Perrotin Shanghai is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new works by Jean-Michel Othoniel, marking his first exhibition in Shanghai. Using his signature module of geometric elements, such as bricks or beads, Othoniel creates significant glass sculptures that range from small-scale to monumental. For this exhibition, he will present a new series of suspended necklace sculptures alongside one new work in his brick series, titled Precious Stonewall. Taken together, these signature works provide an introduction of Othoniel’s artistic practice to Shanghai.
Throughout his long and distinguished career, Othoniel has experimented with and expanded on the use of various alchemic materials, most notably sulfur and glass. Othoniel began working with sulfur in the late 1980’s, which led him to embark on a research trip to the Aeolian Islands in 1989. There, he discovered obsidian, a naturally occurring black glass formed by cooling magma. This discovery was a turning point in his career, commencing a lifelong obsession with the sensual, yet unstable quality of glass. During his residency at Villa Medici in 1996, Othoniel began working with Muranese glassblowers, a pivotal experience that lead him to an inspirational discovery – the elegant appearance of glass is the product of a violent creative process. This sparked Othoniel’s interest in utilizing the malleability and fragility of glass as a metaphor for the human body and mortality. Like the human body, glass is a beautiful substance that is easily wounded. Othoniel’s sculptures carry the trace of the glassblowers’ bodies as it is mixed, pulverized, and handled by them – in some cases, purposefully leaving the glass wounded and imperfect. Othoniel has been regularly invited to create artworks in situ, interacting with historical places as well as contemporary architecture. He has repeatedly collaborated with Peter Marino on sculptures for Chanel and Jean Nouvel. Othoniel’s sculptures have been presented in major institutions globally, including significant solo exhibitions at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, Venice, Italy; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan; The Brooklyn Museum, New York; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France.
Othoniel has pushed the boundaries of sculpture with his innovative glass works, authoring a body of work that expands the material’s metaphoric potential. In this exhibition, the main room of the gallery will be adorned with four hanging Necklaces and seven Suspended Lovers. These works will illuminate the gallery walls with radiant tones of blue, red, pink, purple, and gold. The Necklaces are monumental in size, both suspended in space and cascading down to the floor, while the Suspended Lovers hang from a single thread. The works are suspended in the space of the gallery and also in time, as their solidarity preserves the memory of the unstable liquid state that preceded. The exhibition will also debut one new work from his Precious Stonewall series, continuing his investigation into both brick and glass. The work on view in Shanghai offers a glimpse into Othoniel’s architectural research.
Jean-Michel Othoniel was born in 1964 in Saint-Etienne, France and now lives and works in Paris, France. He graduated from the National School of Arts, Cergy- Pontoise, France in 1988 and completed a residency at the Villa Medici, Rome, Italy in 1996. In late 2018, Othoniel was elected to the Academy of Fine Arts in the sculpture section. Starting in January 2019, when the acceptance ceremony took place, he began helping the Academy fulfill its mission to defend, promote and support artistic creation. Notable public installations include his Belles Danses (Beautiful Dances) fountains at the Palace of Versailles, France; the Treasury at Angoulême Cathedral, Angoulême, France; and a fountain installation at The National Museum of Qatar, Doha, Qatar. Othoniel’s work has been included in major exhibitions internationally at the Centre Culturel Néstor Kirchner, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan; The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Saint-Etienne, France; Macau Museum of Art, China; the Fondation Cartier, Paris, France; Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, USA; Leeum Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul, Korea; Musée National Eugène Delacroix, Paris, France; The Brooklyn Museum, New York, USA; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France. Othoniel’s exhibition at Château La Coste, Puy-Sainte Réparade, France and La Rose du Louvre at the Louvre Museum in Paris will be on view concurrent with his exhibition in Shanghai.