June 28, 2022

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Paris, Europe’s Former Art Capital, Is Back on Top

2 min read

THE TREND ISN’T limited to the French capital, either. Last summer, in response to an urge to return to Europe after feeling overwhelmed by both the Trump presidency and Brexit, Lucy Chadwick, the British-born former senior director of Gavin Brown’s Enterprise in New York, decided, with a few days’ notice, to move her family not to Paris but to Biarritz, on the country’s southwest corner, and open Champ Lacombe, the Basque town’s first contemporary art gallery. Its inaugural exhibition last summer showcased works by Anne Collier, Arthur Jafa, Adrian Piper, Martine Syms, Josiane M. H. Pozi and Mark Leckey. The city was already something of a home away from home for Chadwick, as she’d visited with friends and family every year for three decades. Still, “to open a new company is a challenge, but to do it during a pandemic in a different country, using a second language, has been riddled with unforeseen hurdles and roadblocks,” she says. “It’s really only by virtue of having a community of friends that it has even been possible.” Luckily, that community is only growing, on account of an influx of American visitors and collectors from Spain, London and, of course, Paris. (Locals have also become familiar with the gallery, as Chadwick has organized several community-focused events in the hope of making it as open and accessible as possible.) She goes to Paris often, too, to wander museums and galleries and see what’s new. “I try to pack my visits with shows and meetings, and then return to Basque Country to breathe,” she says.

For her part, Ibrahim sees her move to France, a dream realized after many years, as a kind of homecoming. She opened her space with “J’ai Deux Amours,” a group show featuring the work of her entire roster of artists that was a tribute to the performer Josephine Baker, who, like Ibrahim, navigated having ties to both France and America, and demanded space for complex cultural stories, with all their tangled specificities, to be told. “Paris was the city for Black intellectuals and creatives when America wouldn’t give them a platform,” Ibrahim says. “One day I was in the car thinking about this and had a flash of lightning. I played ‘J’ai Deux Amours’ for my husband and said, ‘This is the title for my first Paris show. I need optimism and positive energy and love. So I’m taking Josephine with me.’ ”

Noor Brara

2022-05-04 21:35:27

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