Les Extatiques 2021

Les Extatiques at Paris La Défense

Les Extatiques 2021 visual file

For this 4th edition of the Extatiques, nine artists take over the esplanade of Paris La Défense, from the Takis Basin to the Agam Fountain, to help you discover the district in a new light.

Free exhibition in the public space (Esplanade de La Défense), open every day

The artists in the programme

  1. ALAIN PASSARD - Fouet [Whip]
  2. CYRIL LANCELIN - Cube Sphere Gold
  3. LUKA FINEISEN - Awakening
  4. TONY CRAGG - Senders
  6. JOHAN CRETEN - Why does Strange Fruit always look so Sweet?
  7. JEAN-FRANÇOIS FOURTOU - La maison couchée [The lying house]
  8. GHYSLAIN BERTHOLON - Rezilientia
  9. DANIEL ARSHAM - Bronze Eroded Bust of Zeus

Les Extatiques 2021 - map of the location of the artworks at Paris La Défense

1. ALAIN PASSARD - Fouet [Whip], 2021

Fouet [Whisp] Alain Passard Les Extatiques Juin 2021 © Martin Argyroglo


Born in 1956 in La Guerche-de-Bretagne, France. Lives and works in Paris, France.

Alain Passard grew up in a creative environment: his father was a musician, his grandfather a basket maker, his mother a seamstress and his grandmother a cook. Today, he is a three-star Michelin chef at the Arpège restaurant in Paris, and at the same time creates artistic installations. His genius is acclaimed worldwide and celebrated in Christophe Blain's album En cuisine avec Alain Passard (Éditions Gallimard). A chef and gardener, he removed red meat from his menu over fifteen years ago and grows his vegetables, flowers and roots in his gardens. For Alain Passard, the hand and the shape of the fingers form the basis of the artistic movement. For him, there is no break between culinary and artistic space: continuity is the key word in his creative process in the kitchen as in the foundry where he creates his sculptures. Cutting, preparing, presenting, cooking, chiselling, moulding, assembling... these gestures can be found in Alain Passard's collages, bronzes and stained glass. With the Lobster, his first bronze sculpture created in 1996, he immortalised his visionary gesture of cutting. Today, he is inspired by nature to awaken the taste buds and delight the eyes with boldness and innovation.

The artwork for Paris La Défense

"In the kitchen, the whisk is an astonishing object; it is an extension of the cook's hand. Whether it is to make a vinaigrette or to whip up a mayonnaise, it is always a very elegant, very precise movement. An extension of the fingers, mobile and light, it transcribes the suspended gesture of the hand. Alain Passard The Michelin-starred chef wanted to magnify this utensil by enlarging it to pay homage to it and to sublimate it. Installed in his garden, the whisk becomes a tree among trees, the handle a trunk and the branches blend in with the foliage. In Paris La Défense, the whip surprises, surprises and questions with humour the dizzying architecture of the towers. It reflects the hand that hides behind every creative gesture, but also subtly recalls the evolution of the district, with the establishment of numerous restaurants.

Fouet [Whip]
2021, painted metal
Courtesy Alain Passard

2. CYRIL LANCELIN - Cube Sphere Gold, 2021

Cube sphere gold Cyril Lancelin Les Extatiques Juin 2021 © Martin Argyroglo


Born in 1975 in Lyon, France. Lives and works in Lyon, France.

Cyril Lancelin develops a hybrid artwork composed of sculptures, immersive installations, drawings, virtual experiences and videos that weave links between the physical and the fictional. Whether ephemeral or permanent, his large-scale immersive art installations open a poetic dialogue between the perception of space and the viewer. Using a plastic vocabulary based on primitive geometry, he links architecture and the human body, the everyday and the functional, science and nature. His practice is shaped by immersion and movement, by the porosity of limits, by innovation, by the search for a half-data, half-real world. The notions of repetition and parametric generation are recurrent themes in his work. He anticipates our passage into a world of multiplied and shared data. The artist sets up a connected territory through a conceptual dialogue between his practices and the experience of the public.

Digital or real, his artwork offers an essentially optimistic vision, drawing an artificial and experiential landscape.

