The South Korean collector and founder of New York’s Shin Gallery on the flea markets, fashion and food hotspots of his native Seoul.

Hong Gyu Shin at his New York apartment

1. My ideal dinner guest and my ideal restaurant destination.

I would love to host Angelina Jolie at Keunkiwajip, a quaint restaurant in the 600 year old Bukchon Village. They specialize in Ganjang-gejang, raw marinated crab, which is made with their soy sauce that has been fermented for around ten years!

2. Where I go in Soul to escape.

Bongeunsa is a Buddhist temple in Gangnam which was founded in 794 CE. The experience of walking through the temple and smelling the incense burning throughout is calming, as I escape by absorbing my surroundings which allows my inner thoughts to subside.

Looking out over the rooftops of the historic Bukchon Hanok Village to modern Seoul beyond

3. The most unlikely thing I love doing in Seoul.

I have an affinity for antiquing and always visit the Seoul Folk Flea Market! I began my collecting journey there when purchasing World World II militaria and antiques, the vendors have the most unexpected and intriguing pieces which continuously spark my curiosity.

Follow LUX on instagram: @luxthemagazine

4. Where I would send a 20 year old party animal friend.

I would definitely send them to Itaewon in Seoul! It’s renowned for the nightlife and mix of International and Korean influences, and also abundant with bars, clubs, and rooftops. It is walking distance from the Leeum Museum of Art, the perfect first destination for a cultural yet lively night.

Bukchon Hanok Village

5. Where I would send a culture animal friend

Bukchon Hanok Village was built in the Joseon dynasty where officials and wealthy nobility lived. There are over 900 houses with traditional Hanok architecture which feature clay, stone floor, and ancient tile roofs.

6.Where I go to discover new art and trends

I discover new art and trends when visiting the multiple contemporary art galleries surrounding Bukchon. The artworks exhibited share the depth of skill obtained by Korean artists and their visionary practices. The MMCA (National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) is also nearby and I always attend when in Seoul.

7. My favorite single dish in the city

I will always get Jajangmyeon, a Korean style Chinese noodle dish topped with a thick sauce made of chunjang, diced pork, and vegetables. It is the ultimate comfort food and an incredibly delicious meal I will forever cherish, especially in Korea for the most authentic and flavourful experience!

The sunset over the high rises in the city of Seoul

8. One development in Seoul I am sad about

Recently there has been an influx of Cafes throughout Seoul which is quite displeasing to see. Many of the traditional and historic restaurants have been replaced with Cafes which is shifting the culture and atmosphere.

9. The best living artists in the city

The best living artists are: the pioneer of avant garde mixed media Kim Kulim and abstract artist Youn Myeung Ro, particularly his 1960s tattoos series.

10. The most interesting place to go clothes shopping

Dongdaemun is one of the largest wholesale and retail shopping districts for Korean street fashion. There are also shops of young fashion designers breaking boundaries within Korean street style, and juxtaposing commercial designs.

Dongdaemun Market

11. One area to keep an eye on over the next couple of years

I am always fascinated by the transformation of the Yongsan District. Since the Korean War it has served as an American military base, and was only converted last year! The base continues to evolve with gardens, museums and nightlight attractions and is an upcoming
cultural destination in Seoul.

12.The best street market in Seoul

The best street market is in the back alley of Jongno 3-ga’s Nagwon Arcade. The street is full of “Pojangmacha” (outdoor food stalls) which sell a variety of freshly made Korean street foods such as Soondae (Korean Sausage), Dakbal (Chicken Feet), Dwaeji Ggupdaegi (Pork
Skin)

13. K drama or K pop

I love both and can not pick! My favorite K pop star is Kim Kwang seok who sadly died at the age of 32.

 

This article was first published in the Autumn / Winter 2023 issue of LUX

shin-gallery.com

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
green vineyard with tree and building and sun

Picasso, Miro, Dali, Richter, Braque: supreme Bordeaux Chateau Mouton-Rothschild has had them all, and many more, create its wine label over the decades. Candice Tucker speaks to Julien de Beaumarchais, from the owning family of the esteemed first growth, about the latest label artist, Chiharu Shiota, whose work adorns the excellent 2021 vintage

LUX: How has your relationship with art changed through the process of commissioning these label artworks?

Julien de Beaumarchais: Before the passing of my mother, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, in 2014, I spent more than 15 years working in the market for Old Master paintings and drawings, the creators of which had been dead for a very long time. So it was a radical change for me when, after 2014, I became responsible for the artists who would illustrate the label for our next vintage. I found myself in contact with famous people with strong personalities who were very much alive, accompanying them throughout their creative adventure for Mouton. From Miquel Barceló to Shiharu Chiota, it has been quite a voyage of discovery into all the diversity and complexity of the leading names of contemporary art.

wine barrels with lights and under the tunnels

Château Mouton Rothschild Winery. Photo by Alain Benoit

LUX: Can you illuminate the relationship of the family with this particular artist Chiharu Shiota? How do you choose your artists?

JB: The choice of the artist is a family affair, made in consultation with the other two owners of Château Mouton Rothschild, my sister Camille Sereys de Rothschild and my brother Philippe Sereys de Rothschild. The artists are chosen first and foremost because we like their work and that they are world renowned. My mother, the late Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (1933- 2014) used to give the following answer to this question, which still holds true today: “I have no particular method or five-year plan: my choice is based on my enthusiasm for an artist’s work. I always establish a personal relationship with them, which often turns into friendship, because I deeply love the art of the painter I ask, and for me each work is an expression of the artist’s love for Mouton and its magic.”

A long time ago my mother told me she had been fascinated by one of Chiharu Shiota’s works, shown alongside those of other young artists, at the Galerie Daniel Templon in Paris. For her, on that day, Chiharu Shiota really stood out, and the future has proved her right. The artist’s fame has grown with the passing years, as has the number of exhibitions of her works around the world, and I in turn have been fascinated by her striking, captivating installations. Chance played an important part too: in 2019, on the occasion of a visit to Château Mouton Rothschild, the director of the Mori Art Center in Tokyo offered me a copy of the magnificent catalogue of the great Chiharu Shiota retrospective at the Mori. Leafing through it, I said to myself “One day I will ask Chiharu Shiota to create an artwork for Mouton”.

 

Read more: Prince Robert de Luxembourg on Art & Fine Wine

 

LUX: Which artists do you wish you had secured in the past, who are now either unavailable or dead?

JB: That’s a very hard question to answer: there are so many wonderful artists we would have liked to work with, but there is only one a year. Those missing from the list who died before we were able to ask them include Louise Bourgeois, Cy Twombly, Vieira da Silva and, more recently, Sam Szafran in 2019… But the most important thing is to focus on the artists to come.

 

LUX: How do you feel the context of the artwork by Chiharu Shiota is influenced by the wine and the vineyard?

