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Esprit Urbain
Kourtney Roy
Manhole, 2017
Baryta colour inkjet print
60 x 90 cm

Esprit Urbain

Bruno Barbey » Édouart Boubat » Chervine » Thierry Cohen » Stéphane Couturier » Gail Albert Halaban » Léon Herschtritt » Simone Kappeler » Thomas Klotz » Youcef Krache » Jason Langer » Kourtney Roy » Stephen Shames » Takeshi Shikama » Louis Stettner » Arthur Tress » Michael von Graffenried » & others

Exhibition: – 18 Dec 2021

Thu 28 Oct 17:00 - 20:00

Galerie Esther Woerdehoff

36 rue Falguière
75015 Paris

+33(0)9-51 51 24 50


Wed-Sat 12-19

Esprit Urbain
Gail Albert Halaban
Chelsea, Manhattan, Penn South, Anita checking on Lou, 2008
Pigment print
50,8 x 61 cm

"Esprit urbain"

Exhibition: 28 October – 24 December 2021
Opening: Thursday, 28 October, 5pm - 8pm

"The city exists as a mass and is scattered in grains, in gramen, but what raises and raises these grains, beats them, makes them spin, is the luminous palpitation of the beings who walk through it, these are the paths themselves". Jean-Christophe Bailly

Each of the works in the "Urban Spirit" exhibition is one of those grains of which Jean-Christophe Bailly speaks. A receptacle of germinating potentialities, which are all experiences of the city ready to bloom.

Through the works of twenty-one artists, this exhibition asks the question of what the 'life' of a city is. Whether panoramic or fragmented, the image of urban space is constantly charged with life, even when humans are not involved.

The city is a body, with its nervous system and its members, which, like every being, is traversed by the astonishing paradox of being inhabited by stability and movement, identity and change. It is a plurality, a community of destinies and subject to the vagaries of the lives that inhabit it.

It is in this confrontation with this other that is the urban space that the works exhibited are inscribed. Whether it is the setting or the subject of the work, the city is this mass of blurred and elusive contours with which we are confronted, including non-townspeople. For the contemporary city is overflowing and constantly spreading according to an agglutinative logic.

The "Urban Spirit" exhibition is thus structured around works that capture the different ways of being in a city. From Beirut to New York, via Paris, Seoul and Algiers, the cities tell their own stories and give us a glimpse of what drives them.

Esprit Urbain
Louis Stettner
Promenade 1959, 1959
Silver gelatin print
29,5 x 44,5 cm

The city thus becomes a playground for rebellious teenagers, under the lens of Stephen Shames in New York, and for young children immortalised by Édouard Boubat in a Parisian garden.

It makes one dream big when contemplated with grace by Louis Stettner. At other times, it is in waiting, in retreat, allowing its inhabitants to emerge timidly from the urban opacity, as in the street scenes captured by Chervine.

In Dinah Diwan's work, the city is this time cobbled together and adopts the contours of an emotional cartography.

Giving the city a chance to tell its own story also means allowing it to express itself in a confrontation with the radical nature of architecture. Whether they become pictorial motifs in the work of Stéphane Couturier and Youcef Krache, or lace the sky and the asphalt in the work of Jason Langer and Algimantas Kezys, buildings construct the syntax of urban space.

Other artists, such as Kourtney Roy and Michael von Graffenried, wanted to show the city as the theatre of absurd situations, in which humans are at odds with the urbanity that surrounds them.

The entry into what makes a city pulsate can also take place on the scale of windows or large bay windows, as is the case in the voyeuristic images of Gail Halbert Halaban.

The image of a city can also show what cannot be seen, as when Thierry Cohen captures the light pollution that masks the stars above Paris.

At other times, the city suggests the possibility of escape. These few suspended moments, as Arthur Tress shows, seem to tell us that it is possible to escape from its tumult.

Esprit Urbain
Simone Kappeler
Los Angeles, 18.7.1981, 1981
Ilfochrome color print
80 x 120 cm