The artwork for Paris La Défense

On the Esplanade of Paris La Défense, Cyril Lancelin will present a decomposition of a simple volume, a cube. It is made of a regular assembly of reflecting metallic spheres. The solid is hollowed out by passages and openings. It is the three-dimensional drawing of a partition of fullness and emptiness. The artist invites the visitor to an immersion in the material. The sculpture connects the infinitely small and the infinitely large, the human scale and the scale of the city. It is a kinetic experience open to the public space.

Cube Sphere Gold
2021, electro-polished stainless steel
Courtesy Cyril Lancelin

3. LUKA FINEISEN - Awakening, 2021

Awakening Luka Fineisen Les Extatiques Juin 2021 © Martin Argyroglo


Born in 1974 in Offenburg, Germany. Lives and works in Los Angeles, USA.

A graduate of the Düsseldorf School of Fine Arts, Luka Fineisen notably took over the patio of the Maison rouge in 2012 with her installation Fluide parfait. Her artwork was presented in several institutions in Germany and South Korea in 2013. She is represented by the Galerie Papillon (Paris) where she presented her second solo exhibition in 2019. Defying the laws of gravity, Luka Fineisen pursues a research around space, matter and the body while making figures appear, which is an exciting approach for her. She creates a world that plays on contrasts, often all in black and white, both light and heavy, tender and raw. The person who enters becomes a figure in this space in which his or her body is confronted with the soft and the strange. By imagining floating, melting worlds, the artist wishes to make the impossible possible and to capture, above all, an instant of change, a matter in transformation, and thus preserve them with the aim of seizing the present moment so that it never disappears.

The artwork for Paris La Défense

Like an oversized cubic snow globe, Luka Fineisen's artwork Awakening is a poetic and playful invitation. Placed in the historical axis of Paris La Défense, it integrates with the surrounding architecture and offers the viewer a play of contrasts dear to the artist. In a minimal transparent container with an industrial appearance, a multitude of feathers vibrate to the rhythm of different pulsations and tell us about an awakening. It can be gentle and peaceful but also violent. But it always carries an energy that leads to a world oscillating between opulence and ephemeral sensuality.

2021, feathers, Plexiglas, blowers, timers, metal structure, 300 × 250 × 100 cm
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Papillon, Paris

4. TONY CRAGG - Senders, 2018

Senders Tony Cragg Les Extatiques Juin 2021 © Martin Argyroglo


Born in 1949 in Liverpool, UK. Lives and works in Wuppertal, Germany.

Tony Cragg began his studies at Gloucestershire College of Art and Design, before attending the Royal College of Art in London in 1973. From 1979 he taught at the Düsseldorf Academy of Art, where he became a professor in 1988 and received the Turner Prize. In 2001 he was appointed Professor of Sculpture at the Berlin Academy of Art. Since 1994 he has been a member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London and since 2002 of the Academy of Arts in Berlin. In 2007 Cragg was awarded the Praemium Imperiale and in 2009 he succeeded Markus Lüpertz as Rector of the Düsseldorf Academy of Arts (until 2013). In 2013 and 2014, Cragg taught at the Collège de France in Paris. Tony Cragg considers himself a radical materialist, constantly searching for new materials whose possibilities he explores and develops. He has frequently used techniques such as stacking, superimposing and piling up different types of waste and everyday objects, giving them an unexpected interpretation. These are reminiscent of natural geological forms, such as the sedimentation of mineral particles to create strata or the alteration of rock by the forces of wind and water. Recent artwork suggests movement and the ephemeral nature of the elements, as in his stainless steel forms that evoke the fluidity of molten metal.

