Some people travel hundreds of miles to search for the mystical holy land, but actually, you can pop on the Eurostar to Lille and be encased in all manner of Eldorado curios in a matter of hours!
Every three years, the city of Lille in northern France dedicates six months to the culture of another country. 2019 sees the celebration of Mexico, and is hosting celebrations of all things Eldorado across the city in the tri-annual event ‘Lille 3000’ where you can expect to see the richness of the indigenous Mexican culture.
With pop up food stalls, art galleries, statues, talks and musical events, you can embrace Mexico whilst contemplating ‘eldorado’. After dark, the city blooms too! You won’t be able to miss the neon art if you walk around central Lille at night. The Yayoi Kusama “Tulips of Shangri-La” is an eye catching bunch of tulips on the corner of François Mitterrand which at 7 meters high, is a reference to the wonderful landscapes of Shangri-La’s imaginary land.
Mexican art has a lot to offer than Frida Kahlo, although you can see ‘Los Cocos’ (the coconuts), a small format, painted in 1951 nestling in the museum of the Hospice Comtesse, alongside 50 other works of arts which represent the best of Mexican artists.
With the whole city getting involved, the fiesta kicks off with a grand parade, complete with music, floats and costumes which snakes through the streets of the city. Along the main thoroughfare of Faidherbe, you cannot miss 10 giant statues of Alebrijes, depicting mythical Mexican characters (made in partnership with Oaxaca, the Museum of Popular Art of Mexico City). Even in the train station is celebrating with Luke Jerram ‘Museum of the Moon’.
Expect masks masks, feathers, ribbons, tinsel, flowers, figurines and representations of nature, which are dotted in around the neighbourhoods, and take inspiration from everything from politics to nature. A country of diverse extremes- the desert north and jungle landscapes in the south, add to the biodiversity to inspire artists.
Close to the station is the hub of the show. The Tripostal space will be open until September 1st, and will showcase ‘Eldorama’. Showcasing artworks from all over the world, step inside for an epic narrative, where you can go on a journey through the eldorado that our contemporary world promises us.
More interactive art can be seen at Maison Folie Moulins, which is transformed into a real Mexican casa loca. It is also showcasing the documentary film Audry Funk by Yiwei Chen; Hosting a discussion by indigenous people on the identity of being mexican. Led by the Tlacololeros, the craftsmen of the Wixarika (Huichol) and members of the Huni Kuin tribe, their practices and aesthetic in life, but they carry a common message.
Hospice Comtesse Museum is showcasing ‘Intenso / Mexicano’ by Mexican artists (or foreigners who resided in Mexico), after the Revolution of 1910. Some of the most famous names which are associated with Mexico- Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera, Francisco Toledo, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Germán Venegas and Daniel Lezama have works on show to demonstrate the variety of art forms which recur in representations of Mexico,and highlights the importance of the symbiosis between nature, man and art. The objects on display refer to traditional cultures and the Mexican imagination.
With further art to be seen in the neighbouring town of Tourcoing, the contemporary arts museum, Eugène Leroy Beaux-Arts Museum (LaM) is well worth a look. Located in a beautiful private hotel built in 1865, and is a calm space to appreciate modern art. The current exhibition ‘The Children of Paradise’ is an interesting personal representation of Eldorado and showcases enchantments, disenchantments and exxotic melancholy.
The stunning gallery come swimming pool, La Piscine Roubaix is a must visit for anyone with a sense of romance; Situated inside an Olympic swimming pool, complete with poolside changing rooms, it was first built in 1922, and pays homage to its Art-Deco roots, but it was re-designed by architect Jean-Paul Philippon in 1998, and transformed into a visual paradise. The streamlined central pool is still the focal point for visitors, but it is now surrounded by classical sculptures and a pop up exhibition celebrating all things Mexican.
Also in the area is the contemporary LaM gallery, which is showcasing the works of 20th century artist, Alberto Giacometti. Famous for his elongated and fragile silhouettes of men and women which are both abstract and humanised, the gallery proves there is a lot more to his work. Clearly influenced by Cubism, there is much reference to Egyptian, and African and Oceanic arts; However you can also see representations of Surrealism, with sculptures trapped behind “cages” endowed with a strong sexual connotation It wasn’t until after the Second World War, Giacometti developed the model of figure that we know him- the elongated and fragile image of men and women which was often based on his wife, lover and brother.
With so much to take in, you might want to take some time out to enjoy this buzzy city. Or you might just want to come back at another time!
Roubaix La Piscine
Hospice Comtesse Museum