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POP ART: Huge black-and-white photographs of gnarled vine branches took over the Palais Brongniart on Thursday, as part of the inauguration of “Shared Roots,” Brazilian photographer Vik Muniz’s exhibition for French Champagne house Ruinart, owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton.

But were they actual vine branches?

“From afar, I thought they were drawings,” said Spanish actress Rossy de Palma, twirling a black lace fan, about the intricate compositions of blackened wood, charcoal and chardonnay leaves, set in twisted trompe-l’oeil vine shapes.

Alongside Audrey Marnay, Caroline de Maigret, Sarah Andelman and DJ Kiddy Smile, de Palma was one of the guests at the one-day exhibition, which closes Friday evening.

“I love nature, earth and wine,” said the actress and muse to Pedro Almodóvar, who will soon be taking the stage in Jean Paul Gaultier’s “Fashion Freak Show” from March 21 to 31, succeeding Dita Von Teese as a guest star in the musical. “All of these things are amplified by the multitude of little details that you can only see up close. It’s stunning.”

"Shared Roots" by Vik Muniz and Ruinart

“Shared Roots” by Vik Muniz and Ruinart  Courtesy

Creating surprise is one of the key goals of the Brazilian photographer’s work.

“I like doing things that can be read in different ways,” said Muniz, who is Ruinart’s guest artist for 2019, succeeding Chinese camouflage artist Liu Bolin.

“When you first look at a painting, you see the image in its entirety, as a product of the artist’s imagination,” he explained during a talk with Frédéric Panaiotis, head of the Ruinart cellars. “And then you take a step closer to the painting and see the actual material that was used to make it, like the textured strokes of oil paint on a Van Gogh. That’s when you understand the idea: when the tool itself is transformed into something intellectual.”

The Brazilian artist is known for his experiments with unexpected materials like chocolate, diamonds or ashes. Following his 2018 residency at the Ruinart vineyard in Sillery, in the Champagne region, Muniz chose to work around natural materials like burnt wood and leaves in order to explore the relationship between man and nature.

In addition to the one-day exhibition, the pictures will be hung on the walls outside the Palais Brongniart on the Place de la Bourse on March 18, where they will be visible to all passersby for a month. “Shared Roots” will then travel to art fairs around the world, including the 2019 editions of Frieze and Art Basel.

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