The artwork for Paris La Défense

At Paris La Défense, Tony Cragg installed his artwork Senders. The verticality of this columnar sculpture evokes Constantin Brâncuși (1876-1957) in his unique approach to abstraction. The intention is not to copy or represent what exists, but to discover what ideas and emotions can be evoked through the use of new forms and materials. "Her artwork shows a vision of the human being established through its relationship to the environment [...] and the tools we use to shape the world" Lynne Cooke, 2003

2018, Fiberglass, 1400 kg, 650 × 290 × 250 cm
Courtesy Tony Cragg and Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, London Paris Salzburg Seoul


L'exposition dans l'exposition, l'extase Les Extatiques Juin 2021 © Martin Argyroglo


Once again this year, Les Extatiques will also include an "exhibition within an exhibition": a thematic, visual exhibition of reproductions of historical works of art, the purpose of which is to provide a narrative and explanatory context for the artwork presented in situ. This approach is almost non-existent in contemporary art exhibitions, since the selection of artwork is generally based on a principle of "free association". Fabrice Bousteau insists here on the need to give the public content, to contextualise, to offer a "review" of the "historical" perspectives and approaches. More than an accompaniment, it is an anchor where everyone can represent and appropriate these subjects.

6. JOHAN CRETEN - Why does Strange Fruit always look so Sweet? 1998-2015

Why does Strange Fruit always look so Sweet Johan Creten Les Extatiques Juin 2021 © Martin Argyroglo


Born in 1963 in Sint-Truiden, Belgium. Lives in Paris, France and works in Montreuil, France.

A precursor of the revival of ceramics in contemporary art, the artist Johan Creten has been working in an itinerant fashion for nearly forty years, from Mexico to Rome, from Miami to The Hague. He has exhibited in numerous international museums and art centres, including the Louvre and the Musée Eugène Delacroix in Paris, the Bass Museum of Art in Miami, the Istanbul Biennial, the MAMCO in Geneva, the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp, the Centre Régional d'Art Contemporain in Sète, the Beelden aan Zee Museum in The Hague, and more recently the Sculpture Park I Pilane in Sweden. A major monographic exhibition at the Académie de France in Rome - Villa Medici, entitled I Peccati (The Sins) was dedicated to him in 2021. With his innovative use of ceramics, Johan Creten began working with clay in the late 1980s, when the medium was still considered taboo in the contemporary art world. Famous for his allegorical sculptures in ceramic and bronze, notably the emblematic series "Odore di Femmina", Johan Creten has continued since the 1990s to depict a world full of poetry, lyricism and mystery. These underline the importance of beauty in his work, while reaffirming his humanist awareness and the social and political resonance of his practice. In his creative process, Johan Creten evokes "Slow art" and the need to return to introspection and exploration of the world with its individual and societal torments.

The artwork for Paris La Défense

For Paris La Défense, Johan Creten presents the artwork Why does Strange Fruit always look so Sweet? In 1999, while the artist was exhausting himself in the exhilaration of working with local craftsmen in Monterrey, Mexico, he fell ill, weakened. From his bed, he looked out the window at the date palms and their dark fleshy clusters. Fruits and infected ganglions mix in his imagination, he sees a body covered by these excrescences. Over a period of ten years, he produced several versions of this hallucinated vision, Why does Strange Fruit always look so Sweet? - the title of which evokes Bille Holiday's famous song Strange Fruit (1939) - in glazed terracotta and then in patinated and gilded bronze.

Why does Strange Fruit always look so Sweet?
1998-2015, patinated bronze, lost wax casting, partially gilded with gold leaf, 305 x 114.5 x 102 cm, 4/4 + 2AP
Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin

7. JEAN-FRANÇOIS FOURTOU - La maison couchée [The lying house], 2021

La maison couchée Jean-François Fourtou Les Extatiques Juin 2021 © Martin Argyroglo


Born in 1964 in Paris, France. Lives and works in Marrakech, Morocco.

Jean-François Fourtou graduated in 1992 from the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-arts de Paris. He has since been the subject of numerous solo and group exhibitions in institutional and private venues: at the MAMO (Marseille) in 2014, at the Meymac in 2015 and 2019, at the Villa Datris Foundation in 2019, in the "Fantastic" exhibition at lille3000 in 2012, at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sao Paulo in 2009 and at the Verrière in Brussels in 2003, among others. His latest solo exhibition, "How Nanitos are born", was presented in 2020 at the RX gallery in Paris.

