Thursday, April 29, 2010

Exhibition Report: Beat Takeshi Kitano: Gosse de peintre

by Marc Saint-Cyr

Over the past few weeks, I have been out of Canada for both business and pleasure: firstly, to accompany my friend and Pow-Wow boss Chris MaGee to the 10th annual Nippon Connection film festival in Frankfurt, Germany (keep an eye open for more reviews of films from the festival that will continue to trickle onto the site in the weeks to come). After a brief delay from the Icelandic volcano, Chris made it back home safely, while I took a train to Paris, France, where I've been taking in the sights and art, both film-related and otherwise. However, I haven't taken a complete break from my Pow-Wow duties, as I have had the privilege of attending an art exhibit exclusive to Paris that should appeal to readers of this site: the first-ever showing of paintings and art pieces from acclaimed, multi-talented artist Takeshi Kitano.

Entitled "Beat Takeshi Kitano: Gosse de peintre" ("The Painter's Kid"), the Fondation Cartier-programmed exhibition reveals the ever-prominent playful side of Kitano in an open, inviting environment filled with wonderful inventions and delights for the eye. Upon entering the glass-walled Fondation Cartier building, visitors are greeted by a statue of the man himself as he holds his own brain - an indicator of the personal yet playful tone of the exhibition. The main level of the building holds a number of installation pieces, many of which inviting hands-on exploration. One of my favorites is a row of fans that people can activate with the push of a button, but with surprising results. Two of the biggest objects are a brightly colored dinosaur with signs set up around it explaining Kitano's own off-beat theory regarding the creatures' extinction and a massive steam engine-like contraption with feet - Kitano's uniquely-designed sewing machine! On the opposite side of the main level, there is a multi-level marionette stage that comes to life every so often and is most reminiscent of (if not directly modeled on) the famous musical finale of "Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman." Another personal favorite display shows several figures of animals merged with machines and weapons, an incredibly cool collection that certainly spoke to the kid I used to be who would play with Lego for hours on end.

The lower level of the exhibit is primarily dedicated to paintings by Kitano, many of which created solely for the event. Stylistically simplistic, they continue to show Kitano's childlike perspective through bright, pleasing patches of color and thick brush strokes. Also on display in the darkened area is a collection of paintings of animals with flowers for heads - works Kitano made in 1996 following his motorcycle accident and channelled in similar paintings in "Hana-bi" ("Fireworks"). Venetian vases made specifically for the exhibition accompany the paintings. A theatre-like area shows a collection of clips from Kitano's television show "World Great TV," highlighting the performer at some of his outright wackiest moments. Another room holds a giant paint gun that visitors can apparently get to use via lottery numbers on blank dinosaur-shaped canvases (though it was inactive and unattended when I visited it).

There are other pieces within the exhibit (including some outside of the building), but really, the best way to experience it is to, of course, visit and explore it yourself. Kitano gives a generous and openly playful approach to art and the art world, nicely illustrating his personal views on such matters while continuing to solidify his status as a legitimately noteworthy artist. Anyone who is in Paris and a fan of him, his films or art in general would very much benefit from an afternoon spent at the Fondation Cartier.

Along with this art exhibit, there is also a major retrospective of Kitano's films at Paris' Pompidou Centre, which will run until June 26th and includes films by him, about him and featuring him as an actor. You can check out the schedule here, while the main web site for the Fondation Cartier can be found here.

Exhibition information:

Running from March 11th-Sept. 12th, 2010
Fondation Cartier
261, boulevard Raspail 75014 Paris
Telephone: +33 (0)1 42 18 56 50
Fax: +33 (0)1 42 18 56 52

Metro: Raspail or Denfert-Rochereau (lines 4 & 6)
Bus: 38, 68, 88, 91
RER Denfert-Rochereau (line B)
Velib' 2, rue Victor Schoelcher
Disabled parking: 2, rue Victor Schoelcher

Hours of operation:
Tuesday: 11am-1opm
Wednesday-Sunday: 11am-8pm
Closed Monday

Admission: 7.50 €
Reduced rate: 5 € (for students, under 25, "carte Senior" holders, "Amis des Musees," unemployed)
Free: "Laissez-passer," children under 10, ICOM members, visitors under 18 on Wednesday from 2pm-6pm

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