Gaël Charbau

Curator

Gaël Charbeau is an art critic as well as an independent curator. He was the editorial director of the Salon de Montrouge from 2009 to 2014. In 2003, he founded and directed a free magazine entitled Particules about contemporary art, which was edited until 2010. He keeps being involved in the publishing of books about contemporary art and recently curated the latest exhibition of Gilles de Barbier at Friche Belle de Mai in Marseilles.

{Artsper}: Could you tell us about yourself and how you got where you are today?
{Gaël Charbau}: I studied history of art at the university and also started doing art during my studies, but I gave it up rather fast. I think it was more of a DIY taste combined with a chronicle dissatisfaction. However, I have always written, so I have quite naturally combined my love for writing and art. I created « Particules » magazine in 2003 and published it until 2010.

{Artsper}: What was the first exhibition you curated?
{Gaël Charbau}: Some of my very early projects date back to my student years but the one I can say I really “curated” is probably “L’importance des choses” in 2009, the first gallery exhibition of Neil Beloufa at the LHK gallery, closed today. With Perséphone Kessanidis (owner of LHK at the time), we were fascinated by this young artist, who was walking on the edge of several genres: director, sculptor and story teller at the same time. Neil knew exactly what he wanted and my role was to help him fit all the pieces together in the relatively small gallery space we had. Since then, I tried to curate exhibitions every time I had the chance.

{Artsper}: What was the most challenging exhibition you have ever curated, and, reversely, the easiest?
{Gaël Charbau}: Each exhibition comes with its shares of logistics, lighting and space difficulties. The exhibition entitled “Le cambrioleur- The Housebreaker” that just opened in Riga, Letonia, and for which I worked in collaboration with Adiaf, was rather complex to put up for logistical reasons, especially because of the lighting and hanging systems.
In Seoul, I had a hard time with scenography too…”Parapanorama”, that I imagined with the Audi Talents Award program of the Palais de Tokyio in 2014 was also very challenging. However, because we presented live creations, the result was exhilarating. As for the easiest, they all seem so at first, but when comes the time to plan, finance and put them up, it is another story!

{Artsper} During the Emerige award, you seemed very close to the young artists with who you worked, does it bring you more satisfaction to work with emerging artists?
{Gaël Charbau}: I love working with artists- which is something that all curators would say I think. With young artists, the pleasure mostly comes from their incredible sentimental, intellectual and logistical investment. They give without counting. I love discovering new ways with them, new approaches of their work, present yet unexplored.

{Artsper} How are the Emerige award laureates of 2015 different than the ones of 2014?
{Gaël Charbau}: One of the characteristics of the Emerige award is to associate a gallery to our program. The laureate will have the opportunity to organize a solo exhibition in 2016 at the GP&N Vallois, which has been therefore involved in the pre-selection process. As for the past edition, the artists that we have chosen have very different aesthetics and sometimes almost directly opposed visions. However, there might be a common point in their practice: a strong relationship to experience and material. This is why I chose to entitle this year’s edition “Empirism”, while last years’ was entitled “Travellers”.


{Artsper}: Tell us about your involvement at the Salon de Montrouge since 2009?
{Gaël Charbau}: When Stéphane Corréard decided to renew the Salon in 2009, he asked me to take charge of the committee of critics. My task was to gather a group of professionals from different backgrounds and invite them to give a “first” look on the artists who entered our contest. They were also supposed to help them during the exhibition and write an introduction for the catalog, that I am also in charge of.

{Artsper}: What are your plans for the future ?
{Gaël Charbau}: I have this desire to help emerging artists as well as mid-career ones at this particular time of their path where the audience think they already know their work and they fall under the radar. This is the background for the retrospective on Gilles Barbier at the Friche Belle de Mai in Marseilles, on show until January 2016. The exhibition will then travel to Seoul. Up until November, there is also “The Housebreaker” in Riga where I present the works of 56 French artists, on loan from 6 collectors, members of Adiaf. From October to December, I am assisting Pauline Bastard, the laureate of the Audi Talents Awards exhibiting at the Collège des Bernardins. Her “Alex” project will be exhibited for the first time. At the beginning of November, the exhibition of the 11 laureates of the Emerige award will start. And from September 12th to October 12th the Maison-Lafitte hosts the beautiful exhibition on Stéphane Vigny, that I also curated. That’s it for the near future!

{Artsper}: What do you think about Artsper?
{Gaël Charbau}: To me, any initiatives contributing to promote art, help the economy, the artists and make their work more accessible, is a great thing! Make contemporary art more accessible is a way to deepen our vision of the world around us. Art forces us to slow down. A work of art connects two people through vision. With love, it is one the only thing that can change the world! Everything that promotes art is good, and Artsper encourages people to own art! I am all for it!

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