Curator : Nicolas Trembley
A selection of singular works and large-format installations presented by galleries and selected by curator Nicolas Trembley.
Inspired by 19th-century exhibition fixtures at world’s fairs and shopping malls, the first edition of artgenève/sur-mesure reinvents the concept of the fairground by adopting the atmosphere of a funfair. The chosen works explore the theme of amusement parks, featuring rides, slides, trompe-l’œil panoramas, buggy circuits, bear fights and the presence of aliens and fairy-tale characters.
Drawing inspiration from exhibition devices popular in the 19th century at world fairs or shopping galleries, “artgenève/sur-mesure” reinvents the concept of a fair by adopting the atmosphere of a funfair. The selected large artworks explore the theme of amusement parks, featuring depictions of carousels, slides, trompe-l’oeil panoramas, and go karts. Extraterrestrials and characters from fairy tales such as Snow White also make appearances.
However, beyond the playful aspect, the artists express political or feminist positions related to contemporary society through the choice of these artworks.
Born in Strasbourg in 1965, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster lives and works in Paris.
metapanorama I, II & III
Triptych composed of 3 panels
UV pigment print on hand-printed linen
315 x 750 cm
Courtesy of Albarrán Bourdais
Born in New Orleans in 1961, Blair Thurman lives and works in New York.
Acrylic on canvas
184 x 1200 x 200 cm
Buggy Parasols, light garlands, armchair and painting
210 x 275 x 160 cm
Courtesy of Xippas
This collection of colour-filled canvases and buggy were specifically created for the artist’s 2022 solo exhibition at Frac Normandie, which was called Spook Rock Road (Kasino-Kut). This was a reference to a road in the USA that is home to various mythological rocks important to Native American culture.
The painting Mexico Set is composed of 19 monochrome acrylic panels in bright colours. Put together in a modular fashion, they evoke an environment that is reminiscent of the outer reaches of a racing track. The colours themselves draw inspiration from the chromatic palette used in comic strips from the 1960s and 1970s.
The buggy, which is called Obut (Indiana), is an all-terrain vehicle decorated with parasols and proudly bearing the name of the state in the south of the USA where the famous Indianapolis racetrack can be found. The artist also sees the buggy as a form of three-dimensional painting, explaining it as follows: “I liked to have the 2 systems of painting overlap, as a counterpoint – they complement each other”.
Blair Thurman has developed a fascination for the world of the automobile. Woven throughout his work that sits at the crossroads of geometrical abstraction of the 1950s and 1960s, Pop Art and “Americana”, he puts forwards expressions of American folk and vernacular popular culture.
Born in London in 1994, Oli Epp lives and works in London.
273 x 460 x 180 cm
Courtesy of Semiose
This sculpture – the first to be created by the artist – was showcased at his solo exhibition, which took place at the Semiose Gallery in 2022 and was entitled Nine Lives. The name of the exhibition is in reference to the myth that cats have numerous lives and this piece is named after the last of them: Ninth Life. The slide is inspired by the feline form; a recurring figure in the artist’s work, it is chosen for its popularity in videos that go viral on social networks.
Oli Epp’s work, which primarily focuses on painting, handles themes connected to tragicomic aspects of life and their complexity in this digital age. The artist believes that consumerism, entertainment and an overconsumption of images can result in addiction and anxiety. Each visitor is invited to make use of and play with the cat-slide, which cuts a slightly distressing figure imbued with a sado-masochistic aesthetic.
This is how the audience become actors and stakeholders in the work, transforming it into a playground within a space that is first and foremost artistic.
Born in Salt Lake City in 1945, Paul McCarthy lives and works in Los Angeles.
White Snow Dwarf, Grumpy
190.5 x 152.4 x 149.9 cm
Courtesy Hauser & Wirth
Since the 1960s, Paul McCarthy has been looking into taboos and archetypes within American popular culture. Coloured with both humour and sarcasm, the focus of his work lies in the repressed psychological implications of cultural representations of the American dream.
White Snow Dwarf, Grumpy is a portrait of Grumpy, one of the seven dwarfs in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. This sculpture is part of a series of works that feature a number of characters to be found in the fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm, an iconic symbol of the Walt Disney empire. By changing and distorting Grumpy’s face to the point of grotesqueness, McCarthy presents a critique of the superficiality of mass culture and consumerism. He also puts forward a challenge to Disney’s idealised notions of an innocent childhood.
McCarthy’s subversive works look to deconstruct symbols that are familiar to us, instead revealing darker and increasingly complex facets of our society of spectacle and the human psyche.
For McCarthy, nightmares are often the true ending to fairy tales, while entertainment in the vein of a Disneyland theme park is often solely for the purpose of achieving economic ends.
Born in 1971 in Paris, Joana Vasconcelos lives and works in Lisbon
Valkyrie Mumbet, 2020
Handmade woollen crochet, Azorian lace, assorted fabrics including capulana, velvets, cotton and polyester, ornaments, pom-poms, LED, inflatable, fans, microcontrollers, power supply unit, steel cables.
900 x 1700 x 1600 cm
This imposing textile work hung from the ceiling was created in 2020 for the inauguration of the Mass Art Museum in Boston. Forming part of a series developed by the artist over the last fifteen years, it is called Valkyrie in honour of the goddesses of Norse mythology. Valkyrie Mumbet pays tribute to Elizabeth Mumbet Freeman, who was the first African-American slave to win a legal battle in 1781 that secured her freedom.
Moving beyond the playful, colourful and sparkling appearance, this work makes direct references to the colonialist history of Portugal and the African slave trade to Brazil. As well as embroidery, lace, crochet and pompoms, the sculpture is created using capulana, a fabric used by women in Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony that was the birthplace of the artist’s parents. For the artist, these capulanas are the perfect illustration of the fluidity of cultures, reflecting a complex history that is interwoven with cultural exchanges that span both continents and centuries.
This work also forms part of a quest to discover traditionally feminine craft techniques, delving into personal and collective stories of women’s history. In the eyes of the artist, Valkyrie Mumbet is a symbol of freedom, representing the capacity of women to change their own lives by their very actions.