Odile Oms – A door to art

3 By Ellen Hall 3

The door of Galerie Odile Oms at 12 Rue du Commerce in Ceret is closed. Odile Oms says it is important to mark the difference between street and gallery, noise and silence, art and tourism.

Turn the handle and walk in. The white walls are splashed with Goyaesque figures by Caillard in vivid reds and greens.
Towards the back garden another room is filled with works of modern masters like Brune, Derain and Vives. The gallery’s mission is clear: to present contemporary and modern art with local connections.

On the same cobbled street where her great grandmother kept a grocery shop, Odile and her painter husband, Christian, bought no. 12 as a family home and workshop. Through Christian and his circle of artists Odile became fascinated with painting. When the bank where she had been working was restructured, she took the opportunity to open her own gallery on the ground floor of their house. That was exactly ten years ago.

The first exhibition was of 40 paintings by Pinkus Kremegne, who had fled Belarus and eventually found refuge in Ceret. The show was a noteworthy success and assured the gallery’s future. She continued to explore the history of modern art in the region with shows of Pignon, Loutreuil and Derain.

In exhibiting contemporary painters Odile tries to give artists a space where people can come and “look and look again, get to know and learn to love” the paintings. Emmanuel Bolzoms’ surreal creatures (Dali comes to mind) and Julien Descossy’s meditative watery landscapes are examples of a new generation of painters promoted by the gallery.

Odile’s office is on the first floor in a small room painted a restful green. In this inner sanctum, in the course of a conversation, drawings and paintings are produced to illustrate a point. She is forever in the process of discovering what painting is and what it can become. “You have to stand alone, in silence, in front of a canvas and give it your complete attention. Only in this way can the dialogue between you and the painting take place. A painting is produced layer by layer, and it is the same with our perception.”

In December, to celebrate the gallery’s 10th anniversary, Odile will mount a retrospective exhibition. She relishes the opportunity to create a show of her own personal choices. In February 2010 she will exhibit the Ceretan artist, Christine Costeseque, whose work Odile describes as “subtle, with soft and transparent colours, uncannily both abstract and figurative.”

So, why not open that door? You may find yourself wanting to return for another look, another dialogue.

[(Opening hours and complete gallery information available at [www.odileoms.com->www.odileoms.com])]

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