November 2008 - January 2009, Galerie Karsten Greve, Cologne, GermanyDiscover the exhibition
« In his most recent works, Othoniel engages in the side of an abstraction reminiscent of mathematical forms. From his own visual vocabulary, the glass bead line, he traces in space curves and brightly colored asymptotes that impose their presence to the viewer as with their irreducibility aesthetic. Not belonging to the register of figuration nor decoration, these very graphic shapes stand like assumptions, material expressions of an unknown equation.
Mysterious forms in the artist’s fragile and paradoxical world of the artist, join the most visual expressions of the modern abstract sculpture. One can think of Brancusi’s solid and sensitive geometry, Calder also, whom create a monumental sculpture from a simple line. With Othoniel’s great ricochets, the pearl becomes an opaque material, mirrored, and the beaded line becomes a column or a strong arch, planted in the ground, which imposes its presence and its scheduling to the surrounding space ».
July - September 2008, Château de Courson, Courson, FranceDiscover the exhibition
In his exhibition "L’Herbier Merveilleux", in the Chapel of the Château de Courson, Othoniel offers a tour around flower photographs he took during the last twenty years. They are accompanied by notes on the symbolism of flowers in the ancient and religious paintings. Recalling the layout of old Bibles and other holy writings of the Middle Ages, each of the plates exposed is illuminated with a watercolor drew by the artist. Inspired by his researches on mystical flowers, a bouquet of simple flowers was put on the altar as an offering.
Alongside the exhibition, Actes Sud publish The wonderful herbarium - notes on the hidden meaning of flowers in painting. Othoniel reveals a series of notes on the symbolism of flowers, texts and quotations collected during his readings, accompanied by watercolors and photographs he made. He points out the discreet presence of flowers in old paintings and gives us the keys to their secret language.
July - September 2008, Chapelle Saint-Martin du Méjan, Arles, FranceDiscover the exhibition
Othoniel reveals a series of notes on the symbolism of flowers, texts and quotations collected during his readings, accompanied by his watercolors and photographs. He points out the discreet presence of flowers in old paintings and gives us the keys to their secret language. This book invites us to walk and discover hidden stories behind them.
For the Rencontres d'Arles 2008, Jean-Paul Capitani invited the artist to expose his photographs, notes and paintings he made during his researches, and to achieve two windows for the chapel of Saint-Martin of the Méjan (near Arles, South of France). Othoniel’s herbarium offers us an opportunity to marvel on simple flowers, to return to theirs first meaning; it also sheds light on the sensual forms of his sculptures, the influences and connections that cross his work.
« Recently, I designed stained glass windows for a church in Normandy, it was an opportunity to reveal the importance of the sacred in my work as an artist. In this project, I wanted to get to the architecture of the Church of St. Martin Harfleur the peace needed for contemplation. To create a place covered with light and color, I wanted to put a red glass coat on all the church windows like a blazing sky, and create a garden dotted with mystical flowers taking roots below all the windows. A golden skyline passes through the church. This sky-coat and dive in a ground-garden where symbols of the Passion played by wild flowers are blooming. The flowers represented are fragile and destined to disappear if men do not respect them. Between the sky and the earth-Passion-garden, as the horizon, the cut of Saint Martin's cloak is presented, glowing gesture of charity and manifestation of grace. It is through the tear that comes the light and this theme is always present in my works ».
June - September 2008, Sonsbeek International Sculpture Exhibition, Arhnem, The NetherlandsDiscover the exhibition
From June 13 - September 21, 2008 Arnhem hosted the 10th Sonsbeek International Sculpture Exhibition, entitled "Grandeur." Artistic director Anna Tilroe has invited 28 artists of world renown to visualise the aspiration for human greatness. An exhibition about the urge, the dream, the conflict and the struggle that are linked to this aspiration. The works of art show 'Grandeur on a human scale'.
Residents of Arnhem carried the works of art through the streets in a magnificent Procession. In this way, Sonsbeek 2008 seeks to involve society in art. The Procession formed the prelude to the official opening of the exhibition in the beautiful Park Sonsbeek.
On this occasion Othoniel creates La Couronne de la Nuit (The Crown of Night), a monumental work that could be offered to a giant queen and echoes The Magic Flute by Mozart and his tyrannical queen of the night. The change of scale plays a lot in the work of the artist, the idea of transforming the dialogue between the visitor and the artwork. The artist creates a colorful glass beads dome like a starry sky.
May - September 2008, Felt Museum, Mouzon, FranceDiscover the exhibition
L’Edredon cellulique (The cellulique quilt), created for Othoniel’s solo exhibition at the Fondation Cartier, Paris, in 2004, is part of this idea dear to the artist that the fairy tale releases adults’s hidden fantasies, mastered since childhood. Othoniel seeks to liberate the wonder that adults tend to overshadow. In an aluminum lace (My bed, work in which is most often presented the Edredon cellulique) offers himself languidly to the visitor. This foam, made of wool created by the artist with the factory and the museum felt Mouzon, is a colorful blend of wool, carded and felted.
