A devotion to original artwork was something that really characterised Mandarin Oriental, Paris for me. The designer of the hotel, Sybille de Margerie, wanted to convey the unique East meats West vibe of the hotel by working with both French and International artists to produce one-off pieces for the hotel.
As you explore the hotel you come across beautiful works of art that are special and unique, all created by talented artists, many of which incorporating the signature icons of Mandarin Oriental, Paris. The butterfly motif appears on carpets, cushions, in the artwork and even fluttering around the walls of the spa. The fan is the symbol of the Mandarin Oriental Group and each hotel commissions its own fan that is unique for the property. Sybille de Magerie chose a talented artist from couture embroiderer, Maison Lesage to create the fan in Paris and it took 200 hours to fashion the creation out of velvet, glacé leather, sequins and pearls.
It seemed only natural that a hotel with such ties to the creative world would chose to take our group on an artistic tour of Paris.
We were joined by founder of Voie Privée, Stéphanie d’Aboville, a company that creates exclusive experiences and ‘behind-the-scenes’ tour that are often once in a lifetime opportunities. Stephanie led us to Le Marais, the heart of the city’s contemporary art scene, where we met Anais who would be our guide for a tour of the best galleries in the area.
We were first shown to the Musée de Las Chasse et de la Nature, for a gallery tour so exclusive that the exhibition hadn’t even opened yet and they were still setting up for it.
Here we met the American artist Mark Beard who explained to us how he has created a number of different personalities to reflect the different styles that he likes to work in. For example his alter ego ‘Brechtholdt Streetuwitz’ is an expressionist painter where as New York-based artist ‘Peter Coulter’ creates post-modern art. It’s slightly confusing but a fascinating concept that gives Mark great flexibility in his creativity.
Mark Beard also painted the mural that forms the centre piece in the interior of the Abercrombie and Fitch flagship store in New York and he has paintings and sculptures in Abercrombie shops all over the world.
Next we headed upstairs to see some of the permanent exhibitions at the museum.
There was so much to see in the museum; paintings, drawings, sculptures, tapestries, ceramics and weapons all of which represent the relationship between humans and animals through the ages.
But what was really striking were the stuffed animals, such as this giraffe which you could actually climb inside.
And this enormous and slightly scary polar bear!
My favourite exhibition was by Recycle Group at the Suzanne Tarasieve Gallery, and if you know about my obsession with social media you’ll see why. Recycle Group juxtapose images and symbols of modern technology with art that takes the appearance of ancient remains.
For example this piece ‘Consecration of the Servers’ shows priests blessing a row of servers, a reminder that worship of technology has replaced traditional powers and authority.
These wall hangings appear to be ancient stone but are actually recycled rubber ‘engraved’ with the terms and conditions of Facebook.
My favourite was this piece which combines social media symbols with an apparently ancient bust, perhaps showing us how the Internet has invaded our headspace. A dystopic image of the future that maybe bloggers should take heed of!
Next to the VNH Gallery and an exhibition called My Loneliness Shines by Friedrich Kunath.
I loved how the artist played with different perspectives and different medium of expression in his pieces.
The final gallery on the tour was Galerie Perrotin where we got a sneak preview of the upcoming exhibition.
This piece formed part of the exhibition entitled ‘The Hours Before’ by Jen Fänge. It was confusing to the eye, at first glance you can’t what’s flat against the wall and what’s 3D.
These statues represented contemporary music producers such as Brian Eno, Quincy Jones, Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams.
Feeling throughly cultured and enlightened we headed back to Mandarin Oriental, Paris to enjoy the spa and dinner at Sur Measure par Thierry Marx before falling into our cloud-like beds after a busy day. The next morning after a delicious breakfast and tour of the hotel’s best suites we met up with Stéphanie again who introduced us to our guide for the day, Eric Allart. Eric used to own a gallery on the Left Bank but now is using his design skills to create beautiful interiors, most recently for LK Bennett.
It was a very short walk from the hotel to the Tuileries Garden, the location of the PAD Art Fair. PAD, which stands for Pavillion of Art and Design, is an exhibition of contemporary art and design and we were lucky enough to be attending on the show’s 20th anniversary.
Many of the pieces blurred the line between what is home furnishing and what is design, for example the bronze rhino that is also a writing desk.
It was fantastic to have the benefit of Eric’s expertise in 20th Century art as he guided us around the exhibition pointing out beautiful pieces of note.
These incredible coffee tables, mirrors, sideboards and chairs really showed how you can turn your home into a work of art…
Though the pieces weren’t always practical, there was no denying the innovative designs and techniques that went into the creation.
Throughout the exhibition we saw local and international art, design and jewellery from the 20th and 21st Century choosing bit and pieces that we’d buy for our dream home. The PAD Art Fair comes to London in 2016 and will feature International galleries from Europe, North America and Asia showcasing modern art, design and photography.
This is my final post on my two day trip and the Mandarin Oriental gave us the most wonderful opportunity to experience Paris through food, art, design and spa. A huge thank you to the team at the hotel who provided the most incredible hospitality.
Do you have any favourite galleries in Paris? Have you been to the PAD Art Fair?
I was a guest of Mandarin Oriental, Paris on this trip. Our transportation was provided by Eurostar.
The Eurostar operates 21 daily services from London St Pancras International to Paris Gare du Nord with fares starting from £29 and journey times of 2 hours and 15 minutes. Tickets are available from www.eurostar.com or 03432 186 186.