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Jessica Barouch: Collecting Crushes

May 27, 2019

TLmag talks to this young gallerist and interior designer on her lifetime passion for collecting her “crushes” and her apartment gallery’s latest exhibition.

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With a flair for simplicity, and interiors that radiate warmth and soul, Jessica Barouch’s multi-faceted approach to collecting has manifested itself in her very own gallery: Galerie JAG. Designed like a cosy apartment in Paris’s 7th arrondissement, Barouch’s gallery presents a collection of rareobjets d’artand furniture, with its latest exhibition focusing on the work of Dutch artist Floris Wubben. TLmag talks to this young gallerist and interior designeron the challenges she had when opening her gallery, the new exhibition and her lifetime passion for collecting her “crushes”.

TLmag: You’ve described yourself as a lifetime collector. How has your mode of collecting evolved?

Jessica Barouch (JB): Correct, I’ve been passionate about collecting for as long as I can remember. I first started collecting smaller pieces, like jewellery. Back then, I was creating and manufacturing jewellery myself at the time, so that made sense. As I started getting more into interior design and started buying bigger pieces for my clients, I started getting more into bigger pieces. I slowly worked my way up from smaller pieces like vases and ceramics to complete furniture pieces. A few of the gallery’s standout pieces are chairs by Georges Nakashima, armchairs by Guillerme et Chambron, tables by Paul Kingma, lights by Isamu Noguchi, ceramics by Jean Lurçat and, of course, Floris Wubben’s new pieces. 

TLmag: How do you select what you collect?

JB: It’s an organic feeling, really. It’s like I get a crush on them; I get a tingly feeling inside, an emotional response. That’s exciting, and the most important thing; I don’t collect a single design, name or artist — it’s all about that crush-y feeling.

TLmag: You founded JAG Gallery ten years ago. Could you tell us a bit about what it was like to open your gallery?

JB: I decided to open a gallery to fulfil my passion for collecting in a way — I wanted a place where I could show all my crushes! Opening a gallery in Paris seemed like the obvious choice for me: it just felt right. I was born there, studied there and my family is also here. I also had this unbelievably fantastic opportunity to situate myself near the Eiffel Tower, which is such an unmissable “Parisian” element that I wanted my gallery to have.

The biggest challenge I had when making up the gallery space is that I wanted it to have a warm and inviting atmosphere. The city is already filled up by so many cold, white-cube gallery spaces in which people don’t feel like that they can even walk into the space, let alone ask questions. I wanted people to feel like they could open the door to my gallery without feeling self-conscious, so I decided to model it as if it were an apartment: you can find everything from candles and smaller pieces from big names in the design world to complete furniture sets and artworks. I actually also call it my “apartment gallery”!

TLmag: Is there a difference between your “apartment gallery” and your apartment?

JB: I think they’re quite similar, because — obviously — my gallery is a reflection of the things that I like. There is one main difference though; colour. I’m more into natural, neutral tones like wood, bronze, natural stone and Marmorino. For the gallery, I try to add a pop of colour here and there, taking into account the tastes of other people. In general, though, it’s all the same universe.

TLmag: The June exhibition will be focusing on Floris Wubbe’s work. Could you share some details on this “crush” of yours?

JB: Floris was a big crush of mine from the very beginning — and I’m proud to say that I represent him exclusively in France. He’s a contemporary designer that works with ceramics. I say designer and not ceramicist because his pieces come from an exact and surprising technique of extrusion through self-designed machines. With this almost low-tech form of manufacturing, he consistently creates these unique objects that have this powerful and masculine energy about them. His brutalist approach to creating is fascinating to me, and I find that within his pieces, you can still feel that raw and natural materiality that you don’t get much anymore.

TLmag: How do you exhibit his work in the gallery and still maintain that apartment feeling?

JB: When I focus on artists at our gallery I make sure that most of the pieces that I’m showing are part of their oeuvre — but I never leave my other crushes out in the cold. For Floris’ exhibition, we’ll be showing this big new table of his alongside some ceramic pieces he created alongside different designs from other artists. All the pieces in the space are mixed and compliment each other. I like to think that a dialogue can start between them.

This new exhibition focusing on Floris Wubben’s work will be on view from the 3rd until the 21st of June at Galerie JAG.

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