This technical choice gives to the material the depth and vibrancy of color, unlike a dyed felt. This hybridization of wool in his chemistry reminds us the knitted scarf made, each year in Trastevere, Rome, from the wool of a black lamb, representing sin, mixed with a white lamb’s wool, symbol of purity, in order to provide the Pope with an ever new gray scarf, catholic symbol of piety and forgiveness.
The quilt as a plump and pink belly invites us as well as keeps us at a distance, it is soft and fragile. This work plays in our frustration because we are not being able to throw ourself headlong; it is an impossible invitation. The quilt is dotted with eyelets that evoke impacts, injuries, wounds and holes we would like to grind. Those eyes, as of peacock feathers, are watching us. Othoniel reverses once again the relationship between the viewer who is no longer an observer, but is observed by the work itself, looking at us with a hundred eyes (Eye / el ojo, eyelet / el clavel Spanish commonly refers to the anus). It is an open belly that we do not want to enter, a cell escaped from a giant body that threatens us, a soft sculpture whose shape evokes a human cell surrounded by cilia virus.
As often in the work of the artist, this rose Mouzon foam uses other sense of desire, as the Murano glass which color and texture reminds us sugar, the foam Mouzon lightness and crisp looks like cotton candy. It tickles our taste and bulimic pleasure, it's a hot wave, baroque and extravagant.
L’Edredon cellulique is a digest of the artist’s obsessions: dream, sensuality, provocation, wonder. It is a picture of the poetic body, sublimated and simultaneously hurt by the reality of the world.
May - December 2008, Musée Réattu, Arles, FranceDiscover the exhibition
From May to December 2008, the Musée Réattu (Arles, South of France) - musée des Beaux-Arts de la Ville d’Arles - invites one of his most famous dreamers, Christian Lacroix, to invest 2.000 m2 of this famous Renaissance palace, former Grand Priory of the Order of Malta, which he had made, as teenager, his weekly goal of his truancy and the first laboratory of his artistic dreams.
Homage to a magnetic place, one-on-one with the curve of the Rhone, whose landscape and collections have continued for two centuries to dialogue with an extraordinary group of artists - including Zadkine, Picasso, Clergue, Alechinsky - the unique device developed by Christian Lacroix on a theme around the body, the fold, the hair, and the way of "raid-excursion" reinterprets the building and its surroundings in an extravagant reverie. Lacroix draws freely in the ancient and contemporary collections of the museum, revisits his own creations, invites contemporary artists such as Johan Creten, Daniel Firman, Katerina Jebb, Emmanuel Lagarrigue, Jean-Michel Othoniel or Bernard Quesniaux, as accomplices such as Chantal Goirand, Gael Mamin and Olivier Saillard.
The intervention of Christian Lacroix takes into account the totality of the exhibition halls and courtyards of the museum and is deployed outside of the building, including the facade on the river and the Grand Priory Street. He is both author and designer, with new insights and an "hand-sewn" scenery designed for each space.
The viewer is invited to cross the space in thoughts, to let go of his imagination and, as Alice, to lose the proportions of the real, notably with the giant necklace (Peggy’s necklace) Othoniel hung near Guillaume Janot’s pink flowers. Both artworks welcome the visitors and set the tone of all these playful, light and colorful interventions, paradoxical perhaps, but still true to their host spirit.
"A small necklace made of Murano beads distributed to a gaypride, the metro station at the Palais Royal (Paris), the small theater of Pierre Loti, watercolors, great emblematic necklaces. We needed one in this very court to tell the presence of art / crafts that I see too, the accessory that is not incidental, futility that is so serious, the childhood not so candid but cruel".
Diary of Happiness
March - April 2008, Galerie Perrotin, Miami, Florida, USADiscover the exhibition
Diary of Happiness
This solo exhibition of Jean-Michel Othoniel in Miami, shows a great installation titled Diary of Happiness: a giant abacus 2,20 meters high and 4,50 meters long, each bead of which is made of Murano glass and represents a day of the year.
This work of art, created specially on this very occasion, suggests slowing down the time dropping off the days passing by, just as a chaplet. It is also questioning the lost paradise and an invitation to seek happiness. The abacus frame is black on one side, white on the other one. At the beginning of the year, all the beads are placed on the dark side and it is our job to move them to the light, day after day, and to make each year unique.
"Jean-Michel Othoniel seized on glass as if it were an abandoned, undeveloped plot containing a conceptual treasure. We sometimes hesitate between the sacred and the profane in defining this esthetic, which echoes across past centuries marked by liturgical rituals and religious processions, but also by the law of desire and its cohort, of sentimental fantasies."
March 2008, Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Gallery, New York, USADiscover the exhibition
After La Belle au bois dormant and Peau d’Âne, in New York in 2008 at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. as part of the exhibition "Secret Americana", Jean-Michel Othoniel turned to a foundation myth, to the myth of the pioneer, presenting, inter alia, a transmogrified rewrite of the Wild West wagon. For this tribute to America, an evocation of “his” America, he goes back to the genesis of modernity: a suddenly opened up space of freedom and action that enters history as a dilation of time, as an invitation to dream, or, to quote a phrase of Stendhal’s that Othoniel himself endorses, as a “promise of happiness.”