JB: When I discovered Chiharu Shiota’s artwork for Château Mouton Rothschild, I was fascinated by her vision, so close to the world of wine, especially in the relationship between humankind and nature. Indeed, the human figure is a fragile silhouette facing nature, gorgeous and generous but seemingly dominant, in the same way that the vinegrower is exposed to the unpredictable power of the vine. Yet the four threads that link them, symbolising the four seasons, show that the grower is also capable of channelling it and guiding it towards the ideal of a great wine. I really love this bright red colour, one of her trademarks, so reminiscent of a fabulous cluster of grapes or of new wine running out of the vats…

Plus, Chiharu Shiota said of his visit to Château Mouton Rothschild: “When I visited Château Mouton Rothschild, I was very inspired by their relationship with nature. They depend on the weather and do not interfere with mother nature. They accept the conditions in which the grapes grow. I think Mouton is holding on to the balance of human and nature.”

a label for wine with an artist image on it

Château Mouton Rothschild 2021 Vintage label by Chiharu Shiota

LUX: Can you further speak to the wider context of art in untraditional spaces, which these commissions exemplify?

JB: It is true that nowadays artistic creation is to be found on a wide variety of media, and sometimes in highly unexpected places. But art on wine labels is not exactly untraditional, at least not for us, and we seem to have set an example for others. However, Mouton occupies a unique position for two reasons: it was the first château to feature labels illustrated with an original artwork (Jean Carlu in 1924), and after that to have asked the greatest names in contemporary art to create an artwork for the label.

 

LUX: Do you think people buy the wines because of the labels?

JB: Yes and no. Château Mouton Rothschild’s success is due above all to the quality of the wine. But art lovers or admirers of a particular artist who has created an artwork for a label may acquire a certain bottle for that reason, or else a wine collector may want to buy a specific vintage to complete their collection of Mouton Rothschild with illustrated labels.

 

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

 

LUX: Would you be able to share about the vineyard’s involvement in the artists process and their work for this commission?

JB: It is very important for us that the artist should come and spend some time at Château Mouton Rothschild, to get a feel for the place, a better understanding of our history, our terroir and the way we make our wine. The visit is often a source of inspiration.

Artists are not given any particular instructions when they create a label for Château Mouton Rothschild: they have entire creative freedom. That being said, many artists have chosen to base their illustration, each in their own way, on subjects related to Mouton, such as the ram and the vine.

There is a long and impressive line of artists who have contributed to these labels, with public access to the original works.

vineyard in yellow light and sky

Château Mouton Rothschild estate. Photo by Alain Benoit

LUX: Can you tell us more about how you may hope to amplify this exhibition?

JB: The exhibition amplifies itself, since a new work is added to the collection each year! But more than amplify, what I would like most is to diversify, in terms of both creative techniques and the geographical origin of our future artists.

Find out more:mouton-rothschild

Share:
Reading time: 6 min
identical men in blue suits in a row with their arm our to shake a hand
A man sitting cross legged with a skull in his lap wearing a suit

Maurizio Cattelan
self-portrait created by the artist and Pierpaolo Ferrari for LUX

Maurizio Cattelan
, Italy’s most celebrated living artist, tells Darius Sanai about surrealism, failing at school, and why art can never be a commentary on society. Pencil Portrait by Jonathan Newhouse. Photographic portraits of Maurizio Catellan created for LUX by the artist

Italy’s greatest living artist – and one of Europe’s most celebrated artists of this century – is also something of a philosopher, if you read some of his sharp-tongued musings over the years; or, indeed, if you look at his art. Among Maurizio Cattelan
’s most celebrated creations are a solid-gold toilet and a very famous banana taped to a wall in an art fair (which was subsequently eaten by an art student).

Some of his work echoes Voltaire, with its artful, humorous but piercing satirisation of elements of our times – until you examine more closely and wonder what, exactly, is the target of his satire. His biannual magazine, Toiletpaper, which features beautiful, disturbing, engrossing images created with his collaborator, the photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari, could be seen as surreal, satirical or something else entirely.

Speaking with Cattelan is how I imagine it would be like to be toyed with by a mischievous octopus. You think you have an idea of an answer, and then another leg curls round your head from behind and tweaks your ear. The son of a truck driver and a cleaner, with no formal training in art, Cattelan did not shine at school: a million parents around the world would have been forgiven for assuming this son of Padua, northern Italy, was destined not to do anything with his life.

A drawing of a man

Illustration of Maurizio Cattelan
by Jonathan Newhouse, 2023

And yet his blue-collar parents produced one of the most sophisticated, thoughtful and intelligent artists I have met; and also one of the hardest to pigeonhole. He is not, by his own admission, a painter. Is he a sculptor? An installation artist? A surrealist? What kind of art is a banana taped to the wall, or any of the works he has created on these pages (and on our cover) for LUX? Is he really what his art suggests he is, a mix of Marcel Duchamp, Monty Python and Andy Warhol?

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

After some brain-scrambling and highly entertaining and engaging exchanges, I think I have the answer. But why don’t you read our interview below and come to your own conclusions. Like mine, they will probably be wrong, for Cattelan is a playful yet deadly serious chimera who, as his elementary-school teachers probably said, can never quite be pinned down.

Darius Sanai: Your parents were not in the art world. That must have made it difficult for you to enter the art scene. Did you meet any resistance?
Maurizio Cattelan
:
Resistance is not the right word to describe it. The difference between people lies only in their having greater or lesser access to economic possibilities and knowledge, and in being successful in accessing these two elements when the starting conditions do not allow it. All the choices that I have made are aimed at seeking that access. I am a devotee of free will much more than of destiny: in this sense, the Catholic religion has had no influence on me, while the Lutheran heresy is much more in my comfort zone. I am convinced that destiny is nothing but the sum of our choices. Regarding what my parents would have thought of me being an artist, I was lucky enough not to discover it.

DS: What did you want to do when you were at school?
MC: My childhood was not an easy one, but it was not special at all – I share this burden with many people before and after me, who suffered from the same condition. The first memory I have from school was a suspension in first grade. It was an agitated, very proletarian class. I don’t remember why but the teacher wrote in the notebook that I shouldn’t show up the next day. My parents were meant to sign the note from the teacher, but I spent a whole day imitating my parents’ signatures so as not to face their judgment and punishment. They never found out. Also, the report card never arrived at my parents’, because I kept forging their signatures.

A man's head looking worried surrounded by his head in green and yellow around him

Maurizio Cattelan
self-portrait created by the artist and Pierpaolo Ferrari for LUX

DS: You had no formal art training. Does this mean that a great artist needs no training?
MC: Not at all, but it was true for me–art training would have made me give up. The most distressing gift I ever received was a painter’s kit: it had everything I needed to paint, and I had no idea how to use it. It was a year at home that reminded me how inadequate I was as a painter, or at working with my hands in general. It was really frustrating: they were tools that I wanted to try but at the same time I knew I wasn’t able to master them.

DS: You are a satirist, a disruptor. Why?
MC: Please, you tell me, because I feel like the most boring person I know!

DS: Is your art a commentary on society?
MC: Not at all. I’ve always believed that if something can be reduced to one clear concept, it is as sure as hell artistically dead. Art has no direct and unique intent, otherwise it is a problem that has already been resolved, and there’s nothing interesting in this. So, you’ll never hear me affirming a show has one single objective – otherwise, it would be simple advertising. Art is good for you as long as you make whatever you want out of it.

DS: Is one of your aims to create discomfort in those viewing your art? If so, why?
MC: I promise you I have no such nasty aim. I do what I do to deal with my problems, if they create discomfort it is not something planned deliberately. I simply can’t help it.

identical men in blue suits in a row with their arm our to shake a hand

Maurizio Cattelan
self-portrait created by the artist and Pierpaolo Ferrari for LUX

DS: Who are your forebears? Duchamp? Picasso?
MC: The maximum I can say is that I sometimes dream about finding a bear in my closet. I’m not sure if it is its dimensions or its teeth, but it is quite scary. Imagine if I also had fore-bears!

