Category Archives: Paris

Friday the 13th

I don’t know where to start. I am probably still shocked with what happened last week Friday, November 13, 2015. It was a typical Friday, I was invited by a friend to hang out, have late lunch and some apero in a brasserie around the corner. We were sitting outside on the terrace having our wine when she asked me, “Do you know it’s Friday the 13th?” I answered “Yes, But did you know that it’s statistically safer to be on the streets because more people are careful of accidents.” Little did I know I will have to swallow the words that came out of my mouth a few hours after.

I was watching the friendly football match between France and Germany when it was cut right away to some breaking news where 18 people have died. I wasn’t paying much attention and decided to sleep. I was awaken by a call and never-ending messages from friends and family. The incidents have gone worse, more than 100 people have died because of several attacks. I cannot believe I woke up to this. I then tried my best to reply and call back. After reading some news, I cannot help but tell myself, “It could have been me.” The suicide bombings took place just outside the stadium where we watch football or rugby match, and even concerts. The series of shootings happened a few blocks from where we just celebrated a friend’s birthday just last week. The massacre was in a concert hall was were I watched for the first time my favourite artist .

The more I think about it, the more I realize how much better we have it here. We live freely, have entertainment, dine at restaurants or simply spend time with our friends and loved ones. A lot people do not have this luxury and have been living in fear their whole lives.

So in solidarity with Paris, France, my adoptive city, I changed my profile photo with a French flag filter. It was my way of saying I am against the atrocities that happened. I continue to read and watch news and a few days ago I saw that France had launched airstrikes against ISIS in Syria. The first thing that I thought of was that they will definitely fight back and more terrorist attacks will happen. But on second thought, there are civilians who are definitely affected by these airstrikes and have been killed not because they were the target but merely casualties of this retaliation. Innocent lives were lost so how then are these attacks any different? Is it to protect the country? Or to show power?

Violence breeds more violence as much as hate breeds more hate.  I don’t think this cycle will never stop as long as we let ourselves get sucked down into this pit of quicksand. For this reason, I changed back my profile photo. I could have changed it to another flag but I do not think I can represent all countries in turmoil. Just take this change as a representation  my resistance to more violence and my hope for a better and peaceful world.

JY

You are More Beautiful than You Think : La Mécanique des Dessous

I honestly am particularly a little bit insecure about my physical attributes and to some extent maybe most of women do have insecurities. This is not to promote a certain brand but Dove, about 6 months ago, had this campaign of how women generally project themselves. Here’s a short clip.

In a way, this video has made me think about myself more and appreciate what I have, and going to the exposition at Les Art Décoratifs reinforced this. The exhibit was primarily how the undergarments evolved. How from steel frames changed to corsets to the modern day brasserie. What’s interesting is that the undergarments had a subtle way of showing that through time, the notion of women’s freedom and beauty evolved.  As time progressed, there were less constraints on the body which also paralleled how women had more choices and power over themselves. The ideal body also adapted with society: from voluptuous to straight to more hips to straight again to curvy and to a slim figure.  It is how society perceive as beautiful which has in a way provided a standard of looks. They have imposed what is beautiful and anything out of the set of guidelines are thought to be unattractive. In a way this promotes frustrations and discontentment in how they, or shall I say, “WE”, perceive ourselves because we naturally want to belong to our society. Consequently, we also tend to forget that beauty is relative. As seen in the exhibit, it changes over time. It even changes with society. HECK, it even changes per person. What for me is beautiful is different from yours. So the next time you think you’re not skinny enough, not tall enough or not “whatever” enough, just remember that in another time or a different society, you are the most beautiful of them all. Chin Up Girl!:) LOL #GirlPower (sorry, I just had to hash tag it.)

Here is a short video on the exhibition since photos were not allowed inside.

Denis Bruna vous présente l’exposition “La… by LesArtsDecoratifs

From 5 July 2013 to 24 November 2013

Les Art Décoratifs

107 rue de Rivoli  –  Paris 1er

Let time take its time: Les Gobelins Cultural Visit

2007 was my first time here in this city. I was 19 and I barely knew anything about art. I would go to the Louvre and see all those tapestry and say to my self “What beautiful carpets they have here!” Yes, I said that to myself.  I was naive and didn’t know about culture. But now that I know better, let me share a thing or two about tapestry from our cultural visit in Les Gobelins.

The workshop from the outside.

Les Gobelins used to be a large community where artisans worked. The artisans basically lived in the world of tapestry. They had everything they need in the area such as residence, shops, etc.  As the times changed, Les Gobelins became a manufacturing complex and museum as it is today. Our class was privileged enough to have access to the actual workshop but photos were not allowed inside.

Tapestry in its most technical description is weaving coloured weft threads using a vertical loom. It starts out as a concept that is rendered in to a small artwork. This is then projected that will be used as a guide for the artisans to weave the colors accordingly. They basically work on the wrongside of the tapestry. You’ll see spools of colored threads hanging from the huge roll of warp that acts as the background or like a canvas to a painter.  As they weave the threads, they use a mirror to see their progress if the colors blend well and if the original concept is followed.

