28 May 2014

Bordeaux’s Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez

Visitors to Bordeaux with an interest in contemporary art should try to find time to visit the Institut Culturel Bernard Magrez. The Institut opened in 2011 in the Château Labottière, not far from the city centre. Until 20 July it is offering a show between shows, Entre deux expositions, exhibiting some of the Institut’s recent acquisitions for its collection.

Before entry the visitor encounters an arresting neon on the Pavilion, Bernard Magrez’s own ‘Autograph’:

A successful entrepreneur, who now owns four major wine-producing chateaux, Magrez is stating the Institut’s mission based on his own four cardinal virtues:

Vivre debout The strength of Living Upright
Respecter l’autre The justice of Respecting the other
Jamais renoncer The courage to Never give up
Gagner en tempérance The wisdom to Gain temperance

These provide a counterpoint to the other neon attached to the building, Le réveil de la jeunesse empoisonnée (The awakening of poisoned youth, 2011?) by Claude Lévêque:

Inside the Pavilion, three videos are being screened, one of them, by Benoit Maire and commissioned by Magrez in 2010, is on the theme of Jamais renoncer. Another, Tracking Happiness (2010), by Mircea Cantor is a hypnotic film of women sweeping sand (left). British visitors may be reminded of Carroll’s “seven maids with seven mops” but can be reassured that its duration at 11 minutes is less than “half a year”, (if slightly in breach of Red Alan’s rule 5).

There are also three large and detailed paintings on paper by a Franco-Serbian artist, Nebojsa Bezanic, exploring the history of three of Magret’s Grand Cru Classé Chateaux (La Tour Carnet 2010, below left) and, as you leave the Pavilion, another neon by Claude Lévêque, advises Riez! (2012, Laugh!, or perhaps more appropriately, Have Fun!):

After the Pavilion the visitor moves on to the main exhibition in a new space adjacent to the Chateau. I won’t attempt to report on all the recent additions to the Collection, but I was struck by the Belgian Wim Delvoye’s Untitled (Car Tyre) 2007 (a hand-carved car tyre, below left) and Serge Poliakoff’s Composition en cinq couleurs (Composition in five colours, 1956-57, below right), one of the earliest-dated works in the collection.

Photographing the exhibits was difficult because of reflections, but prints by Andy Warhol (Depardieu, 1986) and Peter Doig (Canoe Island, 2000) are recognisable, below left and right:

More of the collection is to be found in the main building of Château Labottière which provides a handsome background for sculpture like Jean-Michel Othonier’s Le nœud de Babel, (Node of Babel, 2013):

and for photography - Jean-Marie Périer’s 1966 portrait of Françoise Hardy in a Paco Rabane dress couldn’t be further from Steve McCurry’s Afghan Girl of 1985:

Just as much of a contrast are Damien Hirst’s Painted Skulls 2 (eyes open) (2013, below left) and Pierre et Gilles’ Le Désesperé (The desperate one, 2013, below right), more sedate than Vive La France, their previous appearance on this blog.  Another YBA photograph recently acquired for the collection is Sam Taylor-Wood’s large Self Portrait suspended 1 on display near the ticket office.

Finally, although the collection seems to be mainly focussed on two-dimensional representation, as already mentioned it does include sculptures including this piece in the Chateau garden. By Shen Yuan, Crâne de la Terre (Skull of the Earth, 2011) was made in stone and cement and its contrast of skyscrapers and rough stone can be seen as her comment on contemporary China.

Vistors to the Institut’s collection will find that it is well-documented in French and English. It is open Thursday to Sunday, 14:00 to 19:00 but, as always, it is advisable to confirm this on the website.  British visitors might like to think which of their countries’ artists they would to see added to the collection – my suggestions (for what they are worth) are Peter Howson and Julian Opie.

Entre deux expositions ends on 20 July.

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