Philippe Schuermans, when objects tell stories

After scouring the oceans around the world, Philippe Schuermans stopped to Paul Bert Serpette 12 years ago.  A bit like a puzzle, this antique dealer develops sets inspired by his life path, objects of emotion, hunted with his heart, with theatrical dimensions. Dive into this globetrotter's world, passionate and inspiring.

What is your background ?

I've always loved collecting. When I was a child, I liked to build my little cabinet of curiosity by picking pieces of earthenware, odd-shaped pebbles, insects, little skeletons of mice. I had tinkered a cariole that I hung behind my bike to make the bulky, and when I had collected enough items, I sold them on the flea markets of the villages.

I started the trade as an antique dealer quite late. I wanted to practice in the field of art or antiques for a very long time and after having many other lives, I finally started. I always said that life was short and we had to try to achieve a maximum of things. I was a professional skipper, I traveled the oceans. I thus started at the flea by presenting "trophies" collected around the globe during these years. It was an atmosphere of curiosity cabinet with whale vertebrae, narwhal teeth, skeletons of birds and dolphins, harpoons found on the abandoned bases of whalers in Antarctica ... It's been 12 years since I made this job full time and I have evolved.

Now what do you present on your booth ?

Thanks to these trips at sea, I was marked by nature I present many parts made from natural elements, like these mirrors in tree growths, exposed at this moment. Having studied at the Beaux-Arts as a stone sculptor, I am very touched by the approach of the material, the stone, and this is found in my decorations. From this past, I derive a passion for the universe artists' studios. I love the smell of turpentine and old paintbrushes, the stains on the floor as Pollock ...

My life has forged my interest for certain subjects and atmospheres that I try to reconstruct according to what I'm hunting ... It's a bit like fragments from the puzzle of my life. 

I do not have a period of predilection, I create atmospheres. When I find an object, I can visualize with what other object I could present it to create a coherent universe. All this is built like a game of Lego.

My decorations are not fixed and I try to change them regularly. I particularly like to accumulate objects. Cumulative, a simple object takes a whole other dimension and becomes grandiose. I happened to buy a stock of more than a thousand brushes or a hundred-faced ebony hands.

What object of your booth would you like to present to us?

My last find is a plaster horse torso after the antique, perhaps the parthenon. It is a reproduction used in the academies of drawing. The plaster takes the shades and the lights very well. I really like this medium which is a little bit like the poor material of art. The plaster acquires beautiful patina over time and I consider it as noble as bronze or the direct cutting. I've always loved animal art, it probably comes from my grandfather, a former member of the Antwerp zoo company. I spent a lot of time with him there.. Thanks to my travels, I rubbed a lot of wild animals while sailing on the poles. There, the animals do not have the fear of the man and we can approach them very closely.

What does Paul Bert Serpette represent for you?

I visited many flea markets in northern Europe and Paul Bert Serpette is the place where there is the greatest effervescence. Every Friday morning, the booths are busy with news, it reassures visitors who know that if they come 15 days later, they can find completely different things. There is a huge supply of merchandise, found in few places in the world. The wealth of Paul Bert Serpette is its large number of antique dealers. Many of them have become ones lately, by necessity and the risky paths of life. It is a melting pot of personalities.