Églantine Dargent-Guy opened her art gallery back in 2016, fulfilling a dream she had harboured for many years. ‘La Réserve’ is a small premises split into an exhibition space and a framing workshop, which has quietly taken up residence at 20 rue du Barbâtre in Reims. Having cherished all forms of art from an early age, the store owner’s deep sensitivity translates into a discreet form of commitment to her work: to celebrate artistic disciplines to the same degree that she has been rewarded by them.
Églantine had the epiphany eight years ago when she met a gallery owner/picture framer. Combining these two businesses to ensure her project was viable seemed a logical step for her because, in spite of all the challenges that come with owning a gallery, she wanted to fill her time doing something she loved. She then decided to train in art framing and open her own studio once she had gained the corresponding qualifications. Just four years later, after building the foundations of her business on her sense of craftsmanship, she founded La Réserve.
This ‘artisanal’ aspect is present in all of Églantine’s work – in fact, it’s an essential part of the artists’ work that she exhibits. By way of example are Lluís Pericó’s oils on wood and Anouk Albertini’s sculptures, which show that these artists have truly mastered their respective materials and techniques. But above and beyond the visual quality of a piece, Églantine is primarily interested in the poetry which emerges from it: “It can appear in a single piece but often, it’s only by discovering the ensemble of the artist’s work and their creative process over a long period of time that I feel moved. That’s the moment the whole dimension of the artist’s work comes into play for me, when I discover their world.”
As if to get a better sense of her own feelings, the gallery owner likes to add words to the pieces. Her mother instilled an interest in literature and poetry in her from a very young age, and the exhibition catalogue is the medium which allows her to write the story she wants to tell. The narrative starts from the moment she hangs up the pieces on the wall, when she searches for words to go with them “until it flows, until the story makes sense.”
Églantine selects artwork according to encounters,
eye-catching pieces and opportunities. For her, a gallery owner should act on
their instinct above all else. “When I try to change to align with
what visitors tell me, it doesn’t work. What I’ve noticed in most cases is that
the pieces I sell are the ones that I’d like to be given myself. ”
Speaking with sincerity about what moves her is in fact the essence of her work, and it does not stop with the artwork on the walls. Another way in which she strives to assert her values is by running her business single-handedly. She wants to make art accessible for everyone and offers a range of formats, media, prices and genres with this goal in mind.
Establishing a relationship of trust with her artists is her other priority and this requires her to be a constant source of support: if needed, she offers them advice, helps them with administrative tasks, gives them increased visibility and writes about their work.
Églantine seeks to approach art as a whole. A vision that she rediscovered last year on a trip to Japan, particularly on the artistic island of Naoshima: “Everything is interconnected there, everything is designed to add its dimension to the piece.” For her, Japan was a true aesthetic revolution. “There is a kind of interlocking between nature, art and the meaning of transmission… A kind of art of living within oneself, an intrinsic side both to people and things.”
Églantine has taken a keen interest in ceramics and land art since returning from the trip, and would like to develop projects along these lines. A perfect match with her artistic collection, which mostly comprises landscapes, clean lines and minimalism; silent pieces whose simplicity – on the surface at least – has a taste for the essential.