DS: What effect would you like your art to have on the world?
MC: I would not ask this question in these terms: a flower blooms because its time came, not because there is a reason or effect it can forsee. Similarly, it happens with art, design and all forms of innovation: they happen when the time tis right, it is as simple as this.

DS: Does it trouble you that only the wealthy can buy art that is considered “great” now? What is the relationship between art and its price?
MC: Artworks, art institutions and the art market are linked together, as they form an indissoluble chain that allows the machine to work. Experience teaches us that light cannot exist without darkness and that an ecosystem cannot be balanced if a prey doesn’t have its predator: this is also the case in the art world.

DS: Does it not trouble you that many great works, including yours, are locked in private collections? What can be done to change this (except a revolution)?
MC: It would trouble me if the collectors has no interest in showing them, but since it is in their own interest to show them around as it would increase their value, I don’t see a big issue there. Wise collectors assemble collections that are not purely speculative, and they can be the best companion for an artist. They can help a lot in developing and giving birth to what you have in mind: the fact that you can dream about something because a collector is supporting you opens an entire world of possibilities.

A banana taped to the wall

Comedian, 2019, by Maurizio Cattelan

DS: Is revolution a good idea?
MC: It is always a good idea when it’s performed, and not spoken.

DS: Can you describe how you create a work, from inspiration to completion?
MC: My favourite part is the ideation, then I prefer to let others take care of the practicalities, as realisation is a sea I can’t navigate. My contribution is the initial one: the conception of a work is the most interesting part for me, everything is new and exciting. The more you get into the practical phase, the more impatient I become to start with another one: I don’t like the things I already know.

DS: You have said all decoration is disturbing; and yet you have Toiletpaper Home, a homewares line. Should home decoration be disturbing also?
MC: Did I say so? Maybe I was referring to my place; that is totally empty. But I love to think that Toiletpaper images could be applied to home decoration – it has always been a project that knows no limit.

DS: Are you a surrealist? A sensationalist? Absurdist? Or any other kind of “ist”?
MC: I am a 1-ist of contradiction.

A man hanging from a green bathroom

You, 2021, by Maurizio Cattelan
at Massimo de Carlo, Milan, 2022

DS: Is there a morality, a commentary on the human condition or society in your works?
MC: I believe I already answered this, but just to be clear: art should not have a straightforward , unique clear message, otherwise it is advertising.

DS: You have said that if you have been able to amke good art, it’s because of your flaws. What are those?
MC: Le me answer as if I was in a job interview: I’m a perfectionist.

DS: What are your best works of art?
MC: Only time will tell.

DS: Should the banana have been eaten?
MC: Only if next time the peel and tape are also eaten.

The Guggenheim building with items hanging from the ceiling to the floor

Installation view of ALL, 2011, by Maurizio Cattelan
, at Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2011

DS: What role do you think shock value plays in contemporary art?
MC: I wish for every artist’s work to be incendiary, and to never satisfy expectations. In the latter case, it is a style exercise and a waste of time, both for the artist and for the audience.

DS: Your recent collaboration with Gucci explores appropriation and originality. How important is it to be original in the art world today?
MC: Culture has been rewritten many times from many different points of view. If we look at history, copying has been the method of disseminating knowledge as much as in the contemporary world: scribes copied books to ensure future generations had the same knowledge and to preserve their culture over the centuries. A few years earlier, the Romans copied Greek sculptures, as today we copy the great classics and see them in souvenir shops. Copying is a concept as old as humanity, because it is the presupposition of knowledge tout court.

Read more: An Interview with William Kentridge

DS: What about Longchamp, what are you doing there?
MC: It’s a collaboration, a capsule that witnesses the marriage between Longchamp and Toiletpaper. I am looking forward to discovering what the result will be.

DS: Are you a Voltaire of the art world?
MC: You tell me, as I’m not sure of who I am in general, never mind in the art world!

three men standing together

Darius Sanai with Maurizio Cattelan
and Pierpaolo Ferrari

DS: Which artists, living or dead, do you admire most?
MC: All those who did what they did under a sense of urgency.

DS: What or who is overrated in the art world?
MC: All those who did what they did NOT under a sense of urgency.

DS: Will you create digital art?
MC: I’d rather not, I’m far too old for that.

The Longchamp x Toiletpaper Le Pliage collection is at Longchamp stores and lonchamp.com. A limited-edition issue of Toiletpaper features the collaboration.

toiletpapermagazine.org

Photographer: Pierpaolo Ferrari
Art Director: Antonio Colomboni
Set Designer: Michela Natella
Set Builder: Lorenzo Dispensa
Hair and Makeup: Lorenzo Zavatta
Stylist: Elisa Zaccanti

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 10 min
A man and woman standing next to each other in black and white

A man and woman standing next to each other in black and white

Princess Alia Al-Senussi is a key figure in the development of cultural relationships between the West and the Global South, and in the growth of the art scene in Saudi Arabia. In a conversation moderated by LUX’s Leaders and Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh, Alia Al-Senussi speaks with South Asian philanthropist and collector Durjoy Rahman about significant art world debates and developments at the nexus of the developed and developing worlds

LUX: Durjoy, is the relationship between art in the Global South and the rest of the world changing?

Durjoy Rahman: I have been collecting for the over 25 years, and I have always been passionate about creativity, both personally and professionally. Living in Dhaka, I have realised there is a lot of untapped creativity that can probably be moulded and presented to a wider audience, to increase visibility, benefitting Bangladesh, South Asia and, in a bigger picture, the Global South.

These days there is a very fashionable phrase: “Your West is my East”. What one person calls “West” is actually somebody else’s “East”. It depends on the position you are coming from. I have asked many scholars, and no one has been able to give me a clear definition of what the “Global South” is. I think the geopolitical or geographical definition has different meanings and narratives and I expect plenty of discourse and redefinition during the next decade.

LUX: Alia, what has your global vision of the art world been informed by?

Alia Al-Senussi: I came to the art world from a very established position, in the heart of London, so my view has been shaped by the Western perspective, an institutional perspective, a gallery art world ecosystem perspective.

I was very lucky to enter the art world at a time when these perspectives were changing. Tate Modern had just opened and revolutionised the way that we put art in context. There is no longer the “South Asian gallery”, the “Middle Eastern gallery” or the “Asian gallery”.

 A woman wearing a black dress and orange head scarf standing next to a large rock in a desert

Alia Al-Senussi in AlUla, Saudi Arabia. She is a Senior Advisor, Arts, and Culture, to the Ministry of Culture in Riyadh

It was about showing art in conversation with itself, through the eyes of a subject, subject matter, or a generational perspective, rather than a geographical one. And, ever since, as much as I’m in the art world, my perspective on the art world is not as an art historian. It is very much about somebody looking at art, strategy and cultural strategy through the perspective of cultural diplomacy, soft power and how culture interacts with the art world ecosystem, but also very much with identities, governments and politics.

LUX: Alia, how have you noticed the art world changing in the Middle East?

AAS: My work in the Middle East started in 2007, when Art Dubai started. In the last five years, we’ve seen a rapid evolution in the Middle East, positive developments in Saudi Arabia, and Dubai becoming, in many ways, a platform for art from the Global South.

