• gerard van weyenbergh

A 24 years old opens Galerie des Oublies, The Gallery of the Forgotten.

When there is talk of new confinement and that some traders must go out of business, Gallery of the forgotten is preparing to open to the general public. At 24 and in a health crisis, Léopold Cottineau does not seem stressed to inaugurate this Thursday near the Cambronne courtyard in Nantes, his art gallery (authorized to open unlike museums). The young man believes strongly in his concept, "which does not exist anywhere else": at the Gallery of the Forgotten, no major signature but only works by strangers from the last century, who have not collected the success they would have deserved.

"Some artists, shy or introverted, have not known how to spread their talent because of their personality, observes Léopold Cottineau. There are also the fads, which can sometimes prevent this meeting with the public. The idea germinated in this grandson of collectors through visits to studios with his mother, a painter. "It's always very moving because there are treasures, paintings that do not move for decades and then are dispersed during the succession. I wanted to show these artists, these people who have sometimes painted in the shadows all their lives, without ever being influenced. It is in this freedom that they are interesting. "

"The characteristic of a painting is to be seen"

On the walls of the small gallery, around twenty paintings by Menachem Geffen are exhibited. This first "forgotten" is named since if an American museum ordered several paintings from him, they quickly joined the reserves and never left them again. As for the colorful portraits of women visible until the end of March, they were exhibited in London in the 1960s before resting since then in a cellar. Until the artist's widow agreed to entrust them to the Nantes gallery.

Thanks to his acquaintances who contact him, the young gallery owner has already selected, "on objective and subjective criteria". Seven other artists will be honored in the coming months. Unlike Menachem Geffen, some will be without having asked for it during their lifetime, like Pierre Jourdan. A "teacher with a thousand hidden paintings" who "only showed his work to his close friends", indicates the site of the gallery . "But he signed them, which shows a desire to be part of a certain posterity," indicates Léopold Cottineau. The characteristic of a painting is to be seen. It is the way we look at them that makes them exist. "

Ultimately, the Forgotten Gallery's goal is to attract museums' interest in the hope of one day being the source of real revelations. In the meantime, the gallery assumes the risk that the initiative will remain confidential: "A form of intimacy above all guides the process," says Léopold Cottineau. But people need beauty right now, they shouldn't hesitate to push open the door. "

The Forgotten Gallery, 2 rue de Bréa in Nantes. © 20minutes.fr , Julie Urbach