Collector profile: Paul-Emmanuel Reiffers
Contemporary Art | A feeling of space and freedom permeates Paul-Emmanuel Reiffers’s childhood spent in the Ivory Coast, where he grew up in an environment of “tolerance and an openness to others.” His father expatriates to Abidjan in the 1960’s, choosing to work abroad as an alternative to military service. He founds a consultancy business and plays an active role in the country’s economic boom, giving his son a taste for exploring all possibilities.
Every year, Paul-Emmanuel visits his artistically inclined grandparents and their taste for collecting feeds his young imagination. From their 18th century and Impressionist collection, a Paul Gauguin painting leaves a lasting mark : a window onto another world, an escape. When he was 14, his family returned to Aix-en-Provence, “a straightjacket” for the adolescent. In Paris at age 16, he once again finds the spirit of free mixing and mingling that he desperately craves : “In Paris, you remake your life every day.”
“Newness is a way of inventing today.” For Paul-Emmanuel Reiffers, founder of Mazarine communication group, contemporary art directly engages with the vitality of the new. “We are a creative agency, and for us artists are precursors, one step ahead.”
At 26, he uses his agency’s first profits to begin collecting. While reading the Gazette de Drouot, the bible of the day, he is struck by two Victor Brauner gouaches, of a hen and a fish. Buying art procures “unknown pleasure” and biding in auction thrills him. In Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne’s studio, he falls in love with a pair of monkeys that he associates with his collection of African masks.
“Collecting gives you an idea of yourself.” For over 20 years, Paul-Emmanuel Reiffers shapes and reshapes his collection, following his own personal evolution, making fossilization impossible. Purchases are premeditated, decisions are made outside the frenzy of the marketplace, like his blue Louise Bourgeois sculpture. Other pieces by Antony Gormley, Betrand Lavier and Tatiana Trouvé conflate distant memories with the present day. Douglas Gordon’s mirror works and those of the young Polish artist Alicja Kwade trouble reality, reversing and traversing time and space. “I want art to be present in my work space.” The pieces in his office, on the other hand, are chosen for their strong visual impact and stimulating intensity.
After a first solo show for Claude Lévêque organized in 2013 at Mazarine in collaboration with Kamel Mennour Gallery, Paul-Emmanuel Reiffers makes exhibiting a regular occurrence at the Studio des Acacias, a space that he resurrects in 2014 with an artistic vocation. He conceives it as a venue combining art and luxury : exhibitions in collaboration with major international galleries, and supported by brands, of never before seen works, with one always bought for his collection : Mark Handforth, Matthew Day Jackson and Rashid Johnson…
“Art creates a dematerialization of money. It is an outlet, a release.” Buying is also a means of supporting artists : a responsible “non rational” investment.