June 21 2013
From Street Art to the Residence of “Les Bains”
Bringing back Les Bains Douches, the Parisian institution confirms its mythical reputation.
Turned into an ephemeral artists residency created by its owner Jean Pierre Marois, orchestrated by the gallerist Magda Danysz and communicated by Colombe de la Taille the building was under fire from an artistic tornado from January until the end of April all over its 3000m² space, before the refurbishment that will see this institution transformed into a luxury hotel.
On the occasion of the opening of the photo exhibition and the publishing of the book at the Magda Danysz Gallery in Paris, they are pushing play back on one of the most beautiful Parisian artistic initiatives ever created, the brainchild of John Pierre Marois that allowed the creation of these works, these atypical, oversized installations, and life-sized expressions by urban artists.
After taking the elevator, a few steps down the empty and abandoned hall, the surprise is full-on when you finally arrive at the nannies’ old rooms in the attic: paintings, posters and collages burst in showers of colour from the floor to the ceiling…a vibrant tribute to Jacques Villeglé by the collective 9è Concept which recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. As an echo to this reference, Jacques Villéglé came to sign the wall of the former night club in the basement with his own hand in his unique scribe in person…
From Villéglé, to Gérard Zlotykamien to Yz, to Sambre, to L’Atlas… they have appropriated themselves either a room, a space, a piece of wall or spread out over two floors like Sambre, from the ground to the ceiling to give free rein to their languages onto the wall of the inner courtyards of the building. “The space has created a huge attraction among artists…a mythical place that gives a “carte blanche” in the centre of Paris…!! I thought 10 artists might come to start with, then we had 50!” says Jean Pierre Marois.
It makes us believe the place is touched by the grace of creativity and suitable for the most varied and original artistic expressions. “It’s the space that generates the energy,” says Jean Pierre Marois. He gave the residents total freedom, even allowing Sambre to fully strip the wooden floor of an apartment, open a floor on the others and reconstitute it with these small floorboards creating a hollow sphere, a real human-sized nest in which a man can stand.
The space has obviously always been attracting artists. After being some famous public baths in the 19th century (from which it got its current name) – Proust was already frequenting it, it became one of the most prominent nightclubs in the world, as the club 54 in New York, for 40 years, until 2003 when the Guetta couple, who were at the helm, left. From Mick Jagger to Jean Michel Basquiat, Yves Saint Laurent, Joy Division and already Keith Haring, Warhol, and Basquiat to name a few, the establishment has seen all stars on the planet walk its halls as well as some contemporary artists of our time that were already making their mark on this iconic place.
The night club was then terribly mismanaged, and almost collapsed due to poorly advised work. Following an order of risk, it closed its doors in 2010 until Jean Pierre Marois and his family created the Société des Bains to transform the entire building into a hotel and perpetuate the magic of the place. The owner, himself artist – first and foremost a fashion photographer, a secondly a film director and producer – developed this project like a film maker would, “As if you acquired the rights of a book, you would find a writer to reinterpret it into film. Then the architects’ competition was carried out in the same way the search for a director would. This is a complex project just like a movie production.”
But that’s not to forget the spirit of this place that infuses this salvaging energy and that also inspired the owner to make this amazing artist residency before transforming it into a hotel, “the building was practically empty, clean and bare shelves that gave the place the sense of a ghost ship with a huge poetic charge. First I wanted to photograph the place in all its details but little by little I started thinking more of the Street Art expression whose DNA fits so closely with the identity of Les Bains, in concern to its transience.”
“The strength of this place is its history, its different cycles,” remarks the owner. A beautiful artistic transition before its final transformation into a luxury hotel.
Exhibition of photographs by Stéphane Bisseul and Jérôme Cotton, from June 22nd to July 27th 2013 at the Magda Danysz gallery.
A retrospective about the ephemeral artists’ artworks with daily photos of the in situ installations.
Magda Danysz Gallery, 78, rue Amelot 75011
Book “Les Bains, Résidence d’artistes”, by Editions Drago