LUX: What do you think is the role of philanthropy in art. Does it engage, facilitate and shape discourse?

DR: This is what DBF is all about. From day one our approach has been very discursive, and we try to position our strategies in a very discursive manner.

For example, we work with photographers like Sunil Gupta, whose retrospective involved queer art. On the other side of the coin, we work with Wadham College of Oxford University, restoring the Holy Qurans, which we announced during the month of Ramadan.

My philosophy towards philanthropic activities and my involvement in the foundation is to challenge negative perceptions. It’s not only about Bangladesh, but the whole perception of South Asia, that I am trying to change through the activities that DBF undertakes. This is why we don’t only focus our activities in Southeast Asia but globally, be it in Europe or America.

A man wearing a white shirt and black vest standing next to a green sofa and a large yellow painting behind him

Durjoy Rahman is a philanthropist and collector based in Dhaka, Bangladesh

LUX: Alia, could you share with us your belief about the role of art and philanthropy?

AAS: I think it is at the very heart of changing perception. I have a deep belief in – as Durjoy said – the power of culture to change people’s minds and perceptions. And I’m not just talking about the West, I mean: it’s even neighbour to neighbour.

For example, we’ve seen black art in the United States transform people’s perceptions of BLM and people’s perceptions of segregationist history. You walk around the Tate galleries, and you see two paintings facing each other in the room about conflict and war. One is about the pogroms in Eastern Europe, and one is about the massacres at Sabra and Shatila [of Palestinian refugees by Christian militias during the Lebanese Civil War in 1982]. These speak to exactly the same universal horrors that many people experience but are from two very different conflicts and parts of the world.

LUX: What responsibility or soft power do you feel you have?

AAS: I feel a deep sense of personal and professional responsibility. In any projects that I get involved in or commit to, I pay a lot of attention to professionalism. I teach a lot and one of the questions I often get asked is, “How do I get involved in the art world? How do I start my career?” I say, “Get involved, show up.”

I think the idea of showing up is really important. Someone invites you to something, go. Someone expects you to be at something, be there. Someone expects you to respond to your emails, respond; and I think that idea of showing up really illustrates a commitment to people.

LUX: What is soft power for you, Durjoy? How can you and/or art bridge discourse?

DR: Everybody wants to understand art. Even Picasso said, “Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the songs of a bird?”

An artwork from the Bhumi project, supported by the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation that was shown at the Kochi Biennale in India in 2022/23

When I invite people to an art show and they say that “Well, we don’t understand art.” I say, “There is nothing to understand. Just be there. Just try to comprehend that it is something interesting.” An example of how it’s not about soft power, but engagement, is what DBF did during the pandemic. All the major art institutions in South Asia closed for either health or commercial reasons. DBF decided to get involved with a community from north Bangladesh, which had hardly been hit by COVID-19. The project was called Bhumi and involved a minority group in the area who were craftspeople working in textiles. The project involved 260 people from 60 families, and it supported their daily livelihood. The project didn’t end with the pandemic, it was actually taken to last year’s Kochi Biennale to exhibit the works of the craftsmen and shows what is possible during difficult times.

This is an example of how art, philanthropy and art activism can show how culture can play an important role in times of crisis.

AAS: Just like Durjoy said, you see these very different and very nimble organisations involving themselves with communities and making a difference. The Islamic Biennale did exactly that. It was really revolutionary in the context of art in Saudi Arabia. The Islamic Arts Biennale was at the Hajj terminal in Jeddah, and offered locals to come to a place that they’d never entered because the Hajj terminal inherently is a place for Non-Saudis to come into Jeddah to then go on Hajj.

The locals could see this exceptional building, feel the power of Islam, but also of spirituality and of a community coming together. For people who were not Muslim, or had no connection to the Hajj, they saw objects and works of art in a contemporary and historical environment.

jewelled colourful prayer mats hanging on a wall

The Islamic Arts Biennale in Jeddah, 2023

Certain organisations have the power to be really nimble. They can profess their politics and support artists for art and culture. I think Delfina Foundation, for example, has been very clear about their support for artists from across a plethora of humanity and does it in a sophisticated, nuanced, and empathetic manner.

LUX: Where are you seeing Next Gen concerns amplified through art?

AAS: I think you see the next generation wanting to amplify diverse voices. There is this desire that art is geographically, ethnically, and sexually diverse so people can express the totality of who they are. There is a sense of activism to it, but there’s also a sense of declaration. I don’t always read into these institutional shows or works of art as activism. Sometimes an artist just wants to say, “This is who I am, and this is the art I make.” Artists are going to make art based on their life experiences.

LUX: Durjoy, where do you think the line is between declaration and activism?

DR: I think the majority of people want to see the origin of the artist, their background and their surroundings, reflected in the work they are producing. If I show a Bangladeshi artist and his or her work looks too different or has no context, sometimes curators even question it and say it doesn’t show their struggle or their originality. I’m not an art scholar or academic: I look at art based on whether I like it. But I think it’s important for an artist or a creative practitioner to show the origin, the struggle, and the history.

I think that we want to encourage artists going forwards to show their origin and their perception. An artist should be free to express their opinion, whether they are from Iraq, Lebanon or Africa. If they are willing to they should go ahead. DBF and I always try to work with artists who have enormous creative boundaries that they want to exhibit in front of their audience.

A man and woman sitting by a table with a laptop speaking into microphones

Al-Senussi in conversation with installation and media artist Chris Cheung during Art Basel in Hong Kong

LUX: To what extent do Next Gens feel obligated to witness and pivot or create change?

AAS: What I see more in my lecturing and my academic experiences, is that the next gen is very much about wanting to change the world and wanting to illustrate that. Through their careers and artwork, they want to be a part of the change in some way. It’s a little disheartening because there is this negative feeling about the future of the world, but at the same time there is a feeling that maybe we, collectively, can change the world.

You also see artists that are just reflecting on their own childhoods, like Farah Al Qasimi. She talks about her family home and the changes shifting in the UAE. It’s an activism, but then it’s also a reflection on the changing world.

LUX: Can art collaboration bring about changes of perception?

DR: Definitely. Art has a vital influence on culture towards current situations. I think art has a very influential way to foster international connections and collaborations and can question issues that are happening.

Read more: Maria Sukkar and Durjoy Rahman on supporting artists from your hometown

When I was in Paris at Asia Now art fair, I was talking to an artist from Israel and an artist from Jordan. When these two artists sat together, they realised where the problem lies. I didn’t see a division in their opinion, and I think this is an example of art bridging divides. Art can be used as a very strong tool to solve many of our problems including sustainability and global climate change.

AAS: I think art, at this time, is one of the only tools that we can look to, to unite us or to heal us. Unfortunately, it can also be used and utilised in other ways, but I have faith and hope that we will see a change.

Find out more:

durjoybangladesh.org

aliaalsenussi.com

Share:
Reading time: 10 min
coloured polaroids with pictures of artworks stacked in lines
coloured polaroids with pictures of artworks stacked in lines

Polaroids of artworks at home by Hafsa Alkhudairi

Contemporary art lead for AlUla, Hafsa Alkhudairi, delves into the lives of the pieces in her family’s collections. Writing from the artworks’ perspectives,  she gives a voice to the paintings and sculptures in her family home

“When the world is an ugly and cruel place, remember there are spaces of beauty, and I wanted that beauty to live in my house.” Reem Abbas and I (her daughter) were sitting in our family’s living room when she uttered those words. We chose all the artworks in the space, the two women who are currently still residing in the home. However, Iraqi pioneer artists are the majority of the Abbas-Alkhudairi collection, chosen by Abbas and showcasing her attachment to her heritage and history. “I have lived longer in Saudi than I have lived in Iraq. I feel Saudi, but I am always missing a part of me that I left behind in Iraq.”

