Living the Colombian dream through art

Thierry Harribey was the guest at the last meeting of the Tourism and Hotel Business Administration Faculty’s "Creative and innovators that inspire" talks cycle.

In 1984, Thierry Harribey was a Frenchman beginning his working life in an insurance company. Over the years, due to his excellent work, he continued to be promoted, reaching high-ranking positions. In 2008, his employer offered him the opportunity to move to Bogotá, Colombia to manage the company’s branch office. Without thinking twice, Harribey packed his bags and arrived without knowing anything about our country.

His company gave him a tour and information on the major highlights of the capital.  After a year’s work, learning some Spanish, and getting used to Bogotá, Thierry, one day, took off his tie, let his hair and beard grow, and quit his job. “I did not ask for advice; my children are independent, and I was tired of doing the same job,” stated the guest.

After this decision, Thierry turned to what he had always liked: art. He explored several neighborhoods in Bogotá and ultimately found a house in La Candelaria, and decided, besides living there, to establish an art gallery, which today is known as “Nee Bex.”

The Frenchman created this place with three goals in mind: promote young and emerging artists in the country, his love for art and, obviously, to somehow, make a living.

Today, at age 52, he does not regret leaving a stable job that would have provided him a pension and financial peace of mind because he is fulfilling one of his life dreams.

Even though his income is not huge – Harribey says art in Colombia is undervalued – he likes to change the Gallery every month and help students pursuing Master’s and specializations degrees in Art.

The guest commented the gallery’s visitors are 75 percent Colombian and 25 percent foreigners; as far as purchases, 70 percent are foreigners. “While Colombians visit the gallery, they are not very interested in purchasing pieces, and I have not only pictures, art also is photos, installations, sculptures, videos.”

Despite the above, Thierry highlighted Colombians’ warmth and stated this country is where he wants to spend the rest of his life.