La Bourse de Commerce, Pinault’s latest exhibition space in Paris

“Tadao Ando, my companion in so many cultural projects, was the obvious candidate for such a challenge. With his minimalist aesthetic sensibility, a blend of rigor and purity, Tadao Ando is one of the few architects in the world who can establish a subtle dialogue between form and time, between architecture and its era, as he has so convincingly demonstrated in Venice.” Pinault said about the conception of this grandiose cultural space.

The Bourse de Commerce is a success, both from an architectural perspective and an artistic point of view. Located in the centre of Paris, in the area of Les Halles, onto the rue du Louvre, and mirroring Centre Pompidou, this building has maintained its beauty and all its historic features.

This major project began in June 2017 and was completed in March 2020 following three years of hard curatorial, refurbishing, and craftsmanship work. More than ten years ago, losing his patience with French administration, Pinault decided to move his collection to Venice, Italy, where he opened two majestic exhibition spaces Punta della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi, hosting remarkable exhibitions over the years including Youssef Nabil, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Damien Hirst, Irving Penn and many more.

We knew that Pinault’s art collection was one of the strongest, most unique and researched in the world, yet this opening exhibition which features artists Martha Wilson, Peter Doig, Luc Tuymans, Claire Tabouret, Ryan Gander, Marlene Dumas, Tarek Atoui, Pierre Huyghe and many more demonstrates it again.

The first work presented in the Rotonde is a spectacular piece by Urs Fischer which captivates people’s attention. Reminiscent of his inclusion in the Palazzo Grassi’s exhibition in 2012, Fischer conceived this piece specifically for the space. The work resonates with the iconography of the top frieze, beautifully painted in 1889, which decorates the circumference of the huge glass ceiling. At the heart of this spectacular room, Fischer’s work is a monument to impermanence. The composition includes nine burning wax sculptures: the life-sized replica of The Rape of the Sabine Women by Giambologna, the master of Mannerist sculpture; the effigy of one of the artist’s friends, the Italian painter Rudolf Stingel; a Monobloc garden chair, the most popular chair in the world; a standard office chair; a pair of economy class airplane seats; and four copies of chairs from the Musée du Quai Branly collection. The candles are slowly consumed, producing images of fervent beauty, until they disappear, here by evoking melancholy and the passing of time.

Other highlights in the exhibition includes Maurizio Cattelan’s Others installation featuring naturalistic pigeon sculptures, perched on the top of the Rotonde’s balconies. Viewers will notice them as they go up Ando’s dramatic landmark’s stairs overlooking his concrete circular walls contrasting with the ceiling frescoe. Like Hitchcock’s hordes of birds, Cattelan’s pigeons appear as humourous yet disturbing and illusional signals. They’re definitely meant to disrupt people’s peace.

The Peter Doig room is one of the strongest displays in the show. Red Canoe (2000) follows Doig’s discovery of Matisse’s Baigneuses à la tortue, with large fields of colour that connect abstraction to figuration. Just as Matisse sought ”serenity,” Doig seeks ”stability” in his summary of the scene. His works are marked by the power and the immensity of nature and its metaphysical strength. Inspired by German romanticism, Edward Hopper, Edvard Munch, and horror films, Doig paints nature untamed, strewn with traces: houses, canoes, silhouettes. Beneath their naive exterior, his canvases, painted from a reality altered by photography, shelter the remains of unsolvable enigmas.

The artistic scene in Paris seems to be buzzing at the moment and Pinault’s addition to the French capital is another reflection of this movement. The grand architecture and careful and unexpected curation, reaffirm how great a collector he is, as well as a reflector of our times.

Images: Lynette Yiadom-Boakye’s Vigil for a Horseman, 2017, part of the opening exhibition at the Bourse. Courtesy of the artist, the Galerie Tommaso Corvi-Mora, and the Bourse de Commerce – Pinault Collection. Photo: Aurélien Mole