During our trip to Berlin we stayed at the Michelberger Hotel. Of course when we, French hear the name, we smile as we immediately...
A chance to go looking for our inner shed, is what Alexandra Loewe is offering through her well-named exhibition “Refuge de la pensée” (Refuge for thought). Having started on 23 April, the introspection will continue until 21 May at the Galerie Pierre-Alain Challier, punctuated by performances on Saturday 7 and 14 May. The perfect occasion to treat oneself to an interpretive journey to the depths of one’s being. While you’re waiting, it’s the artist herself who is taking part in the game of discovery by welcoming us to her studio where she now lives. It’s truly an ode to organic materials, be they wood, raffia or plants, with refined elements, often in their natural state, embellishing pictures bursting with colour and graphic interplays, altar of her inspiration. Like a sort of “neo-barrocco-minimal” melting pot (as she herself calls it), it seems to be the fruit of her multiple experiences. Sometimes creative director in a visual communications agency in Chicago, sometimes exhibition organiser in New York, Alexandra is clearly happy to wear more than one hat. She is a multi-tasker, always on the go and her apartment-studio reflects that – dynamic, open to sharing and creativity.
Alexandra, what is the meaning of your exhibition “Refuge de la pensée” ?
“Refuge de la pensée” is an allegory of our tiny inner cabin. It is where the stories we invented when we were children are, and where our inner voice, with which we continuously communicate, resonates. It is our body, our first home. The exhibition is a series of pieces that opens the field of the embodiment of thought. On this occasion, portraits of philosophers, a personified bookcase, trees (to evoke the paper they enable men to produce), fabric books, free-to-interpret writing pages, and abstract scene spaces will be exhibited. Even if the pieces’ titles give some information, the work is open to interpretations. As Marcel Duchamp liked to say “The spectator makes the picture.” The spectator is free to add its own thought and possibly to find refuge in the piece.
What do you exhibit ?
I exhibit ceramics, installations, and drawings on paper and on fabric…
Can you tell us about your artistic training and career ?
I have always known that artistic expression was my way in life, since my childhood, when my mother initiated me into art. She was an artist herself. After having studied at Penninghen Ecole Supérieure of graphic arts, I have been director of creation in a visual communication agency in Chicago. While working there, I have lived an active artistic life, by participating to exhibitions and by co-organizing events in Chicago and in New York with a group of artists. When I came back to France, more than ten years ago, I dedicated myself to my art, and I was lucky: the exhibitions kept coming naturally. I am now inaugurating the new residence de la Source, in the Musée Rodin, in Meudon. It is an organization that the painter Gérard Garouste created twenty years ago, in order to support children in difficulty. Artists are invited to create a piece together with a group of children. There, the context of the museum is a privilege, even more because we are on the lands of the host, in his villa.
You work and you prepare your exhibitions from home. What is a typical day for you ?
The typical day is intended to be atypical. It looks just like the creative process, meaning without any rules – which does not mean it is not rigorous. The studio is really part of my living space, and this is the reason why there is neither time nor boundary. I can work until late in the night in order to finish a series of drawings, or I can shape the earth during a whole week end. The days are always very active and shaped by the immediate needs.
Where do you spend the most time in your house ?
I would say the kitchen. It joins every room of the house, and it is first of all a crossing-point. It is at once an entrance, a corridor, a dining room, a living room, a second studio, and of course it fulfils its main role of kitchen. There is there a large dining table that I can turn into a desk, a meeting table, a studio table, and of course the table where the daily meals are taken. Then, there is my large bookcase in which there are my books about art, architecture, photography, dance, design, and the children’s stories. It is a space-time of thought and visual distress. I can also cook while keeping working. I can multitask and I love living the action continuously, in a dynamic of creation to share.
In your work, what would be your favourite material ?
It is not easy to choose because they are all linked. I really like the contact of paper, the magic of third dimension of earth, the utilisation of the living of video, and the expression of the ephemeral in the performances…
Who inspires you ?
People who are committed to something inspire me, especially when they talk about their committed thoughts, when you can see them in their art and when they really act for what they believe to be important.
I really like the contact of paper, the magic of third dimension of earth, the utilisation of the living of video, and the expression of the ephemeral in the performances...
What is the piece that looks the most like you ?
“L’anthropologue” is a metaphoric auto portrait of my hands that I made for 50:52, a book in which 50 artists participated. It is a sculpture made of ceramics and wire. It is two and a half times bigger than the real size of my hands. They are open, towards the sky, representing the act of giving and receiving. Our hands are our first tool. Even if I sometimes create pieces more conceptual, the action of my hands is what enable the materialization of my thoughts.
In terms of design, how would you define your style ?
I will have to make one up… Let’s say “neo-barocco-minimal”.
You like going and seeing plays. Which one would you recommend us, in Paris or elsewhere ?
At the moment, three authors reinvent “Phèdre(s)”, play orchestrated by Krzysztof Warlikowski that you can go and see at the Théâtre de l’Odéon. This director has a talent for moving the boundaries of the scene space and for not getting the actors to “play”: they really are their characters. Warlikowski often makes the spectator uncomfortable, and this is exactly what I am looking for when I go to the theatre. I should also tell you about the series of 3 plays directed by Tiago Rodrigues, at the Théâtre de la Bastille : “Bovary”, “Ce soir ne se répètera jamais”, and “Je t’ai vu pour la première fois au Théâtre de la Bastille”. Rodrigues is keen on the words, and has the gift for putting the thinking of a text into new wording, efficiently and very simply.
And what about a restaurant that you would like to recommend?
Recently, I have been entirely won over by “Abri”. Katsuaki Okiyama was trained by great chefs and now reveals all the subtlety of the French gastronomic culture with a typically Japanese accent. The place has the virtue of being simple in order to focus on the essential: the plate. Then I would recommend “Neige d’été” for traditional celebrations like birthdays and for romantic moments. Hideki Nishi, humble and discrete, creates gustative pictures perfectly balanced. It is culinary fine jewellery.
Abri, 92 Rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, 75010 Paris
Neige d’été 12, rue de l’Amiral Roussin, 75015 Paris
Alexandra Loewe exhibits “Refuge de la pensée” from 23 april to 21 may at the Pierre-Alain Challier Galery.
Credits : Constance Gennari – firstname.lastname@example.org