Paris Internationale, a show by and for gallery owners, offers an attractive and targeted alternative to FIAC. But will sales follow?

In a green avenue of the upscale 16th arrondissement in western Paris, the seventh edition of Paris Internationale opened yesterday in an elegant Haussmannian building where exhibitors present duets and solo shows in a friendly atmosphere.

While the number of American galleries is on the decline, many emerging merchants from other regions have given priority to this simultaneous gathering of the FIAC, despite travel and vaccination issues.

Of the 36 galleries from 21 countries, 20 are first-time participants. “This year, the New York galleries did not participate because of the uncertainty of the Covid, but we have always had around forty galleries here”, Axel Dibie, co-owner of Crèvecoeur, one of the founding galleries of the fair and committee member, told Artnet News.

Haydeh Ayazi, New Years owl (2021). Courtesy of Delgosha, Tehran.

There are two defining aspects of Paris Internationale, from October 20 to 24. The first is that it is by invitation only, by tapping the galleries identified by the committee rather than accepting open applications. The second is that it usually changes its location. Apart from a year when she rented the old parking lot of the Release newspaper, the place tends to be a turn-of-the-century building.

Focusing squarely on creators, a requirement this year was that galleries show work by only one or two artists. “The galleries responded very positively to this as it imposed a ‘salon’ atmosphere and made the fair more cohesive,” said Dibie, who sold two brightly colored abstract-figurative paintings of kittens, from Ad Minoliti, each priced at € 25,000 ($ 30,000) and four sculptures by Naoki Sutter-Shudo, priced at € 6,000 ($ 7,000) each, during the preview.

Elaborating on the philosophy of Paris Internationale, the director of the exhibition Silvia Ammon declared: “The idea of ​​community has always been the key to our project. We invite the galleries we admire and we give them carte blanche to present the artists they want.

“I like that the fair is always in a domestic environment, so you can see the work in a nicer setting than a tent,” enthused Kendall Koppe, a loyal participant from Glasgow who presents a solo exhibition of the non-binary artist Hamish Chapman. .

Helene Teede, Mothers in others (2021). Courtesy of the First Floor Gallery, Harare.

The fact that first sales did not reach pre-pandemic levels has not deterred galleries that remain committed to promoting their artists. “It’s always a tough year, we can’t expect it to be like 2019,” said Alejandra Monteverde, director of premier exhibitor Crisis, from Lima, who brought in Sarah Zapata’s textile works and paintings by Raul Silva. “We know it’s not a commercially interesting fair, but it’s about symbolic value and positioning,” she added. To this end, Monteverde had the pleasure of bringing Hans Ulrich Obrist to the stand at the preview.

Testifying to the show’s appeal as a side event to FIAC, several galleries overcame vaccination restrictions to travel to France. “The fair had to write a letter, stating an ‘imperative reason’, so that my administrative director could come because she had had the [Russian] Sputnik vaccine which is not recognized by the EU, ”said Ekatherina Iragui, owner of Iragui in Moscow. Iragui presents paintings, drawings and illustrations by Pavel Pepperstein, who represented Russia at the Venice Biennale in 2009. You, ”she added.

Pavel Pepperstein, Joan of Arc attacks (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Iragui, Moscow.

The fact that France does not recognize Sinovac, the vaccine made in China, also caused problems for exhibitors. “I came here on my own; the rest of my team couldn’t come because they got Sinovac, ”said Lisa Offerman, co-owner of LC Queisser (Tbilisi), which presents paintings by Melike Kara inspired by Kurdish tapestries and a film by Sophio Medoidze on the transition from a mountainous region of Georgia rooted in pagan traditions.

Valerie Kabov, owner of the First Floor Gallery in Harare, was unable to fly over Zimbabwe due to Sinovac’s restriction. She therefore hired the Parisian gallery owner Liza Fetissova to manage her stand. The gallery has sold several dreamlike semi-figurative paintings in the range of € 2,400 to € 5,900 ($ 2,800 to $ 6,000), by Helen Teede, a Zimbabwean artist who obtained a master’s degree in visual arts last year at Venice.

First-time exhibitor Delgosha (Tehran) had to deal with uncertainties of a different order before being able to attend. “Until three months ago, we could not travel to Europe from Tehran due to visa restrictions,” said gallery director Shabahang Tayyari. He sold “70%” of his solo presentation of Haydeh Ayazi’s brightly colored paintings revisiting Persian myths and calligraphy in the € 2,500 ($ 3,000) range. He praised the format: “We like the concept of the show which takes place every year in a different location because it gives a new angle. “

An installation of Ad Minoliti at Paris International. Photo © Margot Montigny, Courtesy of the artist and Crèvecoeur, Paris.

Other galleries that reported strong early sales are Lefebvre & Fils from Paris, featuring humorous ceramics by Molly McDonald, and Rhizome, from Algiers, featuring paintings on the absurdity of human existence by Lounis Baouche.

Yet it is the identity of Paris Internationale as a fair organized by galleries that exhibitors seem to appreciate. Julia Gardener, co-founder of Hot Wheels, attending for the first time, from Athens, which exhibits the figurative sculpture of Marina Xenofontos, said: “The artistic freedom of the fair allows galleries to introduce forms and media that visitors may not already be familiar with.

Fellow Vienna-based novice Sophie Tappeiner observed: “Everyone unites here. This is the third fair, after List in Basel and Frieze in London, in which she is exhibiting this fall, this time with works by Anna Schachinger and Liesl Raff. “It’s exhausting, but it’s good that things are happening again,” she remarked.

International Paris will take place until Sunday, October 24, 2021, at 186 avenue Victor Hugo, 75016 Paris.

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