Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Bleu | Hervé Saint-Hélier

Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Bleu 1999 | Photograph 66 x 44.4 inches

Discover the biography and all work of the artist

INTERVIEW | Dominique Dall'Acqua, Human resources

Carmignac Gestion, Paris

What effect does it have on you to work in a place where there is a lot of art on the walls?

DD : There were lots of canvases and photographs here when I arrived six years ago, and new work is regularly being added to the collection. I find that very stimulating. Having direct access to the art is significant. In a museum, the work is often protected. Here they form part of our daily lives. I also like the fact that there is work from the 20th and 21st century on display in an 18th century setting. The contrast is striking and the gilding accentuates the contemporary work.

Of the work here, you would like to talk to us about the piece by the photographer Hervé Saint-Hélier, Kanagawa Kenmin Hall Bleu, 1999. What does it conjure up for you ?

DD : Firstly, it's necessary to say that this is an image of a waiting room in a Palais des Congrès in Japan. I looked it up and discovered that it is a well-known centre. What first struck me were the bluish colours that are dominant. The room is vast and three people are sitting on the bench in the centre. They're not looking at each other. You get the impression that there is no communication at all between them. The young woman is holding a mobile phone in her hand as if it was the only way to make contact with the outside world. There is also a television that is switched on. And then, there is this blue colour enveloping everything like a cocoon, and lights in the ceiling that shine like stars. I find it a very warm image : for me, there is no sense of coldness or anxiety. These three people, rather lost in the huge space, look like they were in need of a moment's peace, and are resting and letting time go by before heading back into the crowd.

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

DD : 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.

Do you think that your job as Human Resources Manager gives you a particular perspective on this photograph ?

DD : On the face of it, I would say no, but ultimately it must play a part. The essential thing for me is the attitude of these three people and the relationship between them. I wonder about the human relationships, and why they don't talk to each other. Has there been some sort of argument ?...But like I said, it doesn't have a negative interpretation for me.

Do you see a relationship between contemporary art, in all its forms of expression and experimentation, and your profession ?

DD : I think there is in some distant kind of way. My profession is based on the law and rules that must be followed, whereas Hervé Saint-Hélier works in a world where creativity and imagination are key. I have studied his work and I have seen lots of other photos where the sky, space and luminous colours dominate. But working in human resources doesn't prevent you from appreciating art !

Do the many works of art on permanent display at Carmignac Gestion give rise to discussions between colleagues ?

DD : Yes, with certain people. Every time a new piece arrives at the company, Monsieur Carmignac invites us to come and have a look at it, and that can prompt discussions amongst us. Also, it may be possible to ask for the work to be hung in our office, as Monsieur Carmignac is keen that the art circulates. And it is always enjoyable when people come for interview, as they are usually entranced by what they see. You realise then how privileged we are.

Of the work you're surrounded by, which are the pieces that you prefer ?

DD : I love the painting by Calder. I think it is wonderful. It is painted in black and white and has a great energy. I am always in awe when I stand in front of it. I love its luminosity and its style full of curves. I wouldn't mind having it in my office ! Are you artistic ? DD : I studied Fine Art, and although I didn't carry on with it, I have always been interested in all kinds of art. I often go to exhibitions. I also like to go the cinema and the theatre. I have spent a lot of time dancing, but I have to say that since I started working, I have a lot less time...

What do you expect from a work of art ?

DD : Above all, I expect to be entranced, as I tend to follow my heart. If I go to see an exhibition of an artist I like, I will stop in front of a canvas. I don't know what it is that attracts me to this canvas, perhaps the colours, the form, the materials...but it is the gut instinct that counts...

Are you interested in the value of the artists on show here ?

DD : I was when I was in charge of insurance, and in truth it was a surprise. The art market had shot up and certain canvases became phenomenally valuable !...

And did you suddenly see them in a different light ?

DD : No, as they were paintings that I already appreciated ; and then, I don't think you appreciate a painting according to how much it is worth.

Interview by Elisabeth COUTURIER