What in the world is that?

A globe that fits in­side a walk­ing cane and Bakongo fetishes are among the fan­tas­ti­cal ob­jects to grace Parisian gal­leries this Septem­ber

Country Life Every Week - - Art Market -

IF An­thony Meyer de­scribes an Inuit arte­fact as ‘an enig­matic ob­ject of an­thro­po­mor­phic form’, then its mean­ing must in­deed be ob­scure. Is it hu­man, an­i­mal, fish, bird or in­sect? Mr Meyer, of the epony­mous gallery in the rue des Beaux-arts on the Parisian Left Bank has dealt in Oceanic tribal arts since the 1980s, but he also col­lected early Eskimo art—as he terms it—and he is in­ter­na­tion­ally re­spected for his ex­per­tise.

In 2010, he launched a spe­cial­ist depart­ment to deal in it and the 71 ∕2in wal­rus-tusk carv­ing is his poster ob­ject for this year’s Par­cours des Mon­des from Septem­ber 6 to 11 (www.par­cours-desmon­des.com). It is about 1,000 years old, give or take a cou­ple of cen­turies, and comes from the Alaskan Punuk cul­ture on the Ber­ing Sea.

Mr Meyer has a busy au­tumn ahead of him, with the Bi­en­nale des An­ti­quaires at the Grand Palais over­lap­ping with the Par­cours, from Septem­ber 10 to 18 (www. bi­en­nale-paris.com), and then Frieze Masters in Lon­don from Oc­to­ber 6 to 9 (www.frieze.com/ fairs/frieze-masters). For this rea­son, un­like some of the neigh­bour­ing shows, his spe­cial Par­cours ex­hi­bi­tion will close on Septem­ber 11. It will be on the theme of ‘Se­ries & Col­lec­tions’: groups of same­type ob­jects, ob­jects of sim­i­lar form and/or func­tion, and a col­lec­tion of ob­jects of di­verse prove­nance and ty­pol­ogy all rep­re­sent­ing the same im­age.

Now in its 15th year, the Par­cours is widely re­garded as the fore­most pri­mal-arts fair, although, re­cently, it has ex­panded be­yond its tra­di­tional ‘tribal’ base to in­clude a wide range of Asian arts and also some an­tiq­ui­ties. The 78 par­tic­i­pants in­clude 16 gal­leries from Bel­gium, 11 from the USA and oth­ers from Bri­tain, Aus­tralia, Italy, Morocco, the Nether­lands, Spain and Switzer­land.

With the ex­hi­bi­tions con­cen­trated in an eas­ily walked and most agree­able area around Saint-ger­main-de­sprés, the Par­cours is al­ways stim­u­lat­ing and it has ed­u­cated and en­thused me in fields about which I had pre­vi­ously known lit­tle. Alas, I shall have to miss this one.

Spe­cialised, or fo­cused, shows in­clude African sub­jects and Bwiti reli­quar­ies at the Ga­lerie Bernard Du­lon; Bakongo fetishes at the Ga­lerie Alba et Alain Le­comte; the oneiric (dream­like) uni­verse of Mon­sieur X at the Ga­lerie SL (Fig 3); ‘Sav­age Is­land —The Art of Niue’ with Michael Evans (Fig 1); and net­suke with Max Ruther­ston (Fig 2). Bwiti is a syn­cretic be­lief sys­tem in Gabon and Cameroon that com­bines el­e­ments of an­i­mism, an­ces­tor wor­ship and Chris­tian­ity. It in­volves much use of the psy­che­delic root bark of the Taber­nan­the iboga plant. Niue, north-east of New Zealand, is one of the world’s small­est states and is known for bark-cloth paint­ings and el­e­gant clubs and spears. An­other re­mark­able ex­hi­bi­tion will be Yann Fer­randin’s ‘Hair’, which has taken some years to as­sem­ble and in­cludes combs and or­na­ments from Africa, Ocea­nia, Asia and North Amer­ica. Vis­i­tors will need to be very dis­ci­plined if they are not to be dis­tracted by two other col­lab­o­ra­tive events tak­ing place in much the same area at the same time. To mark la ren­trže, when France re­turns from hol­i­day, nearly 30 art, an­tique and de­sign gal­leries in the Carré Rive Gauche streets will be of­fer­ing hospi­tal­ity and trea­sures on the evening of Septem­ber 6. In ad­di­tion, the Par­cours de la Céramique et des Arts du Feu, with a fur­ther 22 French,

Fig 1: Niue 1860s hand-painted bark cloth. With Michael Evans

Wooden Congo statue. With Ga­lerie SL

Fig 2: Lac­quer panel. With Max Ruther­ston

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