I grew up with stories of Baghdad, surrounded by artworks that would tell me about their version of Iraq. I would see how my mother’s stories wove themselves into little histories encapsulated in the artworks she chose to acquire and display in our home and specifically our living room. She brought the piece of herself that she left behind back with her in fragments and memories only she can describe. Their existence in Saudi also recontextualised them and told a new story shared by the generations that have passed through the house and interacted directly or indirectly with the art.

This piece isn’t about me or my mother; it is about the artworks we live with and what they want to say about themselves.

Saadi Al-kaabi, 1997
Acquired by Reem Abbas after Saadi Alkaabi’s exhibition in 1998

I am a number of abstract figures shadowing each other like ghosts of past beings, humans, affected by life’s harsh experiences. My colours are bleak browns and clear whites. I am a moment of sadness and immortalisation of grief. Saadi Al-kaabi produced me as a reaction to the Desert Storm and the darkness of war that tore families and people apart. The hardship of war on humanity is within my nature.

Yet, I am living in a space of beauty and family. I have seen the children turn into adults and have their own children. I exist in a space of family, and I am adorned with images of the family experiencing their lives beyond the horrors of my existence.

I am in awe of who I am; the Gulf War shaped me with bitterness, pain, anger, and grief. When I was first created, I felt no need to pander to more positive emotions. And why should I? I am a product of horrors that have unfolded and evolved into a persona that is unforgiving.

A drawing of bodies in beige and white

Untitled (1997), Saadi Alkaabi. Photographs by Mahmoud Essam, Courtesy of Reem Abbas

I should be arrogantly demanding they remove their photos from me and respect my history and my story, but I feel myself soften towards them, towards their existence. I want to see their happiness and to see them grow and unfold as each year passes. I have seen secrets and moments of celebrations and spent countless hours staring at the family as they stared at the television in front of them.

I also love the curious glances I get, the awe I produce in people, and especially the reflective looks I exchange with those who know me or my creator. The people who live in this house don’t always realise I exist, or they spend hours in my company reflecting on my story.

Maybe I should have been in a museum but I am so grateful to have existed in this space of intimacy and love that gives me the opportunity to separate myself from my own harrowing pain and complicated story. I have become forgiving and loving. A shape that looks over and protects those who pass in front of me and live with them. My figures are no longer ghosts of the past but guardians of the future.

Earthly Wonders Celestial Beings 961, 2019 & 902, 2021
Rand Abdul Jabbar
Acquired through Hafsa Alkhudairi directly from the artist in 2023.

Two pieces of glazed stoneware resting on a table is how people would describe us. Some people are unsure what we are meant to be, but they see the value in our existence and the beauty in our formation. The history we recreate is a moment of reflection, loss, and hope. We rebuild lost stories and recreate them through the inherited knowledge seeping into our very being.

A white petal with a bronze stick in the middle of it

Earthly Wonders Celestial Beings (EWCB) 961 (2019), Rand Abduljabbar. Photographs by Ismail Noor. Courtesy of the artist

Moving into the space we now exist in was a return: a way to connect with the stories that created us. The experience or feeling that produced us reverberated in the walls, hands, and artworks with which we share the space. It is an ongoing conversation between us and the artworks around us. Our fellow art that have migrated to this place and have become our closest companions and confidants. Or we hope that they will… We are young compared to some of the work here. We are learning who we are and where we belong. We are learning how to be within our own ceramics.

Yet, here, we are connected to our ancestral past and connected to the people who live here. They look at us as if they are trying to decipher what we represent and think deeply about our existence in their spheres. We remind them of a form of their home lost in Iraq and not as easily accessible other than through memories or books. So, they are producing stories about us that blend into their story of existence. We are now part of the fabric of their reality. We constantly wonder what they think: are we usable objects or recognise us as art? This also brings up the question of how we want to be interacted with: do we want them to touch us and use us or just look at us?

a red and green stones

EWCB 902 (2021) Rand Abduljabbar. Photographs by Ismail Noor. Courtesy of the artist

We are new in this space, so we feel young and naive with so much growth to achieve and exact in this space. We will grow into the environment with the people who exist here. We will grow into the atmosphere with the artworks that surround us. Soon, we’ll break barriers and become more relaxed around each other and those around us. Soon, we’ll start teasing each other and enjoying our existence without pretences or intimidation.

Suad AlAttar, 1978
Gifted to Reem Abbas by her mother, Asmaa Algailani, who acquired it directly from the artist, Year Unknown.

I moved around between multiple homes in Baghdad, Iraq and then to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. I feel my story and meaning have changed with every exchange of places. I am the manifestation of memory. I am a reminder for the woman, the matriarch, who sat with me most, of her life in Baghdad and the stories we have witnessed or experienced together. Yet, I am no longer the artwork that existed in that city, I am now recontextualised, placed into a position of nostalgia instead of reality.

In front of me is Saadi Alkaabi, and we look like we are a pair, but we truly aren’t. But we keep having conversations because we see the chaos and childhoods around us differently. I am older, so instead of just feeling softness towards the family. I feel like I am part of their family: I have seen all the children grow from babies to strong adults with their own babies. I remember them running around screaming and laughing and now I see the next generation doing the same. They pass by me whenever they want, pretending to be in a jungle instead of a living room.

A drawing a tree with a dark hole in the trunk

Untitled (1978), Suad AlAttar, photographs by Mahmoud Essam. Courtesy of Reem Abbas

However, my relationship with them isn’t as strong as it is with the matriarch. We look at each other and understand. She sees in me the fogginess of the mind and I see in her the struggle to be at peace. We are both survivors. We have fought hard to be where we are, but that doesn’t mean we don’t understand the nuances of our existence. We may not have had to struggle continuously like some of our peers who stayed behind in Baghdad but there is a pain in the diaspora and there is peace. Peace isn’t just the lack of war but it is a state of mind once acceptance fully sets in. We have accepted our new circumstances.

I represent a mind produced through leaves and tree trunks, complicated and nuanced but simple in existence. I am a reminder of a land and a time that will never be. Stories told in love and pain. I am humble enough to realise I am only part of the story, and it will continue past me into the next generation. Yet I am immortalised in my frame, holding vigil, protecting the memories I hold and will hold as the women of this family continuously confide in me. We had to leave Baghdad but Baghdad never left us. Yet we live and continue to thrive despite the hardship of leaving behind our histories.

Share:
Reading time: 8 min
A man wearing a green, yellow and purple colourful top putting on red sunglasses
A man wearing a green, yellow and purple colourful top putting on red sunglasses

Edoardo Monti

In the seventh part of our Italy art focus series, curated by Umberta Beretta, LUX speaks to Edoardo Monti, who at 26 established an artist residency at his family’s 13th-century Brescia palazzo. Since 2017, it has already hosted more than 200 artists from 50 countries

LUX: Palazzo Monti is very significant architecturally. Does it influence your artists?
Edoardo Monti: The palazzo has a powerful effect. It is calming, it has stunning light and there is lots of space, so you can focus on your art in private during the day, but there is always someone in the communal spaces to chat with. The city, too, leaves an imprint. Bergamo and Brescia are Italian Capital of Culture 2023, and there are many cultural activities and museums that help with research and production. Lastly, there are the artists: they create a beautiful bond that carries on after they leave Italy.

