Opening

Wet Paint in the Wild: Artist Monsieur Zohore Rode Out His L.A. Gallery Opening Inside a Bespoke Coffin-Turned-Kissing Booth


Welcome to Wet Paint in the Wild, the freewheeling—and free!—spinoff of Midnight Publishing Group News Pro’s beloved Wet Paint gossip column, where we give art-world insiders a disposable camera to chronicle their lives on the circuit. To read the latest Wet Paint column, click here (members only).

Monsieur Zohore’s absurd, irreverent artwork tends to steal the show wherever it’s on view. While the artist is best known for his paintings on paper towels and his confrontational, campy performances, Zohore’s work often makes people laugh at first, then realize that these pieces are searing satires of deeply troubling racial realities in America.

His new show at M+B in Los Angeles, “My Condolences,” is a satire of the outsized trend of figurative painting by Black artists in the art market. The artist asked 93 different artists to paint, while at the opening, Zohore lied in a handmade casket and asked viewers to kiss him through a cut-out in the wood (it’s on view now through February 18th). Let’s take a look at what that process was like…

Bonjour, je m’appelle Monsieur Zohore and welcome to the installation of my most recent show “MZ.25 (My Condolences)” at M+B in Los Angeles. Putting a show together with 93 artists in it was an all-hands-on-deck kind of situation. Even my gallerist, Benjamin Triggano, was doing construction work.

A lot of people thought I had a death wish when I told them I was trying to get 93 artists to make portraits of me, to which I would respond “No, I have a death wish because my contribution to the show is a coffin that is also a kissing booth.”

If all of this wasn’t enough chaos I decided to crank out a few more of my paper towel paintings just for shits and gigs.

A long day wouldn’t be complete without a long dinner with my two favorite French clowns, Benjamin Triggano and Olivier Babin. Meals with them are always dinner and a show.

Planning meetings with Tess from the gallery all took place at a Lisa Vanderpump establishment because why not? You know you would too if you could. Here we are in front of Sur.

This was the most innovative install I have ever experienced. Benson from the gallery had a solution for every problem, like how to reheat pizza at lunch.

A show of 93 portraits meant 93 sittings. Here I am after posing for Marianne Simnet at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Closed out this day with a bougie sushi dinner with Cameron Patricia Downey, who flew in from Minneapolis for the show.

Back at the gallery on the last day of install and it’s go big or go home, like this massive Fawn Rogers video sculpture. Pro Tip: Track suits from Target make your ass look great.

Had to move the studio outside…for my hangover after having too many bougie sushi martinis at dinner last night.

But here comes my bestie Jo Messer to the rescue. She always knows exactly what I need to get through the day.

Install is finally over and I go look for a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T with LaKela Brown.

You haven’t lived till you give a lecture in a coffin you built for yourself.

I never thought my last supper would be vegan tacos in L.A. with Sandy Williams IV, Aaron Fowler, LaKela Brown, and Claude Wampler, but I can’t say I mind.

Claude Wampler told me It’s bad luck to not buy a new outfit for your opening so we had to go shopping.

And it’s even worse luck to not have you fit cosigned by the baddest chick in the room. Thank god Chiristina Ine-Kimba Bolye waltzed in just in time.

I hope you didn’t think I was kidding when I said I built myself a coffin that is also a kissing booth.

Could have done this piece all day. My only regret is not charging for the privilege of my smooches.

Performance is over and it’s finally time to party. Nicole Nadeau and Jade Catta-Preta gas me up as I wait for my celebratory special chocolate to kick in.

My chocolate finally hits and I decided to spend the rest of my opening rolling around on the floor. Thank god Lucy Bull was down.

Who else would you want driving the getaway car than Auttriana Ward in this wig! My mind on chocolate could not be more pleased!

Not sure who took this picture but bless them for making sure I looked my best.

Nothing is better for a hangover than gossiping with Claude Wampler over lobster.

This was my first time going to the beach in L.A. and I have to say it was worth the wait… even if I had to simulate my own death to get there.

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Dealer Francois Ghebaly Is Opening a Second Space in L.A., Joining a Growing Throng of Galleries in Hollywood


Veteran Los Angeles dealer Francois Ghebaly is expanding into a new space in Hollywood.

