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  • Writer's pictureLuc Franken

Homage to rainbow warrior Julio Le Parc

We’re counting the days to reopen ZEIT, and welcome you - again - to our BALLS! exhibition, which will run till the end of summer.

One of the most striking works in the first room is an untitled screen print from the early seventies by Julio Le Parc, the Argentinean-born master best known for his pioneering works of Op Art & Kinetic Art.

We gladly share this article about the 91 year old artist from this month’s issue of Wallpaper* and hope you will be able to visit us soon to have a closer look at his work and that of over 30 other artists, all inspired by the circle.

Artist Julio Le Parc is still making waves

One morning in the early days of France’s national lockdown in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, Julio Le Parc is sitting in his studio in Cachan, south of Paris. ‘I’m here, waiting,’ complains the 91-year-old Argentine artist over the phone, like the unwilling character of a Beckett play. The Op Art master immigrated to France in the late 1950s and, since then, has captivated and challenged the establishment in equal measure. His large-scale kinetic sculptures and rainbow-coloured geometric paintings have been exhibited around the world, including at the Met Breuer last year. Now, in anticipation of a post-pandemic exhibition at its New York outpost later in the year, Galerie Perrotin is launching an online viewing room for summer. Le Parc’s taste for experimentation has shaped much of his output. He first introduced light into his work in 1959, resulting in the moving-light installations he is now best known for. They include the kinetic relief Continual Mobile, Continual Light (1963), in which mirrorplate squares, attached to nylon threads hung from a thin metal plate, create shadows that dance against a white background. Meanwhile, Continual Light Cylinder (1962-2019) is a series of unique, site-specific kinetic sculptures that reflect light through a volumetric form. These works call on the viewer to engage in ways that are at once playful and disruptive. Today, Le Parc is considered a national treasure in France, but it wasn’t always the case. During civil unrest in 1968, he was briefly expelled from the country for his involvement in the occupation of a Renault factory, and, in the 1970s, he was at the forefront of an artists’ protest group against the management of the nascent Centre Pompidou. ‘Artists don’t have a say in the decision-making process,’ says Le Parc. ‘The market is practically the only system that gives value to contemporary creation. We need to find new ways of assigning value. Otherwise, the power stays in the hands of the rich.’ We’ll have to see if such a paradigm shift becomes conceivable in the post-pandemic era. But for now, and despite his longstanding efforts, Le Parc continues to wait.

Julio Le Parc, photographed in his studio in Cachan in February 2020, with artworks from his Surface-couleur series



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