Pressoir, fais-le, 2002. Vid.o couleur, 3 sec en boucle. © Adel Abdessemed
Courtesy de l'artiste et de David Zwirner, New York/London.
PARIS - In the very old days, the top collectors wanted to be comforted by their purchases. Now, they prefer shock value. And the French artist Adel Abdessemed fits right in to that paradigm.
His subject is the nexus of violence and history, and he often uses striking, large-scale installation to get the point across – as when he showed a huge smashup of snarling, taxidermy animals at his gallery, David Zwirner, this spring in New York (Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?).
Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?, 2011-2012. © Adel Abdessemed, ADAGP Paris, 2012. Courtesy de l'artiste et de David Zwirner, New York/London.
Based in Paris, the Algerian-born Adbessemed is having his biggest museum moment right now, in a big exhibition at the Centre Pompidou (Oct 3-Jan 7). “His work is full of dream-like transformations,” the show’s curator, Philippe Alain Michaud, told me. “It will be really spectacular.”
Who’s Afraid will be on view, as will Décor, 2011-12, which is a crucifixion sculpture – except that the figure of Jesus is made out of razor wire. “He considers all of history in terms of wars of religion,” says Michaud.
Décor, 2011-2012. © Adel Abdessemed, ADAGP Paris, 2012. Courtesy de l'artiste et de David Zwirner, New York/London.
And this kind of thing has collectors flocking – in 2010, the Wall Street Journal recorded financier Steve Cohen buying a $300,000 work of Abdessemed’s at Art Basel Miami Beach. Budi Tek, the Indonesian-Chinese agribusiness tycoon, has also collected various pieces, some of which will be in the Pompidou's lobby. Tek was an early supporter of Abdessemed's, and his interest has brought a lot of attention to the work from other Chinese collectors.