The Essential of Street Art and Contemporary Art in Paris in a disused postal sorting office!5 July 2021
Cultural deconfinement in Paris is explosive! This new ephemeral place called l’Essentiel Paris – The Essential Paris – is a major player. Opened only a few days ago, this huge sorting centre, belonging to Poste Immo, a few steps from the Gare de l’Est, is an open door to a magical universe where graffiti, installations and sculptures can be discovered and tamed. Art Azoï, the association behind the project, has achieved a real feat in just one month: to create an XXL exhibition with 43 artists whose often monumental works will make you swoon. It is difficult for me to talk to you today about Street Art; because the feeling that remains with me after leaving the Essential Paris is that there are no longer any borders between the arts. I had this strange sensation of being immersed in a new museum of experimental modern art where the works made in Situ become a single immense work: The Essential Paris is a Monumenta of urban art!
Exceptional volumes offering beautiful artistic perspectives
This former sorting centre has quite astonishing proportions; a few human-sized rooms are added to the two huge platforms. The skeleton of this impressive building from the 1960s is magnified by the works and thus offers captivating perspectives. The natural light is also part of the dynamic of the discovery and comes to caress the works, giving this space a little mystical side!
As you can see, unlike many street art spots where the works are concentrated, here they breathe and so do we.
It is a real dialogue that takes place between art and architecture. A perfect balance where one never clashes with the other, but carries it wisely with kindness and generosity. The whole, the overall work is of a gentleness inversely proportional to the rough side of the disused place. There is poetry in the air.
Curating like a maestro
In the context of The Essential Paris, it would be a big mistake to talk about the artists without mentioning the conductor! There are three of them: Elise Herszkowicz, Cristobal Diaz – Art Directors at Art Azoï – and Lek – an artist from the Parisian graffiti scene. They chose the artists. They imposed, gently I dare imagine, a chromatic code of blue, ochre and green. And they didn’t stop there, because they defined beforehand the place invested by each artist. Quite honestly, when you see the artists’ profiles, you will understand that the work must not have been easy. Achieving such fluidity in the reading of this exhibition is the work of a goldsmith.
By carrying out this monumental project they offer us a rare exhibition of exceptional quality!
An intergenerational creative network
To enter a place and after a few steps to have the eye caught by the faces and ephemeral human shadows of the French pioneer of Street Art that is Gérard Zlotykamien does not happen every day.
Recognising in the blink of an eye the presence of Parisian graffiti legends Dize and Psyckosenolimit. Seeing Dize’s wall face to face with Fuzi‘s doodles on windows… So much information that my brain had trouble integrating, but the space dedicated to the works was so immense, so much so that, for once, we could stand back to admire them. Right now, I absolutely have to write it down: Thank you The Essential Paris!
And then this work by Cécile Bonduelle, or should I say this ochre rope that links the two trays and ends up as a counterweight: magical! Its punctuation blends delicately with other works by very different artists such as Popay de Ayguavives, Romain Froquet or Tarek.
What is strange and very pleasant about this atypical journey made up of powerful works is to see to what extent the individualism, even the ego, of the artist fades away in order to be at the service of the collective and, in the end, to create what one might call a symbiotic work.
Go to The Essential before it’s too late!
A small detail that is important; The Essential Paris is ephemeral, it is free and places are extremely limited for security reasons. If these few images have given you the irresistible desire to discover this magical place that takes Street Art into another dimension, I advise you to book as soon as possible on the website of the Essentiel Paris. And if it’s the trigger for you and an uncontrollable urge takes you to take a tourist break in Paris, know that this summer is the right one! Graffiti lovers will be able to discover the Spot 13, a place that is also ephemeral, those who prefer monumental frescoes, the Boulevard Paris 13 or the new works of Chatou will be able to satisfy you. Not to mention the lovers of contemporary art who can stroll around the incredible Bourse de Commerce! And if you are one of those who appreciate conceptual art, I warmly recommend the disconcerting exhibition of Anne Imhof at the Palais de Tokyo.
The time has come for me to put on my sneakers again and to go in search of new places outside of Paris for you to discover. I’ll end this article with some of my pictures as a tribute to the artists who have offered us so much in this majestic Essential Paris.
See you soon for new Street Art adventures.