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Franco-Swiss artist Valérie Favre's first exhibition in France since 2009 opens in Strasbourg
Installation view. Photo: © Mathieu Bertola, Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg.

STRASBOURG.- The First Night of the World is the Franco-Swiss artist's first exhibition in France since 2009. Held at the Strasbourg Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, it brings together Valérie Favre's most recent paintings and an impressive collection of over 200 drawings inspired by a reading of Maurice Blanchot's novel Thomas the Obscure.

Covering an area of some 600 m2, this exhibition by an artist whose work has rarely been seen in France introduces her recent work, mingling reverie and deep reflection.

In choosing "The First Night of the World" as the title for this important exhibition being held by the MAMCS, Valérie Favre (born 1959 in Bienne, Switzerland) has borrowed a phrase from Maurice Blanchot's Thomas the Obscure to describe a project owing as much to literature as to the theatre. Fascinated by this strange narrative, the artist has painstakingly undertaken to produce her own handmade copy of the book, illustrating it with ink drawings. With an exhibition layout designed by the artist herself, the resulting two hundred or so drawings combine to create an environment which shapes the core of the exhibition.

Bringing together some thirty paintings – all made in Berlin, where Favre lives and teaches at the prestigious Universität der Künste – the exhibition includes several large triptychs from a series the artist has titled Théâtres . These large-format paintings are equally impressive in their monumental proportions and the amazing scenes they depict. In a sombre but by no means humourless vein, Théâtres' bizarre parades or ships of fools conjure up a vision of the world's folly.

Working in series – Robes rouges (Red Dresses), the Lapines Univers (Universe Bunny Women) or Suicides are among the topics on which she has already composed numerous variations – Valérie Favre also presents several paintings that further cycles already in progress. These include Fragments, close to Victor Hugo's ink drawings but with an unexpected development and conclusion, Ghosts, inspired by Goya's Flight of the Witches, and the latest addition to Balls and Tunnels, an ode in praise of serendipity. The exhibition ends with a series of ink drawings where references to art history, literature and the contemporary world meet in a froth of lines and collages.

Exhibition Curators, Joëlle Pijaudier-Cabot, director, Museums of Strasbourg and Estelle Pietrzyk, director, MAMCS

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