The bursting onto the contemporary art scene of the Franco-Lebanese artist Christine Safa in 2021 and 2022 has drawn great notice in France and abroad. She joined the Galerie Lelong & Co. when she was 27, where she quickly found a promising position. Safa’s paintings, with their juxtaposition of colours and forms, bear witness to a distant and nostalgic memory and aim to convey recalled feelings. The artist grinds her own colours and prepares her canvas according to a precise alchemy, obtaining a quality of flatness and light that is all her own. She gives life to indefinable and evanescent images, which appear to us as if in a dream. And so, from a seen form is born a marriage of forms revealing a mountain, a tree, a horizon, with fragments of the human figure mixed in: a face, a shoulder, a silhouette.
The exhibition presents a group of recent and never-before-seen oil paintings. Most of them come from her stays in Greece, Spain, and Lebanon, during which Safa observes and immerses herself in the landscape. She then allows her memories to settle, before finally, once back in the studio, putting the image to canvas. These works, painted from memory, translate the fervour of a feeling with the help of a warm palette, proof of her Mediterranean roots. What it’s like to be there, simply but fully, is what these sober and powerful paintings express with obvious empathy. A selection of works on paper made by Safa during her travels rounds out the exhibition.
“I see my paintings as tributes, fragments of memories: that which remains. And that which remains is what I paint. As I paint, I generate the outline, the shape of ruins of memories that both welcome time and are subject to it. For me, this is ultimately my experience of these inner landscapes. On the canvas, the figures settle down, fade away, and become a layer of paint. The colour becomes saturated or lets the light shine through. A discernment of emotional states, dictated by the search for a familiar light.” – Christine Safa
Exhibition from May 10 to July 13, 2023.
For a long time, the Galerie Lelong was associated with some of the major names of the second half of the 20th century, such as Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Antoni Tàpies, Francis Bacon, Eduardo Chillida who exhibited at rue de Téhéran as early as 1945. The gallery took on its current structure in 1981, under the direction of Daniel Lelong, Jacques Dupin, and Jean Frémon. Other major names joined the gallery at this time, including Pierre Alechinsky, Konrad Klapheck, Jannis Kounellis, Louise Bourgeois, and Arnulf Rainer, followed later by Sean Scully, Günther Förg, and Andy Goldsworthy, to name just a few. In the new millennium, the Galerie Lelong has extended the geographical and expressive diversity of its artists, working with Jaume Plensa, Rebecca Horn, Barry Flanagan, Kiki Smith, Barthélémy Toguo, Nalini Malani, Ettore Spalletti, Juan Uslé, and recently Lin Tianmiao and Etel Adnan.
In addition to the organisation of exhibitions in its galleries and its participation in major international fairs, the Galerie Lelong collaborates with museums in the organisation of exhibitions and works to ensure that the artists it promotes figure in important public and private collections. The Galerie Lelong often commissions monumental sculptures for public and private clients. Such works have been installed in Shanghai, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cambridge, and Istanbul, for example.
The Galerie Lelong New York, created in 1985, shares with Paris the representation of Nancy Spero, Ana Mendieta, Jaume Plensa, and Andy Goldsworthy and has gradually developed its own identity. Its director, Mary Sabbatino, has played her part in creating the international reputation of artists such as Hélio Oiticica, Cildo Meireles, Petah Coyne, and Alfredo Jaar. She also shows work from younger artists who have quickly found a large audience (Angelo Filomeno, Emilio Perez, Kate Shepherd).
More than 150 exhibition catalogues have been published in the Repères collection, with texts from authors including Michel Leiris, Pierre Restany, David Sylvester, Michael Peppiatt, Rudi Fuchs, Yves Bonnefoy, Catherine David, Octavio Paz, Enrique Juncosa, Armin Zweite, Siri Hustvedt, and more. The gallery also publishes collections of interviews and writings by artists (Donald Judd, Louise Bourgeois, Sean Scully, Richard Serra…) and, in collaboration with the artist’s descendants, has published the catalogue raisonné of the works of Joan Miró,.
In the Parisian gallery, a very dynamic team specialises in prints. Each year it produces new editions in collaboration with artists and workshops, including lithographs, prints, pochoirs, and multiples.
Etel Adnan • Pierre Alechinsky • Karel Appel • Boomoon • James Brown • Eduardo Chillida • Nicola De Maria • Marc Desgrandchamps • Leonardo Drew • Jean Dubuffet • Simone Fattal • Barry Flanagan • Günther Förg • Andy Goldsworthy • Jane Hammond • David Hockney • Frank Horvat • Rebecca Horn • Jean-Baptiste Huynh • Samuel Levi Jones • Phillip King • Konrad Klapheck • Jiri Kolàr • Jannis Kounellis • Nalini Malani • Ana Mendieta • Henri Michaux • Joan Miró • David Nash • Ernest Pignon-Ernest • Jaume Plensa • Arnulf Rainer • Paula Rego • Christine Safa • Sean Scully • Kate Shepherd • Kiki Smith • Nancy Spero • Antoni Tàpies • Mildred Thomson • Barthélémy Toguo • Juan Uslé • Fabienne Verdier • Ursula von Rydingsvard • Jan Voss • Wang Yan Cheng