Next week—not coincidentally just ahead of the latest edition of Frieze Los Angeles—he will open a his second gallery in a raw, un-renovated space, left “as we found it.”

“I was looking for spaces and I came across one that was perfect for us,” Ghebaly told Midnight Publishing Group News. The dealer previously operated galleries in L.A.’s Chinatown and then Culver City in the early aughts. For the past decade, Ghebaly has run a space in downtown L.A. “We’ve been downtown about 10 years. We have a wonderful space and community there and it’s been very successful. We love what we’ve done there.”

The facade of Francois Ghebaly's new space in Hollywood. Image courtesy Francois Ghebaly.

The facade of Francois Ghebaly’s new space in Hollywood. Image courtesy Francois Ghebaly.

“We’re not moving away, we’re expanding,” he said of the new Hollywood locale, which is situated off of Santa Monica Boulevard, on Poinsettia Drive.

“We are going to have a wonderful gallery that kind of keeps the spirit of our downtown gallery.” Both spaces are housed in 1940s-era buildings with brick facades.

Ghebaly said the new site is “basically the very beginning of West Hollywood, so my immediate neighbors are Karma and Nino Meier, and right down the street from Jeffrey Deitch and Matthew Brown.”

Sharif Farrag, Bodach, (2019). Image courtesy the artist and Francois Ghebaly.

Sharif Farrag, Bodach, (2019). Image courtesy the artist and Francois Ghebaly.

The gallery will open with a show of work by Patrick Jackson, and then will shut down for a while. Ghebaly is in conversation with several architects about the space, but hasn’t decided what route he will take.

When the gallery reopens, it will be with a solo show from Sharif Farrag, a young L.A.-based artist. Farrag’s fantastical ceramic sculptures feature a mashup of imagery including body parts, cigarettes, pop-culture cartoon references and imagery from graffiti and skater culture as well as his Syrian-Egyptian heritage. “He’s been building on an incredible body of work,” said Ghebaly.

Patrick Jackson, Heads, Hands and Feet, (2011). Installation view, "Made in L.A. 2020: A Version," The Huntington, Los Angeles, CA.

Patrick Jackson, Heads, Hands and Feet, (2011). Installation view, “Made in L.A. 2020: A Version,” The Huntington, Los Angeles.

Los Angeles is “such an ever-changing city and there is a very exciting group of galleries and a great community that is developing in Hollywood,” Ghebaly said. “L.A. is such a large, wide city that there are many cities within L.A. itself. In Hollywood, something very exciting is happening right now, and I felt like it would be interesting to be a part of it.”

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Cairo Literally Paraded Ancient Royal Mummies Through Town to Mark the Opening of a Long-Awaited Egyptian Civilization Museum


Cairo celebrated the long-awaited opening of its National Museum of Egyptian Civilization with a procession of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies, transporting them across the city to their new home, where they will go on view later this month.

Safely moving the millennia-old remains was a multimillion-dollar affair that involved building special shock-absorbent vehicles as well as repaving the roads along the route to ensure a smooth ride. To maintain optimal preservation conditions, the mummies were put into oxygen-free nitrogen capsules for the duration of their journey.

Each of the 18 kings and four queens had their own gold and blue car, designed to look like the pharaonic boats used to transport ancient royals to their tombs, and featuring the winged sun symbol used by the pharaohs.

The carriage carrying the mummy of Queen Tiye, wife of Amenhotep III, advances as part of the parade of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies Photo by Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images.

The carriage carrying the mummy of Queen Tiye, wife of Amenhotep III, advances as part of the parade of 22 ancient Egyptian royal mummies Photo by Khaled Desouki/AFP via Getty Images.

The three-mile parade started at the Egyptian Museum near Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo. Egyptian authorities spent months preparing for the event, dubbed the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade, which involved horse-drawn chariots and hundreds of performers in ancient-style garb.

Although the new museum aims to recapture some of the tourism lost in recent years due to political unrest and the pandemic, there were no crowds on hand to watch the spectacle. The parade route and the surrounding streets were closed for security measures and locals were told to watch the televised broadcast. The filming was orchestrated to block views of impoverished communities with banners, flags, and temporary barricades.

