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Esprit Urbain
Kourtney Roy
Manhole, 2017
Baryta colour inkjet print
60 x 90 cm

Esprit Urbain

Bruno Barbey » Édouart Boubat » Chervine » Thierry Cohen » Stéphane Couturier » Gail Albert Halaban » Léon Herschtritt » Simone Kappeler » Thomas Klotz » Youcef Krache » Jason Langer » Kourtney Roy » Stephen Shames » Takeshi Shikama » Louis Stettner » Arthur Tress » Michael von Graffenried » & others

Exhibition: – 18 Dec 2021

Galerie Esther Woerdehoff

36 rue Falguière
75015 Paris

+33(0)9-51 51 24 50


Wed-Sat 12-19

Esprit Urbain
Stéphane Couturier
Seoul, Tanji #06
C print, 2003
90 x 90 cm

"Esprit urbain"

Exhibition: 28 October – 24 December 2021

"The city exists as a mass and is scattered in seeds, in gramen, but what raises and rouses these seeds, touches them, makes them spin, is the luminous palpitation of the beings who walk through it, these are the paths themselves". Jean-Christophe Bailly

Each of the works in the exhibition "Urban Spirit" is like one of the seeds mentioned by Jean-Christophe Bailly: receptacles of germinating potential, urban experiences of ready to bloom.

Through the works of twenty-one artists, the exhibition poses the question of what the 'life' of a city is. Whether panoramic or fragmented, the image of urban space is constantly charged by life, even when humans aren't involved.

The city is a body, with a nervous system and limbs. Like every being, it is traversed by the paradox of being inhabited by stability as well as movement, identity as well as change. It is a plurality, a community of destinies and subject to the vagaries of the lives that inhabit it.

The exhibited works are inscribed in this confrontation with the other that is the urban space. Whether it provides the setting or subject of the work, the city is this mass of blurred and elusive contours with which we are confronted, including those that don’t live there. For the contemporary city is overflowing and constantly spreading according to an agglutinative logic.

Esprit Urbain
Louis Stettner
Promenade 1959, 1959
Silver gelatin print
29,5 x 44,5 cm

Therefore, "Urban Spirit" unfolds around works that capture the different ways of being in a city. From Beirut to New York, via Paris, Seoul and Algiers, cities tell their own stories and give us a glimpse of what drives them.

Under the lens of Stephen Shames in New York, the city becomes a playground for rebellious teenagers; Édouard Boubat immortalises the world of young children in a Parisian garden.

We dream big when contemplating the grace Louis Stettner captures. At other times, life unfolds in waiting, in retreat, as the city's inhabitants emerge timidly from the urban opacity, such as in the street scenes captured by Chervine. In Dinah Diwan's work, the city is cobbled together and adopts the contours of an emotional cartography.

Giving the city a chance to tell its own story also means allowing it to express itself in a confrontation with the radical nature of architecture. Whether buildings become pictorial motifs in the work of Stéphane Couturier and Youcef Krache, or lace the sky and the asphalt in the work of Jason Langer and Algimantas Kezys, they construct the syntax of urban space. Other artists, such as Kourtney Roy and Michael von Graffenried, depict the city as the theatre of absurd situations, in which humans are at odds with the urbanity that surrounds them.

The entry point into what makes a city pulsate can also take place through planes of glass of large bay windows, as is the case in the voyeuristic images of Gail Halbert Halaban.

The city can also be portrayed by revealing the invisible, when Thierry Cohen captures the light pollution that masks the stars above Paris.

At other times, the city suggests the possibility of escape. These few suspended moments, as Arthur Tress shows, seem to tell us that it is possible to escape from its tumult.

Esprit Urbain
Simone Kappeler
Los Angeles, 18.7.1981, 1981
Ilfochrome color print
80 x 120 cm
Esprit Urbain
Bruno Barbey
A painted pedestrian crosswalk in downtown Tokyo, Japan, 1985
Archival pigment print
50 × 60 cm
Edition 1/99
© Bruno Barbey, courtesy Galerie Esther Woerdehoff