romantic as you can get, etc.

Baitogogo installation by Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira.jpg
Baitogogo installation by Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira.jpg

2.Henrique Oliveira

Henrique Oliveira is a Brazilian artist who makes paintings, sculptures and installations. His work is quite simply stunning, using simply plywood he creates fantastical trees that appear to have grown out of buildings or have twisted themselves into incredible lattice structures. He has a permanent piece in the Palais de Tokyo, and is showing in the Jardin des Plantes as part of FIAC Hors les Murs series.

3.Prix Marcel Duchamp

This is competition for emerging artists who are based in France, as such it’s a chance to have a look at some work that you’ve probably never seen before. Previous winners include Thomas Hirschhorn and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, while this years finalists are general young darling of French art Davide Balula, Neil Beloufa, Melik Ohanian, and Zineb Sedira. The four finalists are displayed at the back of the fair so you can go and cast an opinion before the prize is handed out.

4.Ask how much a piece of work is

Don’t be intimidated people, this is after all what everyone is here for, well, everyone on one side of the fence anyway. Everything you see before you at the fair is for sale, remember this – you, along with anyone else has just as much right to go and enquire as to the price of a piece of work. It will force interaction with a gallerist and you never know, this could be a positive experience, if not for you then it’s probably good socialisation for them. If they ask how much you a interested in spending just make a figure somewhere around the mortgage for a one bed flat in central London, i.e. fractions of millions, if carried out correctly this will give you at least two minutes of experiencing how international art buyers live, just without the champagne, endless parties and private jets.

5.Visit the shopping centre Beaugrenelle

Although this time not for shopping, in collaboration with FIAC this shopping center in the 15th arrondissement has been turned into an exhibition space with a special “east meets west” theme. Called ‘100% Certified” it promises interactive work and an engagement with the architectural specificities of the building. It is the place to discover that there is life beyond Ai Weiwei with the likes of Shen Yuan and Wang Du.

Artwork by John Giorno
Artwork by John Giorno

6.Palais de Tokyo

Consistently for me the number one gallery in Paris. The Palais de Tokyo is a huge and wonderful space with bold, normally thematically driven, curation, an absolutely stellar line up of artists and art, and one of those really great old style photo booths. Currently exhibiting a retrospective of the poet John Giorno, who was influential in the early days of Warhol’s factory, organised by artist Ugo Rondinone, and using the work of seventeen other artists including Eric Satie and Andy Warhol, as well as a solo shows by Ragnar Kjartansson and Melanie Metranga.

Ragnar Kjartansson, Scenes from western culture, 2015. Film still. Courtesy of the artist & Luhring Augustine (New York); i8 Gallery (Reykjavik)
Ragnar Kjartansson, Scenes from western culture, 2015. Film still. Courtesy of the artist & Luhring Augustine (New York); i8 Gallery (Reykjavik)

7.Officielle

This is the ‘other’ art fair that is taking place over FIAC weekend, organised in conjunction with the bigger fair this is for the smaller galleries who are either on the waiting list for the main event, or simply prefer to show in this smaller, more intimate, environment. Expect a slightly more mixed bag of work, bolder booths, and work by younger and emerging artists. If you are in town to pick up a bargain then this might well be the place to be.

8. Visit the Upper Galleries of FIAC

If you are a smaller gallery and you’ve made it through Officielle and the waiting list for the main fair, if the organisers have decided you’re worth having in the building, then you’ll be stuck up on the upper galleries. This fortunately makes them an absolute must for anyone who visits the fair, featuring as it does excellent galleries such as Jousse Entreprise, Galerie Allen, and Gaudel de Stampa.

9.Take a Boat Ride

A lot of tourists who come to Paris take a ride on a Bateau Mouche. It’s pretty, you get to see a lot of great buildings, and if you can avoid being spat on by disgruntled passersby on the bridges then it’s a good time. FIAC have organised boats to run from Maison de la Radio in the west to the Biblioteque Francois Mitterand in the east, taking in not only FIAC, the Palais de Tokyo, Musee D’Orsay, Quai Branley, the Louvre, but also Officielle and about eight other major art institutions. Short of the chauffer driven Mercedes this might be your best way to get around.

10.Drink in Harry’s Bar

There is only so much art one can see in a day and, while not winning the prizes anymore, Harry’s is pretty much one of the world’s best cocktail bars. In situ since 1911 and only recently introducing a menu, the white coated bar servers will mix you pretty much anything without raising an eyebrow, and you can bet that it will be close to perfection. There are hotdogs for bar snacks, no music and free peanuts, it’s hard to know what anyone else needs in life.

By James Loks

FIAC runs until the 25th October 2015.