A table and chairs in a room with art leaning on the walls

Pescatarians in the Hands of an Angry God, 2017, by Chloe Wise; Edo a Tavola, 2019, by Maria Fragola, and Late Breakfast, 2019, by Kyle Vu-Dunn, at Palazzo Monti

LUX: How do you choose the artists?
EM: We receive more than 700 monthly requests. We don’t care whether artists studied or are self taught, where they live or their age. We just look for art we have never seen before.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What is your favourite Palazzo artwork?
EM: I can’t get enough of Interior III by Christina Kimeze. It shows the artist and my dog, Beatrice.

A painting of a green monster on top of a wooden table

View of Nobody Like You/ Nobody’s Going to F*ck Me Like Me, 2019, by Sophie Spedding at Palazzo Monti

LUX: You worked for 10 years at Stella McCartney. Why did you change direction?
EM: I left Italy at 18, so it felt natural to move back when I was 26 and live as an adult in the country I love. Then there was the palazzo, where I had never lived, but which I thought had so much potential, and wanted to help express. Lastly, I had started collecting art at 14 – mainly figurative art, which is still a main focus – and I wanted to dedicate myself to my passion, working with artists from around the world.

LUX: What were the challenges?
EM: I missed NYC for a while, but Italy is pretty awesome, too. The challenge was to become known in the art world, which we did through social media and our alumni, as each becomes an ambassador back in their own city.

A white marble staircase in a hallway with painted walls and large wooden doors

A view of the Palazzo Monti with hints of its art residencies

LUX: Do you choose the artists to fit together?
EM: We don’t strategise. We host three artists at a time, and have been lucky to have groups that bonded. We have a large communal kitchen and dining area, where we often enjoy dinners together. We can’t guarantee positive experiences, nor wish to impose a social life. We respect that some artists come to enjoy living in a centuries-old palazzo and to work in our large studios.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Arturo Galansino

LUX: What are your aspirations now for Palazzo Monti?
EM: We want to work more with curators so our artists have even more support. We are also opening our exhibition spaces to other projects, as we become more of a cultural centre with a residency, exhibitions and a private museum.

Find out more: palazzomonti.org

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
A building exterior with a picture on it showing the inside of the building in grey as if the wall has been bashed through
A building exterior with a picture on it showing the inside of the building in grey as if the wall has been bashed through

La Ferita (The Wound), 2021, by JR at Palazzo Strozzi

In the sixth part of our Italy art focus series, curated by Umberta Beretta, LUX speaks to Arturo Galansino, director of the public-private Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, which opened an art space in Florence in 2006, and maintains a bold programme of exhibitions from Old Masters to contemporary art, creating a dynamic dialogue

LUX: Did you ever think you would make such an impact in Florence?
Arturo Galansino: It is beyond our expectations. I have been here for eight years and Palazzo Strozzi is the most successful exhibition space in Italy with the shift in 2016 to introduce contemporary art, bring important artists to create work here and create a public to see it. We are happy to have helped change the identity of this city, which is no longer a city of the past, but a protagonist of the present.

Two men standing in front of a painting of the Mona Lisa in blue

Arturo Galansino with artist Yan Pei-Ming

LUX: Would Florence locals Michelangelo and Leonardo approve of Koons and Abramović?
AG: I hope they would be happy to see Florence generating a contemporary art discussion from their legacy. And I believe Bernini would love what Jeff Koons is doing.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: How was it working with Jeff Koons?
AG: He comes to all the exhibitions, especially the Old Masters – we spent a lot of time at our Donatello, which was the exhibition of 2022 worldwide. Jeff loves so much what he sees, he wants to understand how it works. He told me he’s using a new idea inspired by how Donatello used bronze so economically – leaving the hidden parts without bronze. These discoveries are so exciting for artists who work with matter, and for me it was an unbelievable experience.

A room with wooden floors and benches and a metal snake hanging on the wall

The Snake Bag, 2008, by
Ai Weiwei at “Ai Weiwei Libero” at Palazzo Strozzi, 2017

LUX: Are you bringing a new crowd to Florence?
AG: In Florence, we have mass tourism. Tourists race to the Uffizi and maybe the Accademia, visit Botticelli and David and don’t even sleep here. We have fewer visitors than the Uffizi, but they come for longer and often return. They explore Florence – a special perfume shop, a little church they don’t know. So we create a tourism that doesn’t occupy only two spots. It also helps to make a more sustainable economy.

A man wearing a suit and blue tie standing in front of a bust of a horse

Arturo Galansino

LUX: Can you speak about “Let’s Get Digital!”.
AG: We saw the digital phenomenon in 2020, and wanted to be the first institution to make a significant show with it. We had such a success. Every day we had thousands of people mesmerised by images from the six most successful digital artists of this moment. And we could explain this new art, too.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Beatrice Trussardi

When we opened, in 2022, there was the collapse of cryptocurrency, which was so associated with NFTs, so it was a critical moment and were part of it.

A red painting of a man boxing

Bruce Lee, 2007, by Yan Pei-Ming, from “Painting Histories” at Palazzo Strozzi, 2023

LUX: Finally, do Italians still think this is a country of history, not contemporary art?
AG: Artistic history is part of our identity and I am very proud of it. What we should do is try to reinterpret its value towards new directions. We have to conserve, but also be progressive and open. I think if we find a balance, Italy could be the country of the future, because we have everything the world is looking for.

Find out more: palazzostrozzi.org

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
A blonde woman wearing a white shirt and white trousers standing next to a table with a blue vase and a red ornament
A blonde woman wearing a white shirt and white trousers standing next to a table with a blue vase and a red ornament

Beatrice Trussardi, President of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi and founder of the Fondazione Beatrice Trussardi

In the fifth part of our Italy art focus series, curated by Umberta Beretta, LUX speaks to Beatrice Trussardi who as President of the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi and more recently founder of the Fondazione Beatrice Trussardi, produces public encounters with art in unexpected places

LUX: Was art always a passion?
Beatrice Trussardi: My family had creative friends such as artists and directors, so I grew up in that environment. But it was when I went to New York for university, then worked in the Met, the Guggenheim and MoMA, that I found my path. I went back to Milan to the fashion business, and started my new mission at the family foundation in 1999.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: After New York, did Italy seem a little stuck in the past to you?
BT: In Italy we have so much artistic heritage, but there were only a few contemporary foundations in Milan: my family’s, Prada’s, a few others. After returning from New York, I wanted to bring contemporary art to the public. In 2003, Massimiliano Gioni and I had the idea of making the foundation nomadic, to connect historical buildings and open spaces with contemporary art, bringing art to Milan and making it available to everybody. We took that idea international with my own foundation in 2021.

A theatre with a projection of a face of a boy on the stage curtain

Ludwig, 2018, by Diego Marcon, from “Dramoletti” at Teatro Gerolamo, a puppet theatre in Milan, 2023

LUX: And you wanted to support artists as well as the public?
BT: We always say we make the hidden dreams of artists possible by producing and exhibiting site-specific art projects and exploring powerful subjects, such as migration and human rights. We have worked with many artists including Jeremy Deller, Ibrahim Mahama and Paola Pivi.

