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59 Rivoli

January 20, 2015

Three weeks ago, I discovered the very colorful artists’ squat at the 59 rue de Rivoli. At the heart of Paris, this Haussmannian building houses a group of modern artists.

At the beginning, in 1999, the “KGB” (the trio Kalex, Gaspard Delanöe and Bruno) discovered this abandoned place (left by the national bank) and decided to settle there. A few days later, a lot of other artists came in the building. The city hall of Paris accepted not to expell them, nevertheless, they had to keep their workshops open for the public between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Today, this balance between the government and those artists still exists. Moreover, this is very impressive. Indeed, the outside of the building is always decorated with different creations made by the artists, changed each month.

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But the inside is just as impressive. The stairwell is entirely covered by paint, collage, knickknacks, recycled objects, sequins…

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You climb up the stairs and you arrive in front of a very colorful door with a lot of inscriptions on it : it is the ground floor.

Then, you can enter inside of the artists’ home, there are beds, kitchens and bathrooms… But especially some pieces of art everywhere: On the walls, on the ground. When you enter  another room, you are confronted with another artistic universe. All the artists are different : women, men, French or foreigners, young people, old people. In their image, all the artistic creations are diverse and heterogeneous : some collages, paintings, photographs, graffitis, personal drawings, frescos made with some pieces of ceramic…

There are two things which struck me : one room within which there is a huge and impressive mess.

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But it seems to be “an artistic mess”, with a lot of heterogeneous objects from everywhere. The second thing is an exhibition of little paintings made with hair, and, thanks to a play of light, you can see very beautiful shapes. Each floor is the discovery of a new universe, sometimes sweet ,funny or provoking. The artists are novice or experienced. For example, I met an Italian artist who made the Florence’s School of Fine Arts and he had all the points as well as the congratulations of the jury. In all, the building has about four or five floors and houses about twenty artists from all over the world. At the end of the visit, you can drink a glass of mulled wine or lemonade according to the season. (Almost) all the artists are very nice and welcoming, open-minded and happy to talk with you about their passion (or anything else).

If you don’t like to spend about five hours in a museum with pieces of art that you don’t like either, if you love art and feel free when you see it, 59 Rivoli is a place for you.

Céleste.

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