Isabelle Cornaro: LE MAGASIN--CENTRE NATIONAL D'ART CONTEMPORAIN DE GRENOBLE

Article excerpt

Just as some of the best recent French art is made by artists who live or have lived outside France, many of its best exhibitions take place outside Paris, in the provinces, where regional institutions subject themselves to risks that their more venerable metropolitan counterparts are unwilling to undertake. Isabelle Cornaro's stunning exhibition at Le Magasin is a case in point. Having passed through the Ecole du Louvre before studying with jean-Luc Vilmouth at the Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris and, through an exchange program, at the Royal College of Art in London, Cornaro carries an artistic passport typical of her generation. And while it does not necessarily distinguish her work to say that it cuts across the media of photography, film, painting, sculpture, drawing, and installation, her way of doing so is absolutely unique.

The exhibition in Grenoble was a mini-retrospective spread across five galleries, each containing what at first glance appeared to be a completely different project: an installation, Paysage avec poussin et temoins oculaires (version W (Landscape with Poussin and Eyewitnesses [version V]), 2012; two films, Floues et coloroes (Blurry and Colorful), 2010, and De l'argent filme de profil et tie trois-quarts (Money Filmed in Profile and Three-Quarters View), 2010; another installation, this time of vitrines, Le Proche et le lointain (Near and Far), 2011; a room of wall paintings and reliefs, Reproductions and Homonymes, both 2012; and another film, Premier reve d'Oskar Fischinger (First Dream of Oskar Fischinger), 2008. The enormous main gallery of Le Magasin, a former machine room designed by Gustave Eiffel for the 1900 World's Fair in Paris and subsequently reassembled in Grenoble for use as a factory, is a demanding--one could even say brutal--space. It is a testament to Cornaro's artistic intelligence that the piece she exhibited there, Paysage avec poussin et temoins oculaires (version V), looks as if Eiffel could have had it in mind all along. …