Portraiture and Figuration. A Focus on the French Art Scene

Hervé Mikaeloff, guest curator for the focus on the French scene at Art Paris 2021

Portraiture and Figuration. A Focus on the French Scene

Since 2018, Art Paris has consistently supported the French contemporary art scene by inviting curators to lend a subjective, historical and critical eye and to design a special project highlighting French artists featured at the fair. After François Piron in 2018, Camille Morineau and her association AWARE in 2019 and Gaël Charbau in 2020, it will be the turn of guest curator Hervé Mikaeloff to share his perspective on contemporary French artist with Portraiture and Figuration. A Focus on the French Scene, bringing together some twenty artists around the theme of the portrait and the renewal of figurative painting in France.

According to Hervé Mikaeloff: “In a “post-medium” era, art is more than ever questioning its relationship to the image. In my focus on the French scene, by choosing the theme of portraiture I am aiming to show the renewal of figurative art. Above and beyond a simple stylistic effect, portraits are a means by which artists can develop a new relationship with the world. They act both as a standard bearer for each person’s differences and an instrument of integration. In his thinking, Emmanuel Levinas distinguishes between form, the subject’s anatomical aspects and the face, which rends the sensible. Its appearance does not divulge everything and yet sometimes it is through the artist’s brushstrokes that we can make out fragments of truth. The face is the starting point for considering how we think about our relationship with the other; behind the other’s face there is all of humanity. At the end of the day, by portraying Man we are looking into the nature of our own responsibilities to the world”.

Hervé Mikaeloff is an independent exhibition curator and consultant for numerous private collections and companies in France and abroad. As part of his focus on the French scene, Art Paris 2021 has invited him to write a text about each artist that will situate their work in terms of the history of art.

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