Threads they use are either naturally or synthetically colored. At Les Gobelins, they have a separate building to dye their own threads. They use different dyes both natural and synthetic. From a collection of thousands of colors, they still continuously add new ones as needed.

The whole process takes at least two (2) to as much as six (6) years to complete; from concept, to dyeing and to the actual weaving. It requires a keen attention to detail, hard work, and patience.

The final products that you see in museums usually look like these. These were used by the royalties to decorate their chateaux and like any other form of luxury, to manifest their authority. They commissioned artists to create tapestry and thus the industry flourished.

Tapestry to show how the kingdom flourished in spring time.

Today, they continue creating tapestry primarily to preserve the workmanship or savoir-faire. The creations are not the usual ones you see in the museums. What they create now are, but not limited to, contemporary art, graphic images, and recreation of classics. What’s interesting is that artisans will have a different output even if the design is basically the same. So they may have different versions of Monet’s Waterlilies like this is one below.

Monet’s Waterlilies

Few of my favorites are these because they are definitely products of pure hardwork and excellent craftsmanship.

Pixelized. Drastic change huh?
Abstract.
And its wrong side. Just look at the number of colors they used.

This one below would be my favorite.  It does not look like tapestry at all. The artisan was able to capture the characteristics of a brush stroke with different color intensity and blending. If you can see the small splash marks on the lower right, those used at least 10 colors just to have a natural effect. The technique in the spacing and application it is just pure genius. I just fell in love with it.

I don’t think I will ever be in this industry but its very interesting to be exposed to this kind of craftsmanship. And almost always, craft-making provides a life lesson. There are things in life that we can rush such as Instagram. The very title is to instantly record something. Get an existing photo, crop, filter and VOILA! For some, it’s already art. However more often than not, the things we treasure the most are those that we have worked hard for.  As they say, there are no shortcuts to success, in the same way that masterpieces like these are not realized in 5 seconds. You just got to let yourself and time take its time because in the end you’ll know it is definitely worth it.

JY

Disclaimer: All photos are used solely for my personal interpretation and reflection and are not to be reproduced or reused.

Try and Try and Try Again: Roy Lichtenstein Exhibit

Who doesn’t know Roy Lichtenstein? If you don’t maybe you should start Googling him or just search for pop art and his name should come up.  In any case, I went to the Roy Lichtenstein Exhibit exactly a month ago. (Obviously, I have backlogged in my diary writing). It was interesting to see his famous works, up close and personal like the “Whaam!” and the “Oh Jeff, I love you too, but…” It was a vast collection that also featured paintings of political figures and sculptures.

…But whaaaat?
Mao Ze Dong
Some of his sculptures

What I didn’t know was that he also recreated some of the famous paintings of Mondrian, Van Gogh and Picasso. So you can see the famous artworks rendered in ben-day dots. What I found interesting was that he created all these by mere hand. It almost seemed like there was some sort of printing involved. Like any other artist, he would start from a smaller depiction of the actual size; decides what colours he liked and makes changes along the way. But what sets him apart is that if there was a thing that he thought should be changed, he would cover it up with another layer and start all over. It was practically the same technique as Photoshop that uses layers, only this time it was done manually. He would do it again and again. Try and try again until it was perfect for him. He wanted it as if it looked programmed, with no trace of human involvement.

Perfection.

So my point here is that even artists with talent still put in a lot of hardwork. Nothing comes easy.  So you and I (#notetoself) must always remember that we should not stop trying, as cliché as it may sound. We should continue and strive for the better to achieve what we want in life. To quote more cliché sayings, “It’s the mistakes that make us a better person” and “It’s not how many times you fall down, but how many times you get back up.”

‘Nuff said.

If you’re interested to see the Roy Lichtenstein Exhibition, it’s located at the Centre Pompidou. Still ongoing and will end on 4 November 2013. Click here for more details.

JY

Disclaimer: All photos are used solely for my personal interpretation and reflection and are not to be reproduced or reused. Copyright remains with the owners of these photos. 

Good Things Come to Those Who Wait: Journée du Patrimoine

2013 was the year of waiting, for me at least. I have waited for almost every major life event that happened this year. I waited for the right time to resign. I waited for the results of my program application. But, I wouldn’t be able to attend the program if not for the scholarship grant, so I waited for the results. Eventually, I then waited for my last day at work which was 6 months after I tendered my resignation. Finally, I waited for the day of my flight.  Although this wasn’t really the end of the waiting game.

Yes, I did a lot of waiting, but each of these made a big impact on my life. It will be too long for me to explain so let me just get to the point, sort of.

So every year, they have this thing called Journée du Patrimoine (Heritage Days) wherein historical spots, museums and the like open their doors to the public for free. Some of the most famous sites visited are the Palais de l’Elysée (Like the Malacanan for the Filipinos or White House for Americans) and the Sénate. Coming from a country where there are almost close to none investments or priority in the arts, I wish we had something like this as well. I still believe that our culture is as rich as the French. It’s just that only a few really bother to preserve it.  That’s another story or probably post. 

