Overview of the exhibition

From December 9, 2023, to April 21, 2024, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain presents Breath of an Architect, an exhibition especially created for the institution by architect Bijoy Jain, founder of Studio Mumbai in India. Bijoy Jain's work reflects a deep concern for the relationship between man and nature, in which time and gesture are essential factors. Exploring the links between art, architecture, and material, Bijoy Jain offers at the Fondation Cartier a space of reverie and contemplation in dialogue with Jean Nouvel’s iconic building.

Artists featured in the exhibition:

Bijoy Jain

Breath of an Architect

Bijoy Jain imagines the exhibition as a physical and emotional experience. Breath of an Architect is an invitation to breathe, wander in quietude and rediscover silence: "Silence has a sound, we hear its resonance in ourselves. This sound connects all living beings, it is the breath of life. It is synchronous in all of us. Silence, time and space are eternal, as is water, air and light our elemental construct. This abundance of sensory phenomena, dreams, memory, imagination, emotions and intuition stem from this pool of experiences, embedded in the corners of our eyes, in the soles of our feet, in the lobes of our ears, in the timbre of our voices, in the whisper of our breath and in the palm of our hands."

Convening light and shadow, lightness and gravity, wood, brick, earth, stone, and water, the architect composes a sensory experience, in resonance with the materials. Crafted in rhythm with the breath and shaped by hand, the exhibition’s installation is composed of architectural fragments. Stone and terracotta sculptures, facades of traditional Indian dwellings, rendered panels, lines of pigment drawn with thread, bamboo structures inspired by tazias — funerary monuments carried on the shoulders in memory of a Saint during Shiite muslim processions — these transitory, ephemeral structures present a world that is both infinite and intimate and carry us to places both near and far.

On a suggestion from Hervé Chandès, general exhibition curator and Fondation Cartier’s artistic managing director, Bijoy Jain has also invited Chinese painter living in Beijing HU Liu and Turkish-born Danish ceramist living in Paris Alev Ebüzziya Siesbye to join him in creating the exhibition. All three give the same importance to the ritual mastery of gesture, to resonance, and dialogue with material; they share the same ethos and sensibility. HU Liu’s monochrome black drawings are created using graphite, repeating iterations of the same movement to reveal the essence of natural elements: grass caressed by the wind, the rolling of the waves, or the silhouette of tree branches, conveying a timeless solemnity.

Alev Ebüzziya Siesbye’s ceramics are also the culmination of great skill and dexterity, as well as an intense dialogue with the clay, weightlessness in the experience of her work.

For Bijoy Jain, the physical world we inhabit is a palimpsest of our cultural evolution. Humanity moves through a landscape in constant evolution, one whose successive writings are intertwined. In Breath of an Architect, we are offered a glimpse, however fleeting, of architecture’s sensorial emanations, the intuitive forces that bind us to the elements and our emotional relationship with space.

General exhibition curator: Hervé Chandès, Fondation Cartier’s artistic managing director
Associate curator: Juliette Lecorne, curator at the Fondation Cartier

Bijoy Jain

Bijoy Jain, born in 1965 in Mumbai, studied at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. He worked in Los Angeles and London before returning to India in 1995 and founding Studio Mumbai. The studio operates as an interdisciplinary group of architects, engineers, master builders, artisans, technicians and artists across continents.As a collective, they are involved in the research and development of projects, using process and time as an integral part of its expression; water air and light being the basis of all materiality in the synthesis of the work... Humankind in nature - nature in Humankind.

Bijoy Jain teaches at the Accademia di architettura, Università della Svizzera Italiana in Mendrisio, Switzerland. He also taught as a visiting professor at Yale University in the United States and at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in Copenhagen. In 2015, he received an honorary doctorate from Hasselt University, Belgium, for his contribution to the architectural profession. In 2017, he received the RIBA International Fellowship in London.