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Les Ateliers de Belleville and 59 Rivoli: Explore the Art Collectives of Paris this May

27 February 2017


Discover the Honeypot of Artists Pushing New Boundaries in the French Capital   

Art collectives, Les Ateliers de Belleville and 59 Rivoli open up their studios to the public in Paris this May. Step inside to witness cutting-edge art workshops, exciting new exhibitions, and experience life amongst the French art world’s emerging new talent. In their company you will see how art can change perceptions, enrich lives and challenge commercial ideas.

Ateliers de Belleville: 27 Years of Art in the Community

Sunday 21  Monday 22nd May 2017 2 pm – 8 pm

In 1990, L'association des Ateliers d'Artistes de Belleville was set up to provide a platform for a range of artistic disciplines, from visual artists to, painters, sculptors and photographers. Known as AAB, the organisation quickly grew to a 300-strong collective of creatives, which co-ordinator Loïs Pommie says was a way of protecting their spaces from the changing urban landscape.

With big plans looming for Paris’s redevelopment, the space for contemporary artists and creatives seems to be shrinking… leaving this collective and their Belville neighbourhood base as one of the last bastions of its kind in the city.

One of the key ethos’ of AAB has been to support independent artists, and by reaching out to the Belleville community, they aim for a solid backing through open studios and street art for all to see. “I think the character of Belleville is always changing, but its sense of community is an important constant,” said Angénic Agnero, founder of tour company Paris Par Rues Méconnues.

Art & the Underground Collective

By creating a sense of commandership between artists and the community, AAB has highlighted the need for underground art to become accessible in Paris, and has done its best to put two paint-splattered fingers up to the big city-centre galleries.

May 2017 sees this close-knit community open its doors to the wider world to showcase its work as both artists and community leaders. The theme of this four day event is ‘Light’ and attendees will get to see the interpretations presented by AABs creatives and visual artists. The studios stretch from rue Picabia, to rue de la Duée and will feature around 130 different exhibitions.

Notable AAB alumni, such as the likes of abstract artist Cathy Bion and photographer Mario Andres Bermeo Torree will return to showcase selections of their latest – and most famous – work. Also in attendance will be Rébecca Campeau, a textile sculptor and papierist, and her universe of characters. Expect to see textile models of Van Gogh and Gustave Flaubert floating amidst the crowds populating her studio. Campeau aims to create a spectrum of characters from different social classes rubbing shoulders in her very own collective of puppet-like characters.

Photography at the AAB

The Association Photographes Parisians is the biggest group of artists occupying space at the AAB. Founded in 1996, over 50 professional and amateur photographers make up the group. Inside the studio, you will discover the process of traditional black and white photography; where highlights include the images of Lucille Botti Prize, the prize-winner of the Atelier des Photographs and Jean Pajot’s ‘Impressions of Vienna the Belvedere Palace’, an ethereal snapshot of the capital’s palace. A handful of photographers will be available to talk about their passion and their projects. Visitors will be helping them maintain their place in Paris’s rich photographic heritage.

Beyond the studios in the more bustling area of Belleville, there will be graffiti on display along the street-art route. The incredible colour-popping murals of Belleville reinforce AAB’s message of artistic survival amidst an ever-changing cityscape. “The walls of expression” are a chilled-out way to educate the public on contemporary art, and to meet the creators. “We are all happy to have a training ground, so we can leave our mark,” said one graffiti artist. Walking along the street, you will be immersed in their larger-than-life artistic vision: with every wall, flower pot and even some of the stanchions covered in paint.

Squat À Paris 59 Rue De Rivoli 1Er Ardt
Outside Le 59 Rivoli

Le 59 Rivoli: From a Squat to a Studio 

Open to the Public All Year Round

In 1999, three artists, ‘the KGB’ (Kalex, Gaspard, Bruno), set out to reclaim a disused building owned by Credit Lyonnais bank and the French State, with the intention of utilising the space as an arts centre. Once inside the trio set up the artist studios 59 Rivoli, which quickly grew to a collective of 20 permanent artists and a number of temporary residents.

The group transformed the derelict property into a six-floor workspace and created a den nick-named the ‘Aftersquat’ amongst the commercial shops of rue de Rivoli, one of the most famous streets in Paris, where rental prices continue to skyrocket.

Accepting temporary residents on an application basis, it gives cash-strapped artists the chance to create and showcase their work at minimal rents. The one condition of entry, however, is that the studio remains open to the public every single day of the year. In this way art lovers and patrons have the chance to permanently be a part of this vibrant artistic community, and be exposed to new works in a stunningly intimate setting. 

Residencies at the studio last for three to six months, and the group’s ever-changing story is told through murals on the graffiti-splattered staircase and installations on the frontal façade of the impressive building. Artworks  can change from a Rousseau inspired painting with sculpted monkeys hanging off balconies one week, to a huge collage of abstract portraits the next.

Each floor of the building has a theme of its own, and every studio section has a corner reserved for 8 artists. Here you will see them squirrelling away in their own world: oil painters stretching out their canvasses; photographers developing new prints; and sculptors sharpening up tools for the next lump of marble. One of the highlights of 59 Rivoli is the empty studios filled with works-in-progress left out on the tables; whilst surprises wait round every corner, such as the tunnel of art, a 3D maze of gigantic proportions.

Visitors to the studio will get to experience an artistic community firmly rooted in Paris’ creative identity… and see new ideas being explored in real time. Here the symbiotic relationship between art, the city and the audience is integral, and each time you visit, there will always be something new and exciting to discover.

Header & menu image by Olybrius are both licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

Image by Airair (talk · contribs) is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

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