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Sylvie Tiago

Created in 2013, Galerie Tiago is located in the heart of Carré Rive Gauche in Paris, between Saint-Germain-des-Près, the Orsay museum and the Louvre museum.

The gallery specialises in Momoyama, Edo and Meiji works of art. Namban, lacquer, screen, European furniture, and curiosities come together in a unique way.

Passionate about the ‘Grand Siècle’, Galerie Tiago loves to combine objects from different horizons, periods, styles, and artists in order to invent a unique decorative universe.

Sylvie Tiago, head of the Tiago gallery agreed to answer our questions. This is the opportunity to learn more about her career and her gallery.

First, could you describe your background? Why this specialization in Asian art?

I worked in many galleries before opening Tiago Gallery in 2013. The Galerie des laques was particularly important in my career, having a special affinity for these objects and for Japan. My sensitivity to art has always been present. As a child, I used to visit auctions, museums and galleries: I dreamed of being an archaeologist or an auctioneer!

Japanese literature, manga and other demon stories were a real gateway to the Asian continent. Manga marked my generation and nourished a fascination for Asia and its mysteries.

Can you describe your gallery?

Cabinet of curiosity! I like the idea of different objects that we try to assemble. The objects that I select from public sales, unpacking or private collections always fascinate me. In the Tiago gallery, you can find screens, lacquerware, Japanese bronzes, ikebana baskets, as well as some screens and Chinese porcelain, Louis XV armchairs and bookcases and a contemporary desk.

The attention to detail, the perfectionism, always animates me as well in the interaction with the customer as in the selection of the objects. Particular attention is paid to the quality and the origin of each of the works presented in the gallery. Service, what I would call "French service" is also inherent to my way of working. My job is above all a job of curiosity about objects but also about people: I like the idea of finding the perfect object for a client and always show him its importance. Today, the internet has profoundly changed the nature of the gallery business, so I always pay particular attention to the care of each relationship with clients. The moment of purchase is also part in the history of the object!

Finally, the Tiago gallery is a family business: I work with my son and I am surrounded by a husband who is a collector, a passion that he has passed on to my children.

The focal point in your gallery?

A large suzuribako, a writing box, dating from the Edo period (1603-1868). On its cover is a mountainous landscape, crossed by a river, bordered by two houses and trees (pine trees, cherry trees in bloom). Its background is gilded according to the fundame technique. It could be the Okabe station, opened in 1602. It was the 21st of the 53 stations of Tokaido, the main axis of Japan in the Edo period.

It represents well what fascinates me in Japanese art, the absence of emptiness: each object has a function, a name, a sense of detail pushed to the extreme.

Which artist or work would you like to present?

My dream is to do an exhibition of Nanban art. Nanban means "the barbarians of the south" in Japanese, in other words the Portuguese, merchants or missionaries who came to the archipelago in the 16th century. It is a fascinating period, the meeting of two cultures, Japanese and European. The interaction was so important that some Portuguese words remain in Japanese and vice versa, for example "tabaco" which becomes "tabako".

These exchanges have nourished a very particular art, the chests in particular, with a European shape to which Japanese lacquer is added. These are magnificent objects, full of history.

Coffre de style namban à couvercle demi-cylindrique en bois laqué noir (urushi) et or (maki-e) et incrusté de nacre (raden)

Namban style chest with a semi-cylindrical lid made of black (urushi) and gold (maki-e) lacquered wood and inlaid with mother of pearl (raden)

Has a particular work marked you during your career?

A suzuribako, which particularly intrigued the Japanese art historian Mari Terakawa. Her work on the piece was remarkable! This suzuribako represented a landscape with different banners on the pattern designating locations. Through her research, she identified them, which made it possible to add maps and prints.

What I like is to always learn something, every object is a quest. At the back of the gallery is a library with nearly 200 books that document all the works. It is absolutely fascinating work.

Your latest artistic favourite?

It's a ceramist, Haruhiko Kanekode from the Ishigaki-yaki workshop.

A favourite museum?

In France, it’s the Ennery museum, which particularly seduces me by its logic of curiosity cabinet and accumulation of objects. It presents some sublime Nanban style chests. The museum will reopen soon and the Printemps Asiatique will be a wonderful opportunity to rediscover it!

Abroad, it is the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon. He is THE collector par excellence, he has everything: Islamic art, Asian art, Egyptian art, impressionism. He has swept through the entire history of art, all periods and continents.

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