Exhibition Ceija Stojka in Paris: So beautiful and striking!

A beautiful and striking exhibition is taking place at the Maison rouge in Paris until 20 May. For the first time in Paris the works of Ceija Stojka are exhibited. She is a Romani Austrian artist born in 1933. At the age of ten she had been deported with her family and survived three concentration camps. Many years later, when she was 55, she began to express her memories through writing, drawing and painting. She died in 2013.

In her poetic texts as well as in her naïf paintings one can hear in the same time the child and the mature woman who remembers. Ceija Stojka makes us live her carefree childhood in a gipsy caravan; her survival in concentration camps till the liberation of Bergen-Belsen; and her return to life and freedom, as if we were next to her. Her works are a vibrant voice for the culture, deportation and present condition of Roma. I had not seen such a beautiful and deeply moving exhibition for long!

In our gipsy caravan

The first room is dedicated to the carefree life of Roma before the war, a carefreeness and freedom that they will never regain : bright colours, idyllic landscapes, cheerful words…

The Hunt

The following room is called: ‘La Traque’. Several paintings show Ceija and her brothers and sisters hiding themselves in a garden in Vienna. One can see only their frightened eyes…

Auschwitz: 31 March-June 1944

From the third room no more carefreeness. Ceija Stojka had been deported to Auschwitz with her mother, brothers and sisters in March 1944. Her paintings now show huge black boots, flags with swastikas, huts surrounded by barbed wire, dead bodies, chimneys and crows…

Ravensbrück: June-December 1944

The next room is called: Ravensbrück. Ceija, her mother and her sister Kathi were moved and deported in the women’s concentration camp of Ravensbrück in June 1944, only two months before the terrible liquidation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Gipsy camp (2 August). Whether in Black & White or in colours the paintings referring to that period are deeply moving, and ‘les femmes de Ravansbrück’ is a true masterpiece.

Bergen-Belsen: January-15 April 1945

In January 1945 Ceija and her mother were taken to the concentration camp of Bergen-Belsen, firstly by truck and then on foot. In this camp where no more food was given to the deportees Ceija and her mother survived among dead bodies despite cold, hunger and fear. On 15 April 1945 Bergen-Belsen was freed by the English troups; then set on fire to prevent the spread of epidemics which had already killed many deportees. The works exhibited in this room show life and death in Bergen-Belsen, as well as the liberation of the camp.

Back to Life

The last room of the exhibition brings us back to life. The walls are coloured again and one can see blue skies and sunflowers, and the sun and mother earth which both bring us life and hope. One can feel how the past, the present and the future are mixed up. Even if the paintings are now coloured and cheerful, the carefreeness expressed by the works in the first room has gone…

It is difficult to find the words telling all that one feels after visiting such an exhibition. I have introduced you to very few of the works exhibited: there are many other paintings and texts and some photographs as well. I hope that this general survey has tempted you. I really loved it! Moreover it was my first visit to the Maison rouge and I highly recommend you to discover this amazing cultural place near the Bastille… before its closing in the end of 2018.

And to end, some words by Ceija Stojka:

“If the world doesn’t change now – if the world doesn’t open its doors and windows – if it doesn’t build peace – real peace – so that my great-great-grandchildren have a chance of living in this world, then I’m incapable of explaining why I survived Auschwitz, Bergen-Belsen and Ravensbrück.”

Practical information : Exhibition Ceija Stojka – La maison rouge-fondation antoine de galbert – 10 bd de la bastille 75012 – Until 20 May 2018 – wednesday till sunday: 11am-7pm (9pm on thursday)

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris The Blog – www.goodmorningparis.fr

Paris Paradis: A Free and So Nice Outdoors Exhibition!

A pleasant exhibition of photographs is taking place until the end of March in the Palais Royal Gardens in Paris. It is called: ‘Paris Paradis, un journal photographique de Nicolas Guilbert’. It is in open-air and free and can be seen at any time as the photographs are lit up at night!

For thirty years the Parisian artist Nicolas Guilbert has been walking all over Paris so as to capture new pictures of the city. He takes an amused look at it by catching at the right time photographic opportunities: Parisian people or tourists, street scenes, metro stations or famous monuments. I like his view of Paris which is in the same time unusual, powerful and unpretentious.

The location of the exhibition looks like an allusion to the youth of the artist: Nicolas Guilbert used to work as a scene shifter in the nearby Comedie Française when he was 16… and the fences and his works were put up last January by some scene shifters of the theatre!

About 50 photographs representing the best of his most recent book ‘Paris Paradis’ are currently exhibited on wooden fences at the entrance of the Palais Royal Gardens next to the famous Buren’s columns: Black & White or in colour, indoor or outdoor, showing people or animals, streets or monuments. I love all of them. One of my favourites is: ‘Irène Krenz-Mouquin et Elliott, quai de l’horloge, 1er’. The whole makes a poetic travel through Paris. Not to be missed!

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris B&B – www.goodmorningparis.fr

Practical information: Paris Paradis, un journal photographique de Nicolas Guilbert – Palais Royal 75001 – Between Buren’s columns and the Gardens – Until 31 March 2018

 

 

Metro Station of the Month: Liège (line 13)

Our Metro Station of the Month, Liège, is not as central or as easy to reach as the previous ones. Indeed it is located on the metro line 13 which is reputed to be the most crowded and the most irregular metro line in Paris. I recommend you to go there at off peak hours!

Yet Liège is one of the most beautiful and original metro stations in Paris. For several reasons… Firstly it is one of the two Parisian stations whose platforms are not lying opposite one another but one after the other. This happens quite often in the London underground while in Paris only two stations were built in that way: the second one is Commerce, located in 15th arrondissement on metro line 8. Regarding Liège this is due to the narrowness of the street where the station was created.

Secondly the metro station Liège has got for many years limited opening hours. I remember that when I started to run Good Morning Paris I had a B&B very close to that station. Nevertheless I did not mention to my guests the metro station Liège but Place Clichy, which was a little further but always open, while Liège was closed from 8pm and on Sundays! Fortunately this changed in December 2006… further to a demonstration of the inhabitants inside the station.

And above all the station Liège is beautifully decorated with ceramics from Welkenraedt (a Belgian town located in the province of Liège) which show monuments and landscapes of the city of Liège and its surroundings. Those works were added in 1982 to cover the white walls facing the passengers in each half-station. One does not know why the ceramics are in colour on the platform towards south while they are in Blue and White only on the platform towards north. No matters! Each of them (eighteen in total) is remarkable and mention the name of the place represented.

Unusual opening hours, unusual platforms… The metro station Liège is unique and charming with its ceramics and its traditional white, blue and brown glazed tiles, so typical of the Parisian metro.

Back to earth: Do not miss the New Athens area where many painters and writers used to live in the 19th century. It is located only a few minutes walk towards the east and is really peaceful and romantic.

Christine Bokobza – Good Morning Paris The Blog

Practical information : Website of the RATP