Cyril Ermel runs IBU GALLERY, one of the most beautiful galleries in Paris located in one of my favorite places in Paris, the Palais Royal. IBU has the most exquisite collection of art, objets, and hand crafted jewelry.
Where were you born, where did you grow up and when did you move to Paris?
I was born in Larmor Plage, a lovely Breton sea resort famous for sailing. I grew up in a boarding Jesuit school and have wonderful memories of those days. I moved to Paris when I was 20, what a year!!!
What is origin of the name IBU?
IBU simply used her initials as her artist’s name. IBU is Irena Borzena Ustjanowski. She was born in Poland and emigrated to New York in the 60’s.
There is a tragic but somehow inspirational story about the owner of the gallery who died. Can you tell us that story?
IBU died in October 2002 in a helicopter accident. Her two daughters Apollonia and Athéna Poilâne asked me to work with them to carry on IBU’s projects/legacy. I did not think twice and stepped in immediately. It was so clear to me that there was no time for lament! Artists are eternal.
When did you start working for IBU GALLERY and how did you get the job?
I met IBU at a vernissage in 1999, where we were introduced to each other thanks to Joyce Ma. It was a fantastic period for IBU, She was presenting her jewelry during the Chanel haute couture shows, exhibiting her first bronzes pieces at Christian Liaigre. Then, she took the gallery space under the arcade of the Palais Royal to exhibit her artworks and to share her visions about art.
My experience with IBU was extraordinary, she became my mentor. I felt so fortunate to be her assistant and to work with her. I remember each and every word of advice from her, cherishing them to this day.
Tell me about the artists you represent and the philosophy of the gallery?Does the gallery have a particular specialty?
At IBU GALLERY we exhibit IBU’s artworks: bronze functional sculptures, sculptures and jewelry… creating a dialogue with other artists who have the same artistic endeavors and shared inspirations.
We exhibit photographs selected by Jayne Baum from the JHB Gallery in New York including Ellen Carey’s 20” x 24” Polaroids side by side and the IBU “soap sculptures” in bronze ; Don Freeman’s giclee prints in coversation with “thank you nature” vases by IBU.
We regularly exhibit a group of South Korean artists discovered and collected by IBU in the 90’s: Lee Ufan, Lee Bae, Choi Byung So, Kim Chun Hwan, works that are sympatique with her dream stone table, levitation consoles…
We also highlight jewelry created by IBU, Ted Muehling, Aude Lechere, Jean Grisoni, Alina Alamoréan, Vincent Vaucher… Always present is IBU’s vision of beauty and art. Her philosophy reigns.
What are your current exhibitions and the story behind them?
Currently on view is a selection of candles and giant vases in bohemian glass and consoles in bronze by Eric Schmitt. In September we will present works on paper by the South Korean artist Kim Chun Hwan, sculptures by Antoine Tarot, and the “beach art” objects by Emile Perauer.
The Palais Royal where the gallery is located has changed a lot in the last few years. Many of the antique shops and galleries have been replaced by big name designer fashion boutiques. How do you feel about the changes and do you think they have a positive or negative effect?
The change at the Palais Royal is really for the best. Not only do well known designers like Marc Jacob and Stella McCartney have a presence in Palais Royal, but It introduces people from the “mass” luxe to a different vision of luxury. Under the arcades, you also have new exquisite boutiques presenting beautiful gloves by Marie Beyer, alternative fashion by Rick Owens, handmade glasses in tortoiseshell from the Maison Bonnet, and of course the Pope of elegance vintage, Didier Ludot. Thereon, all the galleries and shops of the Palais Royal will celebrate Didier in October, exhibiting different versions of the little black dress in his honor.
What neighborhood do you live in and what are some of your favorite things & places?
I leave near the Parc des Buttes Chaumont. Trees and nature are important to me, especially outside the windows of my apartment. I am not going to give you a list of shops, food places as there are so many… but my favorite promenade after work : from the Palais Royal I walk to the Pyramides du Louvre, cross the garden of the Tuileries, end at the front of the Musée du Jeu de Paume. Look at the Concorde, Champs Elysée, Grand Palais, Tower Eiffel… it is so cliché but it stills moved me so much and make me happy even after twenty years in Paris.
What’s the most exciting thing about your work?
My relationship with the artists. I love them, they live in a different world. They understand and respond to life in an extraordinary, creative way and to present their visions is so enriching and fulfilling. I also have a very privileged relationship with my clients.
Who is the one person, living or dead, that you would love to come to the gallery?
Baron Haussmann, he was such a visionary. He brought Paris from the middle age to the 20e century, keeping the spirit, and an aesthetic unity. I admire him!
What do you prefer about Paris?
Every day is like the first time, the first day I set foot in Paris.
166 Galerie de Valois-Palais Royal
Metro:Palais Royal/Musee de Louvre
Open Tuesday 2-7PM, Wed.- Sat. 11AM-1PM, 2PM-7PM ,Tel.01 42 60 06 41