“Whatever I’m doing, I’m always trying to build this bridge between French art de vivre and Asia,” Arthur de Villepin explains. And so far, he’s succeeded. With the companies under his Art de Vivre Group, Arthur has already introduced Hongkongers to French food, quality wine (through Pont des Arts) and world-class photography (with YellowKorner).
Now, Arthur—a 2016 Generation T lister—is turning his attention to the art world. On Hollywood Road, he’s opening the first Hong Kong outpost of Carré d’artistes, a contemporary art gallery founded in 2001 in the picturesque French city of Aix-en-Provence that now has more than 30 exhibition spaces around the world.
The ethos of Carré d’artistes is to make art affordable and accessible; rather than hosting months-long solo exhibitions, Carré d’artistes showcases works by dozens of different artists at any one time. Before the opening of the gallery, Arthur explains why he wanted to bring this unique concept to Hong Kong and why art should be accessible to everyone.
What was your first encounter with Carré d’artistes?
I was renting an apartment in Paris, in Saint Germain, and 200 metres away from my apartment were two Carré d’artistes galleries. Every day I’d take my croissant or my pain au chocolat and walk by these galleries, and I was really struck by the concept and the people there.
Then I went to Aix-en-Provence for a holiday and I went to Carré d’artistes there. Again, the people had a different approach to the galleries that I was used to.
What makes Carré d’artistes unique?
I was raised with the idea that art is all around, that art is a necessity in society and that we should be confronted with art all the time. Art should be something accessible, not something just for the elite.
When I arrived in Hong Kong, I felt the way people approached art was more towards investment, where you had to understand who the artist was and why they were important. I think Carré d’artistes has a more humble and simple approach, where the focus is on diversifying the number of artists.
It’s not just one solo show at a time—Carré d’artistes shows different types of art, whether it’s sculpture, street art or more classical paintings. I think through this mix, anyone can come into the gallery and discover something that they like.