Customized vehicles for transferring mummies leave the Egyptian Museum during the Pharaohs' Golden Parade in Cairo, Egypt, on April 3, 2021. Photo by Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua via Getty Images.

Customized vehicles for transferring mummies leave the Egyptian Museum during the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade in Cairo, Egypt, on April 3, 2021. Photo by Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua via Getty Images.

“There is a tendency to try to show a better picture instead of fixing the existing reality,” Ahmed Zaazaa, an urban planner, told the New York Times. “The government says they are making reforms, but the vast majority of people in Cairo who live in working-class neighborhoods are excluded.”

The chronologically themed procession started with Seqenenre Taa, who reigned as the 17th dynasty’s last ruler during the 16th century BC, and ended with 12th century BC pharaoh Ramses IX, of the 20th dynasty.

The most famous pharaohs in the parade were Ramses II, of the 19th dynasty, who led the New Kingdom in the 13th century BC, during its most powerful period, for 67 years, and Queen Hatshepsut, who ruled as the second female pharaoh, during the 18th dynasty in the 15th century BC. All the mummies were originally excavated in the 19th century from the Valley of Kings and nearby Deir el-Bahri.

After about 45 minutes, parade ended in front of the new museum with a 21-gun salute, greeted by Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sissi, who had inaugurated the main hall earlier that day.

The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, Cairo.

The National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo. Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, Cairo.

Intended as a nationalist event celebrating Egyptian history, the parade “expresses the greatness of the ancient civilization that provided humanity, and still does, with a unique and diverse legacy, contributing to its progress and prosperity,” wrote Intisar al-Sissi, Egypt’s first lady, on Facebook.

Egypt began building the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in 2002, and the project has faced numerous delays. It began welcoming visitors to view its 1,500 artifacts yesterday. The mummies will be on view in the museum’s royal hall of mummies beginning April 18. Until then, entry to the museum is half price.

See more photos of the parade and the new museum below.

Specially designed vehicles transport 22 mummies in a convoy from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, during the Pharaohs' Golden Parade in Cairo, Egypt on April 03, 2021. Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Specially designed vehicles transport 22 mummies in a convoy from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, during the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade in Cairo, Egypt on April 03, 2021. Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

People in ancient Egyptian outfits perform during the Pharaohs' Golden Parade in Cairo, Egypt, on April 3, 2021. Photo by Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua via Getty Images.

People in ancient Egyptian outfits perform during the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade in Cairo, Egypt, on April 3, 2021. Photo by Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua via Getty Images.

An artist in old traditional costume rides a horse-drawn carriage as specially designed vehicles transport 22 mummies in a convoy from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, during the Pharaohs' Golden Parade in Cairo, Egypt on April 03, 2021. Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

An artist in old traditional costume rides a horse-drawn carriage as specially designed vehicles transport 22 mummies in a convoy from the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir Square to the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization, during the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade in Cairo, Egypt on April 03, 2021. Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

People visit the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo, Egypt, April 4, 2021. Photo by Sui Xiankai/Xinhua via Getty Images.

People visit the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo, Egypt, April 4, 2021. Photo by Sui Xiankai/Xinhua via Getty Images.

People visit the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo, Egypt, April 4, 2021. The main hall of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization NMEC contains 1,500 artifacts and was open for visitors on Sunday, while the mummies hall will be opened on April 18 to coincide with the International Day for Monuments and Sites, also known as World Heritage Day. Photo by Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua via Getty Images.

People visit the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo, Egypt, April 4, 2021. Photo by Ahmed Gomaa/Xinhua via Getty Images.

People visit the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo, Egypt, April 4, 2021. Photo by Sui Xiankai/Xinhua via Getty Images.

People visit the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization in Cairo, Egypt, April 4, 2021. Photo by Sui Xiankai/Xinhua via Getty Images.

Pharaonic artifacts displayed at the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. Photo by Jonathan Rashad/Getty Images.

Pharaonic artifacts displayed at the new National Museum of Egyptian Civilization. Photo by Jonathan Rashad/Getty Images.

