This October, La Galerie Nationale, Dubai, showcased The Apartment, an exhibition of artworks, decorative arts and furniture from the 1950s to the 1970s. The curators include expert in 20th-centry decorative arts Guillame Cuiry and Chrystyna Salam. The gallery has been transformed into an European/French apartment around which visitors can wander, marvelling at rare and iconic pieces.

The exhibits include paintings by Jacques Nestlé (from the period 1950-1965) and works from the 1950s-1960s by ceramicists such as Roger Capron, Pol Chambost, Peter and Denise Orlando and George Jouve.

Selections talked to Chrystyna Salam and Guillame Cuiry about some of the stunning pieces that make up the exhibition, and the philosophy behind it. Cuiry wanted to set up a frame of reference for the items he was bringing to the city.

“People here had never been exposed to furniture from the 40s, 50s and 60s,” he says. “So we decided to rethink. La Galerie Nationale decided to present The Apartment – to create a whole ambiance and mood. Our apartment evolves – it changes, just like life. I invite you to my home not to a gallery. People want to live here and, since the opening of the gallery, they’re all questioning their decorations – which is not entirely good because we’re not aiming to decorate all the apartments in Dubai, the Middle East, or the entire Earth the same way!”

Salam explains to Selections a little of the history of some of the pieces and artists featured in the exhibition.
“We have important pieces by Pol Chambost and George Jouve, amongst others. We have several, for example, by the ceramicist Roger Capron who lived in Vallauris in Southern France, near Cannes, and undertook a collaboration with Picasso who visited the Medoura ceramic factory there. A lot of Capron’s work is in series, such as the “Africanisme”, in black and white. The pieces of his we have in the exhibition are beautiful, very abstract. We also have an exquisite example of 1948 Medoura ceramic that is very rare. Its design shows the huge influence Asian ceramics had on French pottery of the period.”

Chrystyna is particularly pleased that the gallery has been able to assemble a body of work by Jacques Nestlé, as it is rare to find so many of his paintings in one place.

”Nestlé was a born in Sarre, France, in 1895, and he died in 1989. He was not very well known during his lifetime because he never wanted to commercialize himself. He met Matisse, Kandinskin and all the leading artists. And all of them said to him, “Come and meet my art dealer, he would do wonders for you.” But he said, ‘No I don’t want to paint to anybody’s requirements.’ After he died, an art dealer went to his atelier and found a huge number of wonderful paintings. Nestlé was from a mining area, which is why he used so much black. So there’s the darkness of the mines in his pictures, but there’s always the sun, too. So there’s always hope.”

The Apartment continues at La Galerie Nationale, Dubai.
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By Anastasia Nysten