(Translated from French by JLB)

There are charming hotels (usually too expensive for their services). There are charming objects (which for a while make an illusion of their quality). It is also possible to be charming. But beware! This is the tree with this name. To continue in this direction, I would say that Nyon has a charming castle. It owes this quality to its view of Lake Geneva rather than to its rather  architecture. It benefits from this appellation by virtue of the exhibitions that its curator Vincent Lieber has been organising there for the past ten years.

At the end of the winter, the Château offers “Elective Affinities”. It was almost a question of “Dangerous liaisons”. This title, a touch sulphurous, would have put forward the name of the foundation that is now housed here. Valmont is indeed the “roué”, to use the terminology of the end of the 18th century, sowing moral disorder in Laclos’ epistolary novel. Vincent Lieber finally preferred “affinities” which, although “elective”, also proved to be selective. He was free to draw from the collection of some 300 pieces formed over the last three years by Valmont Cosmetics, born in 1985 from the famous clinic of the same name located in the heights of Montreux.

A game of encounters:

“Everything was born of several encounters,” explains Vincent Lieber. First of all Didier Guillon, head of Valmont, is a visitor to the Château. It’s only natural, you might say, since he lives in Nyon. It was there that he discovered the gigantic drawings of Veveysan Alain Huck, an artist now represented in the Foundation. The curator was contacted a few years ago by Carine de Torrenté, who is in charge of the Foundation. “She showed me the catalogue, which seduced me. I also liked the idea of the Foundation showing itself in Hydra, a Greek island that I love, and in the margins of the Venice Biennale”. Not just anywhere, by the way. It has thus appeared at Palazzo Tiepolo Passi.

Didier Guillon, who also creates a little (one of his works is now discreetly installed in a turret) has therefore let Vincent make his selection. He did not intervene. In any case, it was his own choices. “I was looking at his gaze.” It was also necessary to take into account the places. Very large rooms or tiny (and better heated) rooms. The idea was also to present only a few artists, plus the sometimes slightly dated ceramics of the Artigas Foundation. A Spanish potter now deceased who was seen a few years ago at the Ariana in Geneva. The common idea, dear to Didier Guillon, would be beauty, the goal after all of the Valmont products. “With what I gather”, he says, “I seek more to convey an emotional message than an intellectual one”.

A limited number of artists:

Drawn from the reserves, or borrowed from the various offices of the Valmont company throughout Europe (Barcelona, Berlin…), the works come from only a few creators. In addition to the Huck, there are the enormous gardens of Jane Le Besque, an Englishwoman now living in Geneva, on walls sumptuously repainted in wine leaves. Flowers and branches are sometimes watercoloured and sometimes cut. They then give way to the creations of the Venetian Silvano Rubino, including an astonishing table where plates and services are empty spaces cut out of a thick glass plate. There are also Murano cushions by Judi Harvest. Plus some enlarged animal skeletons by Quentin Garel. Watch out for them! These are not made of bone or wood. They are bronzes that are dramatically lit in the Castle.

That’s it. It’s little and it’s a lot. It was not a question of filling the space, but of making it breathe. As always here, the staging proves to be studied. It includes some of the ancient objects that make up the building’s DNA. The Château thus becomes a family home. One of those, now rare, where one feels the passage (and not the weight) of generations.

Jane Le Besque