When Larry Gagosian decided to expand his gallery network in 2010, he chose Paris and opened his new space with a show of Cy Twombly works. At the same time, director Serena Cattaneo Adorno was planning the gallery’s FIAC booth, and she asked a friend, designer India Mahdavi, to think about the installation. Cattaneo Adorno, who continues to run the Paris gallery, shares, “It was our first FIAC, and we wanted to do a booth of portraits of women. India decided to work with colour but also with the space and the thickness of the walls, so I started thinking about celebrating the 10 years in Paris, and I thought it would be interesting to redo in a way what we did then and see how the gallery has evolved in 10 years.” Follow CovetED and discover all about the new India Mahdavi project.
The anniversary exhibition, called “Bustes de Femmes,” opens with 25 works this Saturday. Cattaneo Adorno explains, “Some of the works were selected by the artists, some from stock. Many of the artists are close to the gallery and have shown in Paris. We made the selection to show the DNA of the Paris gallery and the dialogue with the history of art, like with Balthus and Giacometti. We had never shown the Rodin before. This is a very emotional show for me.”
The results are unexpected and breathtaking thanks in large part to Mahdavi’s masterful use of colour. The designer is known for her expansive use of vibrant colours, and she has carefully planned how best to complement the art in this setting. Mahdavi comments, “It’s funny how colour in a gallery brings it to the level of a museum. Of course, the level of the works are all museum quality, but the colour magnifies everything.” She continues, “You realize how you can work with colours, and your walls don’t have to be white to have art on them. We did use white as a colour here because it captures the breathing space between the walls and creates a rhythm.”
The colours are indeed present throughout, and although not matching the works, they complement them, even in a tone that might seem contradictory. Mahdavi explains, “Usually the way I use colour is to create volumes. In this instance, I used colour as a backdrop. At first, I wanted to do what we did 10 years ago and give the thickness of the wall. This was not possible, so we decided to apply the colour as a surface and not a volume.”
Cattaneo chimes in, “It’s all very simple, and these are India’s colours.” She is referring to a line of paints Mahdavi created for Mériguet-Carrère called Flowers. Mahdavi smiles and adds, “Ten years ago I used colours used by Le Corbusier. Today I got to use my own. One of the marvellous things about Flowers is that the site, which is usually all men, had all these men carrying around pots of Flowers!” With names like Bread and Butter, Chaud Froid, and Verveine, the shades, although matte, are fresh and happy colours. Mahdavi says, “Most colours have a lot of grey in them. I just removed all of the greys from them. I wanted them to be joyful.”
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