“In 2005, by chance I came across a list published by the Ministry of the Interior which covered ‘France’s 172 forbidden cities’. I (re)discovered that these places bear names reminiscent of bucolic landscapes : Merisiers, Rosiers, Les Buis, Epinette, Tilleul... That same year, I exhibited a « herbal » at Octave Cowbell’s gallery: I set about burning all these names for vegetation, just like squatters do in stairwells. A country stroll which is in fact dragging the spectators right into outer city hell.”

Olivier Kosta-Théfaine is taking charge of three cupolas in the Palais de Tokyo to compose, using a lighter, a burnt sky inspired by frescoes from Italian palazzos. Renaissance painting thus takes on the air of graffiti traced out with a lighter on the ceilings of his adolescence. Defining himself as a ‘landscape painter’, he dissects the city’s edges and urban legends. He paints the abstract details of a street, observes the weeds, and breaks glass bottles so as to produce classical French-style gardens. 

Olivier Kosta-Théfaine - SOFFITTO – Flame of a cigarette lighter on ceiling
Palais de Tokyo, From July 2016