The Argentine Miracle Makes Art Lovers Climb The Walls At MFAH — When Looks Don’t Believe – PaperCity Magazine | Candle Made Easy

IIf you visit Houston’s Museum of Fine Arts this summer, you’re sure to get a jolt when you turn a corner and suddenly stumble upon an elegant old building right out of central Paris. Not only that – you’ll likely see a horde of people climbing up the side of the building like a horde of cat burglars.

can you believe your eyes

That’s just the opening question posed by the compelling works of a world-renowned Argentine conceptual artist in the MFAH’s Leandro Erlich: Seeing Is Not B Believe exhibition.

From afar, the showpiece “Bâtiment” (2004) convincingly depicts a true 19th-century, four-story stone building one would see in the City of Light, complete with wrought-iron window grilles and other distinctive features that characterize the Haussmannian style architectural facade that predominates in much of Paris.

Only on closer inspection do you understand this vision as an optical illusion. The perception is created by a giant mirror reflecting human “climbers” lying in strategic positions on a wooden platform resembling the facade of a stage set on the floor of the Law Building’s Cullinan Hall.

Also, if you look closely, you’ll see someone who looks a lot like you standing near the building. In fact, you discover it’s you – or your doppelganger. So you have become part of the double world that you are beginning to perceive.

It is all the more thought-provoking to realize that the scene actually expands from the actual double spectacle to a telescopic series of views through time. Enthusiastic participants and observers of all ages – particularly families, including a costumed group led by a tiny Spider-Man the day I visited – are constantly using their cellphones to share pictures in the ubiquitous ritual of remembering their own to have experiences and perceptions.

As such, this extraordinarily photogenic, immersive installation is a well-timed treat that promises numerous visitors for Erlichs Trompe l’oeil– Theme exhibition. It runs all summer and ends on September 5th.

Born in Buenos Aires in 1973, Erlich began his artistic career in Houston and at MFAH in the late 1990s as a resident of the Core Program at Glassell School of Art. As such, this exhibition of selected works from his career represents a homecoming for Erlich as well as a “ Revelation” for the MFAH audience, notes Gary Tinterow, MFAH Director and Chair of Margaret Alkek Williams.

Tinterow describes Erlich as “the uncanny in the everyday” throughout his career, during which the talented artist’s works have received international acclaim.

Argentine conceptual artist Leandro Erlich (Courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Houston)

Also on view in the Houston exhibition are Le Cabinet du psy (2005), an immersive two-room installation in which visitors perceive themselves both outside and inside a psychoanalyst’s office; an “Elevator” (1996), which offers an unsettling glimpse behind the bars of an unrealistically deep elevator shaft; Neighbors (1996), consisting of back-to-back apartment doors, both with peepholes offering views of interior corridors; Projector Corridor (2007), a trapezoidal box with a door with another trick peephole; and “Night Flight” (2015), where the viewer becomes the airplane passenger, with two different window views of the passing sky.

While this exhibition is only a small selection of Erlich’s work, it is a little gem worth seeing, not only because of the blockbuster “Bâtiment”, but because each carefully crafted piece teaches us to see ourselves and our surroundings from different perspectives and provides information that we get from different sources. We understand that by actually seeing we become engaged, active participants in an ongoing process of self-education.

A homecoming to Houston from an international artist

Bâtiment debuted at the Nuit Blanche event in Paris in 2004, a few years after Erlich was selected to represent his country at the prestigious global arts festival Venice Biennale (2001). There, his ‘swimming pool’ masterfully carried the illusion of visitors being immersed deep below the surface of the water in a beautiful pool, while actually keeping visitors dry, whether looking up or down at the alluring spectacle from two different vantage points.

This captivating, immersive installation was purchased by a major museum in Japan, where it met with tremendous popularity. Subsequently, Erlich’s thought-provoking work has been exhibited in venues of all kinds in major cities around the world, particularly overseas.

Aside from encouraging observers to look beyond the surface of what they see around them, Erlich has shown a particular interest in raising public awareness of environmental issues. A New York Times story describes the artist’s “Order of Importance” as “a harrowing image: a tremendous spread of traffic congestion on an idyllic stretch of champagne-colored beach” conceived to draw attention to the dangers of planetary warming. Composed of more than five dozen sand sculptures of cars, the temporary installation was commissioned by the City of Miami Beach as a public art project to be unveiled shortly before Art Basel Miami Beach.

New York Times Reporter Joseph Treastor also cites an Erlich forerunner of climate change that emerged outside the Gare du Nord train station in Paris as the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference approached. A structure resembling a smelting house called “Maison Fond”.

Erlich’s work became a novel fashion statement in women’s clothing daily when the fashion magazine presented a preview of its exhibition “Sous de Ciel” (Under the Sky) that was being prepared for the department store Le Bon Marché in Paris. This was Erlich’s first time exhibiting in a store, although he had previously worked with Chanel and Hermes on one-off events.

Erlich created several installations for this exhibition, “the most striking of which makes the famous escalator look as twisted as a pretzel”. women’s clothing daily Remarks.

Erlich told WWD he was interested in “transforming elements that are believed to be untransformable. . . into something else” and thus invites the viewer to “imagine reality differently”.

“I don’t think accessibility is dangerous,” says Erlich, observing that department stores are increasingly becoming cultural spaces.

Underlining this point, women’s clothing daily Notes that Le Bon Marché, owned by luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, “has increased its collaborations with artists as retailers, facing competition from online sales, place increasing emphasis on in-store shopping experiences” and themselves on e-commerce the year before with the launch of the 24 Sevres website.

From a professional point of view, The architect newspaper Erlich paid a glowing tribute, looking back at an amazingly popular Erlich retrospective at Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum.

Adrian Dannatt wrote that the Mori was a suitable place for Erlich because “all his work revolves around ‘architecture’ in the broadest sense, the profession practiced by both his father and brother, which he himself divided into ambiguous, ambitious zones of ‘ thoughtful and eerie, somewhere between Piranesi, Dan Graham and MC Escher.” (Note: A major exhibition of Escher’s work is on view concurrently at the MFAH through September 5.)

“The show, Leandro Erlich: Seeing and believing, is already a packed mega hit with an expected 400,000 visitors by the time it closes,” says Dannatt. He recommended that “any architecture student or even amused older practitioner” should have an opportunity to experience Erlich’s work, which he called “the most literal and resonant demonstration of the transformative psychological properties of built space.”

Architects and art lovers of all kinds who would like to see the Erlich show at the MFAH can register online in advance for tickets for one of the dates and time slots listed on the museum’s Erlich exhibition website. Because seeing is believing.

Or is it?

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