For that weekend (September 14-15, 2013), My classmates and I decided to go to the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent.  They opened the office and the studio where Saint Laurent worked. Unaware of what to expect, there was a long line. We waited for an hour and decided to just move on and leave the queue since there were people making us leave anyways.

The Waiting Game.

I was decided that I wanted to go, so I went back the next day to visit. I waited again, not just an hour but 3 hours. Props to my friend for sticking up with the waiting even if he had no direct interest in fashion since he was taking his masters in Public Affairs.

It was so surreal to enter the building, all the waiting made me feel that way, I guess.  Taking photos were not allowed and since I’m not a very descriptive person here’s a photo of the hall where they attended to clients.

http://www.fondation-pb-ysl.net/en/Private-events-615.html

We then headed to the office where my jaw dropped because of the number of Andy Warhol paintings. There was a painting of Marilyn Monroe, but it wasn’t just your usual four-frame-portrait; it was made of like 20 or more. On right side was a handwritten note which says “For Pierre and Yves.” There was more written there but I my memory is failing me. It might have said something like congratulations on your new home or something like that.  There was another Warhol painting hanging inside a hall that seemed like a boardroom. This painting is the larger-than-life portrait of Yves.

Eventually we were brought to the studio where Yves (yehessss first name basis!), worked. There were samples in canvas, samples of dresses he made including the Mondrian and a very elaborate jacket made of intricate beadwork that was shaped into some sort of floral patterns. I can imagine the time, patience and hardwork put to finish that jacket.  It was so eyecatching and elegant. The guide told us that they don’t usually bring the clothes out because they have a special storage in which temperature is maintained to avoid disintegration. There were also compilations of the sketches, all of which are stored in their archives.

I’m also assuming that Andy and Yves were really really really close because even Yves’ dog had a portrait done. If you can see the that yellow with dog portraits in the background, that’s what I’m talking about.

https://i0.wp.com/www.phaidon.com/resource/highres-00007975.jpg
Yves Saint Laurent, with his bulldog Moujik, working in his Paris studio on his final collection, 17 January 2002
Alexandra Bout
http://www.phaidon.com/agenda/photography/picture-galleries/2011/september/13/yves-saint-laurent-the-final-show-archive/

In any case, I thought it was an enriching to visit the office and the studio where most of the creative juices flowed and materialize into an actual clothing. It was like stepping into his own world and even just for a few minutes I was able to experience it. I had to get something that will remind me of this experience. So I got a booklet and this post card with a quote from Yves:

“Nothing is more beautiful than the naked body. The most beautiful clothes that can dress a woman are the arms of the man she loves. But for those of have not yet had the chance to find this happiness, I am here.”

So I would say, that visiting this place is worth it and it reminded me of the value of waiting and accepting what you have right now.

JY

Further Reading and Sources:

1. http://www.paris.fr/english/visit/highlights/journees-du-patrimoine-heritage-days/rub_8208_stand_34125_port_18969

2. http://www.metronews.fr/culture/journees-du-patrimoine-dans-le-studio-d-yves-saint-laurent/mmil!ocjwY58sxZM6/

Grand Paris

There’s more to “Paris” than your usual touristy places. As one might know, it is situated in Île-de-France which literally means island of France or centre of France as it hosts the country’s capital.  Just a short lesson on history, Haussmann was commissioned in 1850-60’s to update Paris’ old look and modernize the city. This meant that some buildings were reconstructed, destroyed or rebuilt according to his aesthetic. Part of his plan was to make sure that the buildings had uniform height and similar windows. On a positive note, he updated the look of Paris and made the city organized from chaos and filth. Unfortunately, there were buildings and churches that were forced to be demolished as it did not deem beautiful enough for Haussmann. Legend has it that there were more beautiful cathedrals, far cry from the Notre Dame. He created the “new and improved” Paris while simultaneously “destroying” the old Paris.

So what’s the point of all this blabbering about Haussmann? It’s to point out that there were really interesting architecture in the city that were destroyed. Take for instance an interesting suburb of Paris called Sèvres, southwest of the region and about 30 minutes away.

I was required to visit a doctor for my Student Social Security and through a relative/friend here, she brought me to their family doctor from Sèvres.  If not for that, I would have not been able to see this awe-inspiring place. As seen from the photos, it has very  interesting structures and house. Although very different from each other, it had a different feel and aura if I may say.

(Just to digress a little bit, yes we have this medical insurance which makes all medical expenses reimbursible. Coming from a developing country, that’s one of the coolest thing being a student here aside from special discounts.)

Fast forward to today, thanks to former president Sarkozy, he initiated this plan of developing the cities outside Paris. He coined the term Grand Paris (Greater Paris) which includes very interesting areas including Versailles and La Defense, to name a few. In a few years time, new transport services will be developed for more efficient traveling to and fro the greater Paris.

Now, if you are visiting Paris and have more than enough time. Take time also to visit the “outside” cities. 🙂

JY

Sources: History of Paris Classes, Wikipedia and heresay. :))