Artus de Gaulejac welcomes us in his apartment where we find his last purchase, a work of Thomas Wattebled. Story of a young collector between African art, craft from Auvergne and contemporary art…
durat per sanguine virtus avorum
Where does your name come from ?
We have to go back to the 14thcentury, in Gascogne, when my ancestors, who lived in Southwestern France, were knighted and given the title of Viscount of Puycavel by the King of France. Their castle was destroyed during the Hundred Years War and the following generations moved to the North.
Where did you grow up ?
I was born and raised in the 9tharrondissement of Paris. We used to spend our family holidays in the Berry, in Bourges, where my grandfather lives. I went to a business school which allowed me to travel abroad.
Especially in Africa ?
Indeed, during my last year at school, I did an internship for a major brewery group. I asked to do it in Poland but I couldn’t speak the language, so they offered me to go to Congo-Brazzaville. I finally lived there for 3 years.
Africa helps you enjoy the simple things of life
What did you like there ?
I really liked the change of scenery but in the broad sens of the word. You need to erase everything you’ve learned till then. Africa helps you enjoy the simple things of life and teaches you to give priority to the things that count.
You brought back works of art and local craft from Africa. Where this desire of collecting came from?
Collecting is a family tradition and I was born among craftsmanship. My Grand-Father, who used to spend the whole summer in Auvergne, has an amazing collection of traditional tools from the Cantal, a real museum !
A collection must be emotional
What does collecting mean for you ?
In my opinion, a collection must be emotional, what I like is the mix of the works. It has to remind you something. The purchase is also really important: the moment, the mood, the smell, the people. The purchase is an integral part of my collection.
Can you choose one of the works around us and tell us about one of these moments ?
A bronze sculpture I bought from an artist I met in a hotel in Pointe Noire (Congo Brazzaville) where he was exhibited. Before buying the work, he took me to his village where he made the sculptures. It was so unreal, I felt like I was on another planet.
The artist melted scrap materials in a makeshift cauldron before pouring the molten metal into a sand mold. I was particularly moved by such sharing and the courage of these artists, totally misunderstood in a country where art is not a priority.
“Coûte que coûte” of Thomas Wattebled is now part of your collection. What did you like in this artwork ?
Thomas Wattebled thinks outside the box. The technique that he uses proves his high artistic quality. He gives a new vision to the everyday objects.
About “Coûte que Coûte”, I really like that he didn’t take the easy way out, by choosing postcard scene puzzle.
Pictures: Angélique Legeleux