The artwork for Paris La Défense

"On the Esplanade of Paris La Défense, one can discover a small popular house with a pointed roof, typical of the Paris region, but lying on its side. Despite its surprising position, everything will be intact, no apparent foundations or traces of destruction will be visible. The house will appear to be a giant toy in a huge city, and visitors' perceptions will be challenged. They will see, through large windows, all the furniture defying the laws of gravity, suspended on the side. Jean-François Fourtou

The reclining house
2021, 5 m high x 7.5 m wide
Courtesy of the artist

8. GHYSLAIN BERTHOLON - Rezilientia, 2019

Rezilientia Ghyslain Bertholon Les Extatiques Juin 2021 © Martin Argyroglo


Born in 1972, Lyon, France. Lives and works in Saint-Étienne, France.

"How to be an artist in the world without imposing a subjectivity ́ always uncertain, made up of outpourings and constant concern for the self? How to be there objectively without derogating from the conviction that the artist is standing, awake and that he must see and alert? Ghyslain Bertholon has asked himself all these questions with method and humour. In this process that leads a young man to the idea of inventing his own path, Ghyslain Bertholon very quickly imagined himself as a lookout, high up, solitary and united, placed there to announce the promised lands as much as the reefs. How to express all that which is serious without playing the pontiff and the declaimer? With a warm distance that is that of humour and a taste for life. François Barré

The artwork for Paris La Défense

The Rezilientia sculpture installed on the esplanade of Paris La Défense is part of the continuum of Ghyslain Bertholon's artistic concerns. "I have been working for more than fifteen years on the relationship of domination that Man has with his environment... which, by dint of abusing its resources, upsets the great balance. Rezilientia is a resolutely optimistic artwork, or rather desperately optimistic as I like to define myself. One day in November 2019, I sketched in my notebook a quick sketch of a burnt stump with an axe stuck in it, the handle of which seems to be coming back to life. At this time, the Australian continent is literally consumed by the flames of gigantic fires. Fauna and flora are swept away by the fire over thousands and thousands of hectares. Rezilientia takes up, in an allegorical way, the theory of Boris Cyrulnik, a French neuropsychiatrist, who in the 1990s popularised the concept of resilience in psychoanalysis, which consists of continuing to develop after a trauma, but differently. "Ghyslain Berthelon

2019, bronze sculpture, 135 x 65 x 56 cm edition 8 + 2 EA
Courtesy School Gallery / Olivier Castaing

9. DANIEL ARSHAM - Bronze Eroded Bust of Zeus, 2020

Eroded Bust of Zeus Daniel Arsham. Les Extatiques Juin 2021 © Martin Argyroglo


Born in 1980 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Lives and works in New York, New York, USA.

Through his work in sculpture, architecture, painting and video, Daniel Arsham's uchronic aesthetic evolves around the concept of fictional archaeology. Well known for his work in visually transforming objects from the last half-century into eroded artifacts, the artist explores the role of archaeology as a fictional narrative that allows for the collapse between past and present. In her sculptural work, eroded casts are painstakingly made from geological materials such as blue calcite, quartz and bronze. This gives the artwork the appearance of pieces that have just emerged from the earth after having been buried for centuries. In recent years, the artist has paid homage to the distant past, using moulds of classical and ancient objects from several European museums. Interested in the way these objects have passed through time, the artist selects pieces so emblematic that they have transgressed their status as art objects to become parts of the collective imagination. The present, the future and the past collide poetically in Daniel Arsham's haunted but also playful visions. He thus experiments with the timelessness of certain symbols and gestures across cultures.

The artwork for Paris La Défense

For Les Extatiques, Daniel Arsham presents the artwork Bronze Eroded Bust of Zeus (2020). The sculpture is inspired by an ancient Roman marble representing the mythological god, which is part of the Louvre Museum collection. Of the original artwork dating from the second century BC, only the head and torso are preserved. In the 1600s, extensive restoration work was carried out on the original known today as the Jupiter of Versailles. Arsham's sculpture represents the bust and profile of Zeus, cast in bronze and reworked with an antique patina. The artist breaks down the piece by adding crystallised erosions to the surface which take the form of polished bronze and polished stainless steel crystals.

Bronze Eroded Bust of Zeus
2020, bronze, patina, polished stainless steel, 193 × 112.4 × 136.5 cm, edition of 3 + 1 AP
Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin

Scroll to the top