La Grange: convivialité et coups de coeur

(Translated from French by JLB)

Galerie La Grange.

For almost four years now, the Galerie La Grange in Romaînmôtier has established itself as one of the leading centres of living painting in French-speaking Switzerland. In autumn 2003, Luc Doret and Chris Schau inaugurated this large space, which can legitimately be considered as one of the three or four best places dedicated to the plastic arts in the Vaud countryside.

Initially, it was not the intention of the two artists living in Geneva to open an exhibition space. They were simply looking for the quietness of the natural surroundings of a house that could house a painting studio for each of them. They had both established themselves and exhibited as painters, taught her, she ran a gallery. And then they came across this small medieval town in the Jura region of the Waldensian Jura, a barn with old stones probably dating from the time of the construction of the famous Romanesque abbey church nearby! They quickly understood the advantages of this place and they put their hands to work to make it their own. On the ground floor, they renovated the dwelling and set up two very beautiful workshops, while on the ground floor, they knocked down walls and opened this gallery, acquiring a certain sumptuousness, thanks to judicious transformations which nevertheless respected the original rusticity.

Of their Geneva relations, they had certainly preserved a certain number of artistic relationships, but as sensitive, receptive people, they knew how to smell the air, so that one day, when a pilgrim stopped, with a stick in his hand, with his Scottish wife and his dog, to admire the place, they began to talk, took one of his heads out of his pocket, and the adventure began: it is the first exhibition, by the artist Philippe Jean, who lives next door to Vaulion, with his portraits inspiring terror, large formats resulting from a furious craftsmanship if ever there was one! So we hang up the Tetes, we miss a piano that Christian Favre will masterfully touch, and it is, from the outset, the party, which shows us that, in addition to a passion for the years, Luc Doret is a knowledgeable connoisseur in the field of tasting the dishes and vintages of his new adopted canton.

Another day, an English watercolourist, who had already exhibited in Chris Schau’s Geneva gallery, comes to present the work of a friend. But we had to force him,” says Luc Doret, “because he had a number of works in his trunk, which he certainly didn’t want to exhibit. Despite everything, he had to bow down, at his wife’s insistence. It was an extraordinary vernissage. Every opening is different, depending on the works on display. Sometimes it is like being in a church at the time of communion, sometimes, as was the case with Michael Layland, it is a kind of fair: there were people everywhere, many visitors, and the artist’s own creatures came out of motionless puppets from which an irresistible cheerfulness emanated. «

It’s strange,” continues Luc Doret, “but Jane Le Besque, who is exhibiting these days until April 9th , is also English, she also paints watercolours, and she also lives in France, in the Ain. She makes collages inspired by nature, but does not paint in a descriptive way: it is a dreamlike world, very imagined, birds, cats, a whole universe which reveals a hallucinated intimacy, tinged with eroticism, moreover, with curiously sexual characters”.

So rather than observing a well-defined line, Galerie La Grange welcomes people and works of art that provoke favourites during a visit. It seems that the works undergo an ordeal, familiar to all gallery owners: what happens to them without the presence of their author? Some of them, which provoked immediate enthusiasm, find it difficult to hold out after three weeks, even though it is painful for gallery owners to have to part with others when the artist and the buyers come to take them away. For Luc Doret and Chris Schall, the most delicate ordeal is to exhibit their own paintings.

Jane Le Besque