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The Polarizing Collector Stefan Simchowitz Is Opening His Own Gallery in a Bid to Take Down Art-Market Elitism


Stefan Simchowitz has been described as many things: advisor, collector, flipper, the “Art World’s Patron Satan” (in the New York Times), and Sith Lord by critic Jerry Saltz.

“Why not polemicist?” wondered the multi-hyphenate as we sat inside the gallery he just opened on Beverly Boulevard in Los Angeles. “I like to discuss ideas,” he said, “and systems. I’m interested in deconstructing; why a system functions the way it does.”

And it’s the very systems of the art world that Simchowitz seems to enjoy deconstructing the most. In his over-the-top way, he has long broken with the norms and ethics that govern collecting and dealing, including literally cutting up artists’ work to resell in greater quantities, and aggressively persuading young artists to sell him large bodies of work for cheap. Now, Simchowitz has done the unthinkable, at least for him: He’s opened an ordinary, brick-and-mortar art gallery.

“In the past decade I’ve built the engine,” he said. Now, he needed to “put a frame on it because it’s been impossible for me to explain what I do. I just wanted a real simple entry point so that people could be like, ‘Oh, he’s got a gallery, he supports artists,’ because basically everyone understands that. It’s like feeding a baby a steak, you start off with the pea, and that’s how your baby starts to eat. This simplifies the story for public consumption.”

Simchowitz’s Hollywood background—he was a producer on numerous films, most notably Requiem for a Dream—comes into play at the gallery, which feels like a key piece in the puzzle that makes up the narrative of his career. “One hundred percent,” he said, “this is a theater and a theatrical release, and it’s a component of the distribution profile.”

Ken Taylor at Simchowitz.

For the gallery’s debut show, of paintings and ceramics by Pasadena artist Ken Taylor (through April 10), Simchowitz opted against hiring publicists or a communications team. For its Instagram account, Simchowitz decided the gallery would follow no one, which is intended to guard against perceptions of favoritism, he said. “You go to Kordansky and you go to the other galleries, and they’re following a very specific group of people. By not following everyone, I’m not insulting anyone; being like this, I’m open to everybody.”

In another departure from gallery norms, the sales directive is first come, first served. He’s not reserving pieces for top collectors to leverage as social currency or to compete for artists to represent (he has his own list of up-and-coming artists ready to draw from, he said). Simchowitz recounts a recent visit by a group who assumed that everything was sold and unavailable unless you were with an institution.

“’Not at all,’ I told them,” and their energy immediately warmed, he said. “I’ve never been against the institutional business. I’ve been against how they operate and the philosophies and conditions of how they’ve built a business. I just think it can be done better and more efficiently.”

Remember that scene in Pretty Woman, when Julia Roberts walks into a tony Rodeo Drive boutique and the haughty staff refuses to serve her, even though she’s got scads of Richard Gere’s cash to spend? “I think the reason you don’t go to some of the bigger galleries in town is because the second you walk in there, you’re a nobody. You go to the Four Seasons and check in and they say, ‘How are you today? Would you like the New York Times with your coffee and breakfast tomorrow morning?”

That is the Simchowitz gallery directive. Gone are the high counters and cool staff. Instead, everyone is warmly welcomed by Hannah, a former museum employee who wears combat boots and a smile, and is ready to chat about your favorite artists, why you’re here, and how she can help. The furniture is mid-century, with warm wood and comfortable benches throughout.

Ken Taylor’s opening at Simchowitz.

Artist Petra Cortright had this to say about her collector friend: “Stefan has a polarizing personality, but at the end of the day he truly loves art and it is something that I will always respect about him. Every aspect of his life is dedicated to good taste and good art. I wish there were more people like him, but there aren’t.”

Recently, on his personal Instagram account, Simchowitz posted a video of Muhammed Ali in the ring. His caption read: “I take inspiration in this. Ducking and diving. Art world vs Ali.”

The Simchowitz ego may be large, but it’s his dexterity and ability to throw a punch—and take one—that keeps people coming back to watch his next match, which is likely to be just as bloody and entertaining as the last.

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