Château de Nyon



(Translated from French by JLB)

This evening, the château is hosting its contemporary art exhibition “Les affinités électives”, in collaboration with the Fondation morgienne Valmont.

Slipping down the spiral stone staircase, the cold numbs the senses. In the semi-darkness of the first room, graceful vegetation is strangely intermingled on the walls. Under Jane Le Besque’s brush, the poetic and mysterious gardens of her English origins are awakened.

“I love the Château de Nyon”, says Didier Guillon, President of the Fondation morgienne Valmont, who is exhibiting some of the works from his collection at the château from 9 February to 8 April 2018. “I love its medieval romanticism, which invites the dreamer to an exaltation of the senses”.

Further on, a ladder illuminated by candle-shaped bulbs rises towards the sky. A Venetian artist, Silvano Rubino works with the glass of Murano artisans. Here he evokes the angels of Jacob’s ladder by playing with the elegant lines of the Venice chandeliers.

Medieval and contemporary dining room:

An invisible feast is enjoyed in the next room, amidst giant animal skulls reminiscent of medieval hunting trophies. A little girl leans over the glass table, intrigued. A circular hole in place of the plate, and cutlery carved into the glass draw dish-shaped shadows on the floor. “Here the atmosphere is more monochrome,” comments Vincent Lieber, curator of the château. “The atmosphere is almost threatening, in the midst of Quentin Garel’s work, which is reminiscent of the stuffed animals in the dining rooms of castles”.

The rest of the walk surprises the visitor at every turn. A sober, cold aesthetic, rubs shoulders with the velvety and warm universe of fairy tales. Glass cushions in a turret, which look soft but would certainly not have satisfied the delicate jo~es of ia Sleeping Beauty. In the corner of a fireplace with a mantle adorned with golden candlesticks, an egg levitates above a bowl of water. “I. Don’t try to explain the works”, admits Didier Guillon. “It must be a favourite.”

Instinct to master:

It appeals to the child’s natural wonder. And accosting a little girl who walks across the room, “Tell me, what did you like?”. She answers without hesitation: “The ladder and the table!”.

The president of the Valmont Foundation remembers being bored as a child in museums. “I was told that I had to read the explanations to understand the objects. Whether I liked the objects or not. Naturally.” He regrets this tendency to lose the immediate connection to the work. “I don’t try to make ”conceptual exhibitions. I want to see children in the galleries.”

A rather rare discourse in contemporary art circles. And the result proves him right: the choice of works exhibited reveals a definite taste. The scenography of the exhibition is meticulous and plays skilfully with the decor of the castle. It must be said that the president of the foundation grew up in a family where art collectors and artists have multiplied since the 18th century.

One last question tickles the visitor. What is behind the title of the exhibition – “Elective Affinities”? “It’s like Russian dolls,” Didier Guillon surprisingly replies. “I choose what I like in the art world; Vincent Lieber has chosen what he liked from my collection; and the visitor will retain one or two works that have marked him in the exhibition”. So, free to each one to follow his instinct to choose the works he prefers.

Jane Le Besque