The Galerie Corps et Âme (translated ‘Body and Soul Gallery’) in Nîmes city centre is a contemporary art dealership with a youthful spirit and a passion for the human body.

Benjamin Carbonne, CO18, 100 x 100cm, Acrylic on canvas, 2 500 EurosFrom sculptures of minotaurs and dancers, manga-style canvases of robotic ‘femme fatale’, colourful collage works of Flamenco dancers, expressionist nudes and moody portraits of the male body in the work of this month’s principal exhibitor, Benjamin Carbonne, in its current mix there is something for everyone to enjoy.

The Galerie Corps et Âme is a relatively new addition to the art scene in Nîmes, a historic city in Southern France boasting a rich cultural heritage and enviable Roman ruins. The gallery is situated in the heart of Nîmes, in between the grand Roman arena and Sir Norman Foster’s contemporary art complex, the Carré d’art. Its owner is the passionate Loup Trentin, a young artist and art agent from Montpellier who worked part time with his colleagues to help establish the gallery. Its young vibe and its prime location in the city centre perhaps served it very well, as after the economic crisis many existing art dealerships in Nîmes closed. Galerie Corps et Âme is one of only two contemporary art galleries left. And it is thriving. After three years of gradual expansion, the gallery now boasts a new monochrome exhibition space, represents twenty eight artists and holds a new exhibition opening each month.

…the black and white tone conjures a sombre, dark mood…

Benjamin Carbonne, CO18, 130 x 80cm, Acrylic on Canvas, 3000 EurosThe gallery space is currently dominated by the work of French expressionist artist, Benjamin Carbonne. Capturing part s of the male body in movement and focusing particularly on the torso, Carbonne’s works have a dramatic effect. Their stark chiaroscuro, loose, expressive style and sheer scale reminds one of Old Master sketches, as do their half finished appearance. However, they jolt sharply into the realm of contemporary art with their cut off heads or lower halves, Carbonne focusing on sections, avoiding or emotively scrubbing out the face of his model. His works slightly remind one of Francis Bacon’s disturbing papal canvases. The effect of this rendering and the black and white tone conjures a sombre, dark mood. However, the flash of brightness from the rippling musculature and closely observed detail combined with the energy-filled strokes of his brush entrance the eye and suggest that the mood will pass.

By contrast to Carbonne’s melancholic works, on the opposite wall the gallery springs into life through another French artist, Joscia. Her collage canvases of flamenco dancers (displayed in equally colourful frames), reference the popular Spanish-influenced bullfighting culture of the region.

…a great insight into a lively and mixed body (or rather, ‘bodies’) of contemporary French art…

The gallery’s dynamic, local outlook can be sensed in its activities for last year’s celebrations for the biannual Nîmes Feria. It opened its doors to host a DJ booth for the Feria’s street party outside. In the future it also hopes to pioneer a Rue d’Art (‘Road of Art’), where all the shops on the street host art exhibitions and synchronised openings. Their current exhibitor Carbonne is also a key artistic figure in the Nîmes region. He has been appointed to work on a wall mural project for the upcoming celebrations of the Marseille-Provence 2013 European Capital of Culture.

In the coming months European eyes will be turned towards the area. Anyone visiting Nîmes and wanting a great insight into a lively and mixed body (or rather, ‘bodies’) of contemporary French art, the Galerie Corps et Âme is one to visit.

La Galerie Corps et Âme, 1 bis, rue Emile Jamais, Nimes, 30900.

Next Exhibition: MIREILLE BALP, ‘Peintures’, 8 Mars-6 Avril 2013 (Exhibition Opening- 8th March from 6pm).

About The Author

Art historian, arts writer, presenter and illustrator. Communications officer for the Corps et Âme Gallery, Nîmes, France. @EmmaNDouble. For arts film reports, see here: http://www.youtube.com/user/emmandouble

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