Presented by Dorothée Dupuis, curator :
Arnaud opened his gallery in 2010, three years ago already, in his flat, just as Perrotin did 20 years before him in Paris. It’s a commercial decision to say, I won’t spend anything, I’ll sink everything into the art and I’ll live among the canvases. Both stingy and generous. Some art collectors don’t get it at all, they want a dedicated space, art and life shouldn’t mix, it makes them doubt the value of the works. Artists understand though, and they’re often happy to accept proposals from Arnaud, who, it has to be said, has a distinctive manner with people, mainly because as well as being a gallery owner he’s also a pharmaceutical sales rep, he sells pretty strong morphine-based painkillers – a quick squirt’s all you need, he acts it out, pschiitt. In the Deschin crowd he’s known as the “pharmacist”, that gives the artists a good laugh. He speaks of art like “gear”, and at the same time he has his own, specific perspective on the works, because he went to art school in Marseille many years ago, and also did the sacrosanct internship with Roger Pailhas, without which you can’t open a gallery in Marseille.
There he met figures like Laurent Godin and Pierre Bal-Blanc, who, according to the legend, he went to see the day he decided to put repping in second place and art in first (when you ask him why he’d quit art he first says it was because he wanted to make money, then because he wanted “a fancy life”). And so, according to the legend, Pierre Bal-Blanc told him to exhibit all the artists in residence at Astérides and at Triangle France at the Friche Belle de Mai. Which he did, and I realized pretty quickly just how literally he had taken this advice. But you don’t turn your nose up at a little publicity, so I let him get on with, or even facilitated, a good number of transactions, because Arnaud’s English is shaky at best and he sends emails and texts at the speed of light. Hence the occasional misunderstandings with artists keen on details … and on respect for privacy. Take a look at the list of artists who have worked with Arnaud: for an art-lover, it speaks for itself. Arnaud travels a lot: Dijon, Brussels, Miami, Geneva, Paris, Monaco, Moscow, Turin, and Nice, his second home (it’s where he sells his drugs). You then understand how that list took shape: through chance encounters and travel, because Arnaud understands that art is social, it’s time, discussions, parties, human warmth, sensuality, etiquette and friendship, but also intellect, flair, money and networking.Arnaud has taken on board the lesson of the 90s and, like one of the art movements of that decade, he’s a relational gallery owner.