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Michel Blazy at the National Museum of Monaco: the sublime meets the absurd in everchanging times

The New National Museum of Monaco welcomes to Villa Sauber the artist Michel Blazy. Born in Monaco, Michel Blazy has gained an international reputation thanks to integrating living materials into his art works. He creates an artistic universe, absurd and perishable and ever-changing. He uses humble materials, mixing inanimate objects with live organic products from his kitchen and garden. The whole effect is “animated” but strange and with a suggestion of movement. Three works are exhibited at Villa Sauber:

– Nature Molle [soft nature] (acquired by the NMNM in 2009), consisting of vegetables and fruit embedded in a flakey glue on a tablecloth made of the same material, invites you to follow the gradual transformation and then slow disappearance of the vegetables and fruit.

– Peau de Bete [animal skin] (NMNM Collection) is made from cotton on which have been applied several layers of chocolate cream dessert.

– Collection de Chaussures [Shoe collection] (co-produced by the NMNM and the Prince’s Government – Cultural Affairs Department for the last edition of the Venice Biennale) is a presentation of worn shoes in which plants grow. A luminous frame encircles the sculpture and an irrigation system allows the plants to grow.

Michel Blazy

“These boots were made for walking sang Nancy Sinatra” in her hit song of the 1960’s. So too were these shoes used in the absurd but thought-provoking art work “Shoe Collection” of Michel Blazy. They may have once been part of an AS Monaco Roca team victory on the basketball court but not anymore. Their role now is to challenge us to ponder this wonderful mix of the inanimate with the living. Is the message profound? Are we being challenged to think of the mass migrations in the world? Or is this more fun, defying us to think of amusing plays on words about foot-wear or humorous metaphors:

– grass may not grow under Usain Bolt’s feet but it does in Michel Blazy’s shoes!

– Michel Blazy puts his best foot forward with his latest work!

– Put your skates on Michel Blazy and be at the National Museum on time so you don’t start off on the wrong foot!

Somehow it is hard to think of Da Vinci being at home with this light-hearted master-piece set in an office etagere, growing, evolving, never the same from one hour to the next. Perhaps we can imagine Mona Lisa smiling, but surly not a change of mood every time we visit the Louvre. Classic art is constant. Michel Blazy is about everything but it would no doubt bring a twinkle to Salvador Dali’s eye or put a “spring in his step”, forgive the pun. Dali’s “melting timepieces” comes closer to Blazy’s concept of mutating art – though Blazy takes it a “shoe-step” further. Go from the sublime to the ridiculous or the ridiculous to the sublime as you wander around the rooms of the Museum. This conflict of emotions is what you must expect as next one comes across a Michel Blazy picnic table. There is one constant about Michel Blazy’s work, the combination of the inanimate and the living, the mutation of the art, never exactly the same visual moment repeated.

Michel Blazy

Here fruits are embalmed in a gluey coating attractively presented and they will slowly perish and change shape over time. We may be visually hungry, and it may tease the mind but it will not likely tickle your taste buds. The display can be replenished as the gooey and gluey fruit decomposes, Commissaire Celia Bernasconi expertly explains. Why not add some pineapple or kiwi on your next visit Michel? New challenges for a Museum of Art – masterpieces that need a renaissance! And in another room, more of a niche than a room actually, lies an alligator skin splayed out – alligator or crocodile? What is a vulgar piece of taxidermy – “Peau de Bete” – doing among art? The genius is in the materials – it is Michel Blazy again but this time the concept is more subtle in its disguise until you discover this is a blend of chocolate, cotton, tapioca and beetroot juice. Take away the cotton and it just might be tempting to take a bite. For the National Museum of Monaco it is not so surprising to come across art inspired by this subject. We are reminded in their pamphlet of Le Bestiaire from their 2000 collection, a work made from dog biscuits, of little dogs made from shaving cream, bears enrobed in chocolate, and crocodiles in gelatine. Tongue in cheek, because the Museum entertains and amuses as well as educates, we ask when the Museum will get its third Michelin star. And so HelloMonaco invites you to go and be amused, challenged, even provoked maybe. And certainly fascinated by the ingenious combination of lighting and water that feeds the office shoe-garden. Nature is certainly not natural here, not in any of this or the other two Michel Blazy works on display – but it lives on. Directeur Marie-Claude Beaud and her team will give you a warm welcome. We would like to be in their shoes with such delightful exhibits. And on January 25th, the inauguration will take place of these newly presented works by Michel Blazy and also by several other artists. Do plants prefer Nike or Adidas? Time alone will answer this absurd question posed by Monaco’s own Michel Blazy whose reputation grows with his plants.

Michel Blazy

Remember for this exhibition to go to National museum of Monaco at Villa Sauber which is just across from the Grimaldi Centre and not the twin location of the Museum at Villa Paloma near Jardin Exotique. Don’t you get off on the wrong foot!

You can visit Michel Blazy exhibition from Saturday 16 December to Sunday 18 March from 10 am to 6 pm in Nouveau Musée National – Villa Sauber.

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