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PARIS — What happens when sculptures and fragrances mix? Fascinating, newfangled four-dimensional creations.
That’s a main takeaway from “Profile By,” an exhibition on display at Phillips in Paris until June 25. There, six artists were paired with six perfumers from IFF to conceive works of art, which have been made in limited editions of up to 50. (Prices are on-demand.)
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The project is the brainchild of Diane Thalheimer, a fragrance expert and art collector.
“From the start we created extremely thoughtful duos — in terms of character, personality and the potential links that could be created between the two,” she explained.
Artist Joana Vasconcelos was partnered with perfumer Anne Flipo, for instance.
“I asked Anne to help me make a perfume that was related to the seven chakras,” said Vasconcelos. “I found the dimension of scent to be very spiritual, because it actually diffuses in space and fills it.
“Yet the sculptural side is very physical; it is something that exists in the first dimension. While the scent is something a bit like music,” she continued. “We are all marked by physicality — by our body — but also by our perfume. It is part of our identity.”
The artist found the project interesting to work on, not least because it used the inverse process to how she generally envisions her artwork — dreaming up sculptures to fill large spaces. At Phillips, her small, colorful crocheted oeuvres, with six protruding branches, called “Lança Perfume” (or “Spear Perfume”), dangle from the ceiling in a little, makeshift room.
“Here, [the sculpture] is very small but it diffuses perfume in the entire space,” said Vasconcelos.
Flipo said each chakra corresponded to a series of olfactive ingredients, and that Vasconcelos went for those that are the most upbeat, after visiting the IFF office and reviewing Flipo’s palette of scent notes.
“The [fragrance] formula is not very long — there are 17 ingredients,” she said, of the fresh incense fragrance that was created.
Vasconcelos scented each ceramic piece that’s covered with crochet.
“Now, I have the impression that I’m going to put perfume in all the sculptures,” she exclaimed.
When Thalheimer approached Hubert Le Gall for their “Profile By” project, he thought of a subject that had been obsessing him: mythology.
“I liked the idea of a vase, an object which contains the perfume,” said Le Gall. “I wanted to make the perfume of Dionysus. Dionysus resembles me the most — I speak of loving life, dance, excesses, terrestrial pleasures,” he said. “I call this ‘The Heart of Dionysus.’”
The artist gestured to a cracked vase with two branch-like forms on either side. Those could be interpreted in many ways — as two aortas leaving a heart, a bull’s head with horns or life’s comedy (the side sprouting green bulbs) and tragedy (the side cut short), for instance.
Le Gall told perfumer Jean-Christophe Hérault that he wanted a carnal scent.
“I didn’t want something floral, delicate. I wanted something that spoke of all that…of an uninhibited god,” said Le Gall.
“I adore history and antiquity — it’s a period I find extremely rich,” said Hérault, who was reminded of “Letters from a Stoic” by Seneca. From there he was guided in the fragrance creation by the duality of stoicism and excess.
“I used aromatic essences that we could have found during Antiquity in different forms,” he said, naming the likes of myrtle, myrrh, marjoram, oregano, mint and thyme. “It’s something extremely sensual.”
“Aromatic and sexual,” added Le Galle, whose vase contains the scented ceramic ball.
Another work was created by artist Pablo Reinoso and perfumer Domitille Michalon-Bertier, who have known each other for more than 15 years. Before partnering together on the “Profile By” project, Michalon-Bertier visited Reinoso’s atelier. Next they began smelling raw ingredients.
Reinoso had kept in mind a men’s scent, which diffuses horizontally, that IFF had formulated but never marketed. From there, Reinoso and Michalon-Berier came up with a woody luminous fragrance.
Reinoso said it was complicated to integrate fragranced ceramic into his sculpture made out of chestnut wood, called “Rocking Me.”
“It’s this idea of continuity that made me think of this serpentine space,” said Reinoso, who wanted the work of art to be able to move slightly, capturing the idea of the movement of someone wearing and giving off the scent of perfume. “Technically it seems simple, but it’s very, very difficult to do this piece because there are three circles touching the ground.”
Perfumer Nicolas Beaulieu worked with sculptor Daniel Firman on a project involving lifelike bronze hands holding a fragranced ball of ceramic, called “Saisir l’impossible (l’échappé)” (or “Seize the Impossible (Escaped)”).
“I thought this idea was extremely poetic,” said Beaulieu, adding not only was the idea about the fleeting nature of fragrance, but also about fate’s incontrollable nature.
He and Firman opted to work with the notion of a material nonexistent in perfumery — burnt wood that’s cold. They began by using citrus oil to express green wood, a note of flint stone and an accord of vetiver, cashmeran and oak wood absolute, and a sandalwood note from New Caledonia.
“There is something very addictive,” said Beaulieu of the sent.
Nearby stood the creation of perfumer Juliette Karagueuzoglou and artist Ori Gersht, titled “Never Ending Journeys 01, 02, 03.” It includes a white flower, woody scent.
Images of flowers feature in this artwork, shown around the circular base that’s reflected in a mirrored cylinder. The fragranced ceramic takes the form of a round globe sitting atop it.
“His favorite flower is the Madonna Lily, so I started with that,” said Karagueuzolglou, speaking of Gersht.
Perfumer Paul Guerlain teamed with artist Adel Abdessemed on a sculpture resembling a woman’s foot with its heel on a ball.
“He spoke of Nice, sand, air, wood and fire,” said Guerlain, who put together olfactive accords accordingly for a rose oriental scent that fragrances the oeuvre “Noli me tangere” (or “Touch Me Not”). “It was hyper interesting to work with someone from another universe, who expresses himself differently and arrive at this.”
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