Two cars crashed into a mosaic ground with people standing around it

From “Short Cut”, by Elmgreen & Ingar Dragset, Ottagono at Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Milan, 2003

LUX: And it becomes ephemeral?
BT: That is what interests us. We don’t collect the pieces, the artists are free to take them anywhere, to lend the pieces or to sell them. Everything stays in the memory.

A woman wearing a red outfit standing next to an artwork of a woman

Beatrice Trussardi with work by Dorothy Iannone, Suck My Breasts, I Am Your Beautiful Mother, 1970/71

LUX: Does this make a unique experience?
BT: From the first exhibition 20 years ago, we wanted people to say, “What is that?” about the art and the location, because when we choose a location, it’s been abandoned or used for other purposes, so when someone finds an artwork there it is unexpected. It promotes discussion, an educational aspect that is part of our mission.

A man working on a grand piano in an old fashioned room

Stop, Repair, Prepare: Variations on Ode to Joy for a Prepared Piano, No 1, 2008, by Jennifer Allora from “Fault Lines” by Allora & Calzadilla at the Palazzo Cusani, Milan, 2013

LUX: What are your favourite moments?
BT: It is always exciting because it is agile and about catching a particular historical moment. Every time it is different, special, extraordinary.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Giovanna Forlanelli Rovati

Between lockdowns in 2020, we did a very interesting project, The Sky in a Room, with Ragnar Kjartansson in the Chiesa Lazzaretto, a 16th-century church in Milan, which was built without walls to allow the sick to attend during the plague. The church is in the middle of a field, and only 15 people could be inside at a time, to watch and listen. That was an historical moment, and very, very touching.

Find out more: acaciaweb.it

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
Woman standing in front of artwork

Gemma De Angelis Testa

A desire to connect artists and art lovers led Gemma De Angelis Testa to establish ACACIA in Milan in 2003 and to instigate the ACACIA award. Here, she speaks to LUX about her extensive collection and the artists close to her heart

LUX: Did your love of art draw you to your husband, the late Armando Testa?
Gemma De Angelis Testa: Armando was one of a kind, with an extraordinary sense of humour and imagination, a creative approach that he applied to work and life.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Two pieces of art hanging on a wall

From left: House of Pictures, 2001, by Peter Doig and What to Do, 2008, Richard Prince, in Gemma De Angelis Testa’s guest room

LUX: You made a huge art donation from your collection to Ca’ Pesaro, Venice. Why was that?
GDAT: It is the realisation of a dream. Before becoming a collector, I dreamt of creating a collection to donate to a museum. It felt right to let people enjoy artworks that have given me such joy. It also ensures a future for the collection. And in Venice, during the Biennale, I met my husband and fell in love with contemporary art.

LUX: Tell us about some of the donated works.
GDAT: Vengeance of Achilles by Cy Twombly and Untitled by Gino De Dominicis are especially dear to my heart. The Twombly was the first piece of my collection; the De Dominicis one of the few purchased with my husband

Black scultpure of a soldier's head

Head (Miner), 2016 by William Kentrige, and Microcosmo (2001-02) by Francesco Gennari, in Testa’s entrance hall

LUX: Tell us about the art in your home? It feels like one is immersed in art there.
GDAT: With many artworks going to Venice, I created new art stories for the house. You are greeted by William Kentridge’s steel Head (Miner). The drawing room is otherworldly, with highlights by Ed Ruscha and Anselm Kiefer. The dining room includes Homage to Mondrian by Armando Testa and Homage to Armando Testa by Haim Steinbach. Relationships made in the guest room include Elizabeth Peyton and Peter Doig, and in the studio Lucio Fontana and Ettore Spalletti. The bedroom includes portraits by Marlene Dumas, and Aquile meccaniche by Testa. Artworks by Rebecca Horn, Pat Steir and Joseph Kosuth in the hallway lead to the kitchen, where you find humorous food works by Testa.

Artworks in a living room

From left: Small Many, 2000-2001, by Pat Steir; Drawing from Faustus in Africa, 1995, by William Kentridge; and 5/7/63, 7.30am, 2016, by Robert Pruitt, in Testa’s drawing room

LUX: Are collectors’ donations more important, as funding diminishes?
GDAT: They are essential, especially in Italy, where the lack of public funding is an issue. It is a way of giving back. Private and public institutions should engage to develop ideas around the lack of venues for private collections.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

LUX: How important is it for art to be available to the public?
GDAT: It is a priority, as art would not exist without sharing. Art is part of our culture, opening our minds and hearts. It is the right of everyone to have access it.

LUX: Is there a philosophy to your collecting?
GDAT: Only the desire to explore new paths and new worlds.

Find out more: acaciaweb.it

Share:
Reading time: 2 min
Woman with white hair and glasses crossing her arms and smiling

Giovanna Forlanelli Rovati in the Sala Ontani. Photo by Giovanni de Sandre via Fondazione Luigi Rovati

LUX speaks to Giovanna Forlanelli Rovati At the Fondazione Luigi Rovati in Milan, where she is putting experimental dialogues between ancient and contemporary art, and artistic and scientific enquiry at the heart of an original project

LUX: You trained in medicine and science and worked in pharmaceuticals. Does that give you a different way of perceiving art?
Giovanna Forlanelli Rovati: Culture and art are unpredictable, and so are research and scientific discovery – both form the basis of Humanism. Openness and curiosity have always marked my experiences and my scientific training leads me to experiment with new artistic languages. The idea of connecting art and science led to establishing the Fondazione Luigi Rovati.

Purple room filled with art

Old meets new in the fondazione’s Sala Ontani

LUX: Have you always been fascinated by Etruscan art and craft?
GFR: I became interested in contemporary art in the 1990s in New York, while my husband Lucio is passionate about classical art, in particular Etruscan. Through our passions, we realised that there is an extraordinary dialogue between the ancient and contemporary. The project we share is focused on this.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Are there links between modern and contemporary art and ancient art?
GFR: Certainly, yes, there is a link between them. The aim of the fondazione is to represent and explain these links, but it is also the opposite: reading archaeology in the contemporary world opens it up to new visions.

Grand hall with white walls

The hall of the palazzo housing the fondazione

LUX: Your foundation combines a top-floor Michelin-starred restaurant, ground-floor bistro and garden, viewing rooms and a contemporary architectural creation underground. Why is that?
GFR: Establishing the fondazione was a constantly evolving process. “Wonder” is the word most used by our visitors, the same word used to define the great Renaissance artworks. Visiting a museum means experiencing moments of pleasure and wellbeing in the very beauty of the museum. First, the immersion in the art, but also being in the garden, shop, bistro or restaurant.

Dark room with artwork

“Living in an Etruscan City” on the hypogeum floor

LUX: Do ordinary people have little chance to view great art, now so much of it is owned by private collectors?
GFR: Yes, there are many collectors don’t show their works, but many others open private museums. In our case, the fondazione acquired Italian art collections from abroad and from private Italian collections specifically to display them in our museum. Our vision is to implement a project of inclusion and social utility.

Stone stature in the middle of the room

An installation view in the Sala Paolini

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

LUX: What are your ambitions for the fondazione?
GFR: To become a global point of reference and to export our model worldwide, discovering or rediscovering artists and languages, and developing relationships with private and public institutions in Italy.

