Breath of an Architect


Text by Chiara Berardi

Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain presents Breath of an Architect, an exhibition created especially for the institution by architect Bijoy Jain, founder of Studio Mumbai in India. The exhibition reflects a deep concern for the relationship between humans and the environment.

Bijoy Jain imagines the exhibition as a physical and emotional experience. Breath of an Architect is an invitation to breathe, wander in quietude and rediscover silence: the silence for the architect has a sound; we hear its resonance in ourselves and this sound connects all living beings, it is the breath of life. It is synchronous in all of us. Silence, time and space are eternal, as is water, air and light our elemental construct. Convening light and shadow, lightness and gravity, wood, brick, earth, stone, and water, the architect composes a sensory experience, in resonance with the materials. Crafted in rhythm with the breath and shaped by hand, the exhibition’s installation is composed of architectural fragments. Stone and terracotta sculptures, facades of traditional Indian dwellings, rendered panels, lines of pigment drawn with thread, bamboo structures inspired by tazias — funerary monuments carried on the shoulders in memory of a Saint during Shiite muslim processions — these transitory, ephemeral structures present a world that is both infinite and intimate and carry us to places both near and far. 

The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is imagined as a space inhabited by a civilization in movement of unknown time. An architecture conjured from water, air, and light, an alchemy between entities in exchange for their mutual affection and expression. Inside out – Outside in.

– Bijoy Jain

© Neville Sukhia
© Neville Sukhia
© Neville Sukhia
© Neville Sukhia

On a suggestion from Hervé Chandès, general exhibition curator and Fondation Cartier’s artistic managing director, Bijoy Jain has also invited Chinese painter living in Beijing HU Liu and Turkish-born Danish ceramist living in Paris Alev Ebüzziya Siesbye to join him in creating the exhibition. All three give the same importance to the ritual mastery of gesture, to resonance, and dialogue with material; everything on display shares the same ethics and sensibility. Hu Liu’s monochrome black drawings are created using graphite, repeating iterations of the same movement to reveal the essence of natural elements: grass caressed by the wind, the rolling of the waves, or the silhouette of tree branches, conveying a timeless solemnity. Alev Ebüzziya Siesbye’s ceramics are also the culmination of great skill and dexterity, as well as an intense dialogue with the clay, weightlessness in the experience of her work. 

Domaine de Beaucastel. ©Giacomo Monari.

As an architect it is about the consideration one gives to the making of things, about being immersive and attentive to the environment, the materials, and its inhabitants, in the possibility for space and architecture to be inclusive.

– Bijoy Jain

Photo ©Ashish Shah.

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