Universo Curvo


History of the Billettes Cloister

From Medieval Legends to Lucia Adverse Photograph Exhibition

One would never suspect that behind the two arched doors of No. 24 rue des Archives lies not only the oldest preserved cloister in Paris but also a famous destination for Christian pilgrimages in the late Middle Ages. The photographic exhibition from photographer Lucia Adverse affords Parisians an opportunity to rediscover this national treasure.

The Billettes Cloister was named after the street between rue des Archives of Glassware and Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie. The former “rue des Billettes” was realigned and renamed “rue des Archives” in the nineteenth century.

The church occupies the thirteenth century property that once belonged to a Jewish resident named Jonathan.  Jonathan was accused, condemned and burned in 1290 for stabbing a piece of holy bread. Legend has it that the holy bread bled, proving the bread held the presence of the body of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. This miracle of the desecrated holy bread became so famous that it inspired artists such as the great Florentine painter Paolo Uccello to make the pilgrimage to Paris. Unfortunately, the church was also the original site of the first expulsion of Jews from Paris during the reign of Philip IV. Today, no plaque or explanatory panel exists to remind us that the church and the cloister were at one time equal in importance to Lourdes, Fátima or Saint-Jacques de Compostela.  However, this magnificent church that produced miracles and inspired artists was destroyed during the French Revolution.  The church was rebuilt in 1758 in its current baroque style.  The Cloisters was secularized and the rest of the convent was sold as national property in 1793. In 1808, the City of Paris bought the property and donated it to the worshippers of Augsburg Lutheran Worship whom occupy it to this day.

The cloister adjoining the church had various assignments before recently becoming a venue for exhibitions. Dating back from 1427, it was redesigned and built to the standard accorded to the latest in French Gothic – which at the time was considered quite flamboyant. Some of its more interesting architectural features included: instead of having traditional mouldings the columns disappeared into the ceiling.  This gave visitors an uninterrupted view from the base of the pillars to the ribbed vaulted ceilings. The effect is that the building looks like a plant that seems to spring from the earth.

In 2011, Ricardo Chaves-Fernandes offered us a first exchange between this “stone forest” and the Amazon jungle, presenting felines and wild animal sculptures from the artist, Leopoldo Martins. In 2013 he invited Lucia Adverse to exhibit at the cloister – to reconnect with the sacred origins of Western architecture. Who would have thought that the curves inspired by Oscar Niemeyer would marry so subtly with the arcs of the fifteenth century?

The aesthetic simplicity of the rule of St. Augustine, followed by the congregation of Billettes, gives us a refined expression of Gothic style. Despite the subsequent restoration on the church’s north side in the nineteenth century, the space remains suitable for meditation and contemplation. Some keystones such as the shield carried by two angels in the southern bay are the only precious ornaments of this architecture that escaped the vulgarities of vandalism.  The harmony of the whole is therefore based on singular simplicities – light and shadow, the grey stone and white stone, the curved line and the broken line. Many of these same elements bond the architecture of the cloister to the photographs of Lucia Adverse.

The series “Universo Curvo” (Curved Universe) was displayed at the cloister in such a way to mimic the monks every day movements within the walls of the convent. Originally, the central courtyard was a garden with four sides which represented the biblical description of the Garden of Eden with its center representing the “Fountain of Life.”

This is perhaps what ties Lucia Adverse’s photograhy to the art and spirituality of the Billettes. It’s where light meets shade, where simple curves intertwine with arched columns.  It’s where a photographer’s vision becomes a timeless work of art.

 

Marc Soléranski

Art historian, author

 

Curved Universe – Philosophical Convergences

The curved universe was a theory that was first presented by Einstein and literally constructed by influential Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer.

This theory/concept has been the inspiration for the new work from the Brazilian artist Lucia Adverse (born 1967). In this new series the artist presents a series of great strength, based on theoretical and philosophical thoughts from the past, to the present day.

The word universe, from the Latin “un” (union) and “vorsum” (direction), leads us to believe that the natural tangle of forces around us plays a pivotal role in generating and renewing our own system.

Therefore, we believe that the “curved universe” – mentioned poetically by Oscar Niemeyer – is actually the convergence of philosophical ideas translated into the personal expression of the architect.  He has said that “It is not the right angle that attracts me, nor the line straight, hard and inflexible, created by man. What attracts me is the free and sensual curve, the curve that I find in the mountains of my country, in the sinuous course of its rivers, in the waves of the sea, the body of my favorite woman. “The universe was made by curves, the curved universe of Einstein.”

It is through this reflective discourse from Oscar Niemeyer that Lucia Adverse expresses her ideas through this new photographic work.

This phrase by Niemeyer also illustrates metaphorically, the broad modernist period in Brazilian history which started with the “Semana de Arte Moderna de São Paulo” in 1922. This period gradually changed the direction of Brazilian art and the world’s perception of Brazilian society by redefining the national identity of Brazil.

Through her understanding of interior design and photography, Lucia Adverse uses light and shadow which give wings to your imagination. The works also allow us to peek into the creative process of the artist while allowing us the freedom of interpreting her abstract work on our own terms.

It is with great pleasure that I present the new series of Lucia Adverse, “The Curved Universe” to all visitors and collectors.

Ricardo Chaves Fernandes
Member of the International Association of Art Critics (A.I.C.A.), France
Member of the Association of Art Historians of London (A.A.H.), United Kingdom
Member of the Association des Amis du Palais de Tokyo, France