Furnace | Chen Jiagang

Furnace 2008 | Photograph 98,4 x 59 Inch

Discover the biography and all work of the artist

INTERVIEW | Davide Fregonese Head of sales Europe

Carmignac Gestion, Paris

How long have you been surrounded by contemporary art in your working environment?

DF : I have worked at Carmignac Gestion for four years. Of course art is important in a city like Paris, but it is also has a strong presence in the workplace at Carmignac Gestion, and in my office in Milan, I was allowed to « borrow » pieces from the Paris offices.

Can I ask you why you have chosen to hang the work « Furnace » by the Chinese photographer Chen Jiagang in your office?

DF : It was initially for its unusual colour scheme (the dark brown is dominant), its striking composition, and the presence of three young girls. I subsequently felt that this image illustrates perfectly the industrial transformation taking place in emerging countries. I found the message powerful and sad.

Where does the feeling of sadness come from, do you think?

DF : The sense of melancholia is perhaps due to the history of the building. It was one of thousands of factories built towards the end of Mao’s reign and destroyed under Deng Xiaoping when the country began  operating a market economy. It is an image of present-day ruin with a sense of nostalgia heightened by the presence of three young girls who look tiny next to the enormous scale of the factory.

Were you interested in contemporary art before working in this environment every day?

DF : I began to find out about contemporary art in 2004, for business reasons, as an investment. For example, I had an opportunity to travel in India and became interested in certain emerging artists. I also support the painter Massimo Gurnari, a pop artist. We have become friends despite having very different lifestyles. I particularly love painting, and he paints tattoos and pin-ups from the 1960s, like another artist whose canvases I buy, Laura Giardino. I love having these paintings at home and discussing them with my friends.

At work, does the art have another function than simply decorating the walls ? Do you discuss it with your colleagues?

DF : Yes. When I interview candidates, it allows me to assess their creativity and their descriptive abilities. Clients stop in front of certain images and we can talk about them. The strangeness of some of them can be arresting and becomes a topic of conversation.

Does the fact that these paintings are masterpieces change the way you look at them?

DF : To be honest, yes. When I know that it is a major work of art, I stop and take the time to reflect and reconsider my view.

Has this collection encouraged you to buy art yourself?

DF : Yes, of course. My house is literally covered with works of art. It is an ever evolving activity and the most effective way to  challenge the senses.

Does it help you in your work to be surrounded by art?

DF : I feel privileged to work in this company, as we work for ten or twelve hours a day and it is important to be in a nice environment. Here you can turn your head and think creatively. It is a window that opens out onto the world.

Do you think that artistic creativity and the world of finance have anything in common?

DF : If I were to be sarcastic, I could talk about the role of creativity during the financial crisis !! On a more serious note, the common element for me between the two activites is the ability to have a vision. An artist is continually trying to make their vision real. In the same way, I must transform my vision into a tangible action.

Interview by Matthieu Poirier