The artist Yves Dana takes a break while installing the exhibition that launches the gallery © Flon Events

Flon Square Gallery in the throbbing alternative district of Lausanne, introduces a novel urban art concept: an exhibition space with no walls, not even a door. Art is showcased in elegant glass cubes on a new-age piazza, on view 24/7 to accidental onlookers and art amateurs alike. The strong and delicate sculptures of Yves Dana launch the gallery.

Imagine visiting a gallery without walking in. The Flon Square Gallery is a space that exposes works of art not inside, nor out, but both at the same time. Five large glass cases illuminate an open public space that becomes a gallery – with its own calendar of exhibitions and inaugurations.

Originally designed as window shops, they have been transformed to integrate art meaningfully into a contemporary landscape.

“What really appealed to me was the idea that the gallery never closes” says Yves Dana, a sculptor of world repute who lives in Lausanne and whose works will be the first on show. His sculptures are finding their way into prestigious museums and galleries in various parts of the world, including the Guggenheim in Bilbao and L&M Arts in New York, but he hasn’t had a personal exhibition in Lausanne for the past 20 years.

A film that documents the trip Dana made in 1996 to Egypt where he was born, completed by scenes from today, will be shown in two covered venues during the exhibition.

“It was amazing for me to discover that what I did then, gives meaning to what I do today” says Dana. A former mathematics professor, he gave up teaching for sculpture that gives him “the roots that my exiled spirit was looking for.”

Yves Dana’s finely carved figures, although in stone, have the grace of the rising sun, a quality that the lighting in the Flon glass cubes aim to enhance.

Flon Events has masterminded the concept of the unusual gallery. It is an offspring of the Lausanne-Ouchy Holding that owns the former industrial wasteland, now transformed into Lausanne’s modest version of New York’s SoHo. It is fast becoming the heart of the city and is contributing to Lausanne’s reputation as the most exciting place in Switzerland for the young.

“Once the architectural transformations had taken place, we still needed a cultural cement,” Laurent Rivier, the distinguished and gracious chairman of L-O Holding and director of Flon Events (as well as being a world expert on toxicology), told Swisster.

“Being private gives us freedom of choice in terms of development. We want to contribute to the high level of cultural vitality and the gallery, for instance, is a way of giving talented artists ‘extra-ordinary’ visibility” he said, basically defining how the Flon, against expectations, has avoided becoming another Swiss urban disaster. “We have no choice but to be different . . .”

The person who makes the artistic choices for Flon Events and director of Flon Square Galerie is the vivacious and intensely charming Helene Demont-Catsikas. She has lined up the exhibitions that will follow Dana’s, including with the mysteriously playful sculptor Zarik, but she also organizes ice skating rinks, cartoon festivals and street painting.

She explains:”We have been given a wonderful space to play with, so the concept of the gallery is not to bring people to art, but to bring art to people.”

Michèle Laird, née Haffner, was an international arts administrator (visual arts and theatre), successively in Paris, New York and London, before moving to Switzerland and becoming an arts journalist.

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