While making the rounds at this year's Art Paris Art Fair, we witnessed a host of identity-obscuring portraits, and continued to encounter illusions with several examples of distorted fantasy worlds. Inspired and mysterious, the following works drew us in closer for an enchanting thrill.
Antoine Schneck's negative photo of an ancient, knotted olive tree printed on the black plexiglass wall of the Galerie Berthet-Aittourès booth seems illuminated from within, almost lighting the surroundings and the night landscape. In his attempt to render his images as true as possible, the artist superimposes numerous photos taken from several points of view. Out of these multiple views comes an incredibly detailed final image, revealing the richness of the textures and materials.
The series "Paradise" by Brazilian artist Albano Afonso features enchanted forests of ghost-like trees blended among realistic birches. The fragile phantom shapes are obtained by perforating the photo once pasted on an aluminum mirror back panel. This technique, creating an impression of movement and bringing light into the photo, is the artist's specialty. Belgian gallery Bodson-Emelinckx titled the exhibition "Crystallization of a Landscape." The latest collection emulates his 2007 work, "Florest," in which Afonso played with mirrors to create an environment mixing real with artificial.
The "darkened cities" by Thierry Cohen at Galerie Esther Woerdehoff captivated audiences when first released for their magnetically dark beauty. In this work—the result of traveling around the world since 2010—what's most striking is the unusual calm, peace and quiet in which Cohen manages to blanket the major cities. Showcasing the impossible—the night sky unobscured by light pollution for the city-dweller—the images are an upshot of the composite of pure skies shot in the countryside and photos of the cities at night.
Paris-Beijing Galerie presented black and white landscapes by Shanghai-based artist Yang Yongliang. Initially trained in Chinese classical painting and calligraphy, Yang uses digital tools to recreate the very particular and recognizable method of Chinese landscape painting. His photos of typical rocks and mountains of the Chinese country—framed in oval medallions or immersed in a traditional Chinese soup bowl—first seem perfect pieces of beauty but closer examination yields a landscape spoiled by skyscrapers, factories and machinery.
Also at Paris-Beijing's booth, the flying houses by Laurent Chehere comprise a poetic project. Featuring shabby buildings, houses under demolition and old-fashioned cafes, the work cuts structures out of context and suspends them in the sky, attached by their electric wires and banners that hold them up like festive garlands. Some buildings are aflame as others dangerously tilt—their stories plastered on their walls in the form of worn-off advertisements and faded wallpaper—all referencing old Paris and typical French towns.
The installation by Pascal Haudressy at Louise Alexander Galerie is as simple as it is efficient. The frightening atmosphere conjures Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds" with a black raven sitting on a black branch pointing out of the wall like a crooked finger and a wall projection around branch of a naked tree circled by a dozen more ravens. The installation, matching real material sculpture to a flat video image gives the illusion that the branch belongs the the tree, illustrating the artist's exploration of transitions in his work.