Find out more: fondazioneluigirovati.org

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 2 min
thread hanging on a wall coming of a textile
thread hanging on a wall coming of a textile

Works by Aiko Tezuka on display at Asia Now Paris in the Majhi International Art Residency booth

The Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation (DBF) continues its mission to bridge the art communities from the East and the West through the Majhi International Art Residency, this year taking place in Paris

The Majhi International Art Residency was started by DBF in 2019, with its first edition in Venice. Since then, the residency has taken place every year in different locations in Europe including Berlin, Eindhoven, Amsterdam at the renowned Rijksakademie, and now Paris.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

This year’s two-week residency programme saw three artists from Asia and the Asian diaspora creating new works for an exhibition curated by Ricko Leung. Ricko Leung was born and raised in Hong Kong but has lived in Paris since 2014. Her art and curation focus on topics including, fear and control, cultural identity, and post-colonialism, as well as eco-feminism.

4 women standing together outside a building in Paris

The artists and curator involved at the residency, left to right: Aiko Tezuka, Ricko Leung, Raisa Kabir and Rajyashri Goody

The theme of this exhibition was textile and indigo, in particular, around the history and meaning of indigo, being a material very closely tied to the colonial history of Bengal. Indigo is a material also used very frequently in the textile industry, which coincided with the focus of the venue partner, Asia Now Paris. The artists selected for the residency were Raisa Kabir, Aiko Tezuka and Rajyashri Goody.

Raisa Kabir is an artist, textiles researcher and weaver based in London. Kabir’s creations cover the interwoven cultural politics of cloth, archives of the body and colonial geographies, by using woven text and textiles, sound, video and performance.

A room with a red tapestry hanging on the all and pictures hanging on strings beside

Works on display at Asia Now by Rajyashri Goody (right) and Raisa Kabir (left)

Kabir’s (un)weaving performances use queer entanglement to comment on structures of trans-national power, global production, and the relationships between craft and industrial labour. Her work speaks to cultural anxieties surrounding nationhood, textile identities and the cultivation of borders.

Aiko Tezuka was born in Tokyo but has lived in Berlin since 2011. Using different readymade fabrics Aiko produces unique works in which she unravels materials to create new structural forms using her own techniques.

A woven tapestry in pink, blue, yellow and green of a bird flying

Details of an artwork by Aiko Tezuka

Rajyashri Goody is from Pune, India and currently works between India and the Netherlands. She was also a residency at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam from 2021-2023. Goody’s practice has been heavily influenced by both her academic background and her Ambedkarite Dalit roots.

Read more: Mera Rubell on catalysing cultural change

She focuses on messaging around how basic needs of everyday life, including food, nature, language and literacy are actively used as tools to enforce caste rules for generations. She shows this messaging through various mediums incorporating text, voice, paper, pulp, ceramics, photography, printmaking, video and installation into her works.

A poem next to a paper coloured in blue

Indigo not only has strong ties with the colonial history of Bengal, but its pigment is extremely prominent in textiles, which was a point of focus at Asia Now

‘Majhi’ can be translated into English as a ‘leader’ of a house or group of people. In some ways, the Majhi International Art Residency programme acts as a leader by bridging divides, connecting individuals and creating a vibrant channel for the exchange of ideas and experiences.

Find out more: majhi.org

Share:
Reading time: 2 min
A painting of a woman reclining on a sofa, with lots of scribbles
A man and woman wearing black standing in front of a colourful painting

Mera and Don Rubell in front of When You See Me Again It Won’t Be Me (from the “Broadwaybrätsch/ Corporate Abstraction” series), 2010, by Kerstin Brätsch

Mera Rubell and her husband Don were the driving force behind the revitalisation of the Miami art scene. Now the collectors aim to do the same for an underserved area of Washington DC, opening a new museum in the US capital. Mera Rubell speaks to Candice Tucker about catalysing cultural change

LUX: Can art promote cultural change?
Mera Rubell: I think art is at the heart of all communication. Art can bring us together emotionally, which is what we’re possibly lacking in this digital age. We’re probably in greater need of emotional contact with each other than ever. Art has the capacity, through the way in which artists communicate, to bring us together, physically. You’re standing in front of a painting and it is there. It is not flashing, it is not about noise, it is about deep reflection into yourself and into the meaning of the work.

A man and woman with black afros about to kiss

A Natural Explosion! Afro Sheen® Blowout Creme Relaxer (from the “Unbranded” series B), 1973/2007, by Hank Willis Thomas

LUX: What most encouraged you and your husband to become involved in the art world?
MR: First, my husband and I have been married for nearly 60 years. There was no mission, art just became part of our life. My husband was a medical student and I was a teacher. We lived in Chelsea, New York, and artists were painting in empty storefronts and living illegally behind their artworks. We fell into that community. We were earning $100 a week and began to support the artists with a payment plan to buy their artworks. We wouldn’t have called ourselves collectors; we thought ourselves, in a very small way, patrons. So we engaged with artists, spent time in their studios and saw how invested they were. It became an obsession. We felt lucky to have found this amazing way to live our lives.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Why did you choose Washington DC to set up your second museum?
MR: We loved the museums in DC and had bought a run-down 1960s hotel there. It was in a depressed neighbourhood that had been cut off from the rest of the city by a highway, but we fell in love with this building by, as it turned out, Morris Lapidus. Across the street was an abandoned school that had served African American children. It had been shut down years earlier and artists had moved in. We bought the school. When we got involved with the community, we found the school meant a lot to them as it represented a point of their history that was not torn down – Marvin Gaye was an alumnus. When they learnt we had a museum in Miami they encouraged us to do a neighbourhood museum in the school. We said, “Some of the greatest museums are in Washington, who are we to do this?” They said, “Those are national museums. We want to honour the legacy of this building.” It took 16 years to renovate it. Now we have a programme where any alumnus can return, pick a room with their favourite art in it and tell their stories.

Colourful rainbow artworks in a gallery with light coming through the windows reflected on the ground

Installation view of work by Vaughn Spann at the inaugural group exhibition “What’s Going On”, 2022, Rubell Museum DC

LUX: Do you work differently in each city?
MR: We’re not simply going to take work from Miami to DC. We’re going to find ways to connect with Washington’s history and connect art being made right now to the historical richness of its museums. We were surprised by the welcome all these museums gave us. They appreciate us bringing young kids to DC.

LUX: What factors make an art destination?
MR: Last week in DC, we had a call from the President of Ghana’s office saying they would like to visit. That’s Washington, you never know who will call. Politicians who normally don’t have time to engage with art are starting to. Let’s hope they find more time. You have an educated global crowd and every non-profit there – all people who affect the world. So you hope a contemporary museum with the voices of creative people has an impact. I trust it will. Miami is different. We have tourists from all over the world. It is an exploding metropolis that became a cultural destination. That is the miracle of Miami – and it happened with art. We’re proud to have participated. In DC, we are plugging a museum into an historic building that means a lot to the community. They have seen the demolition of so much of their history and are proud to keep whatever they can of their legacy. We are now part of that.

A tryptic African style painting of figures

L’Incroyable Traversée d’Abdoulaye Le Grand, Troisième de la Lignée, 2022, by Alexandre Diop

LUX: Is it the artist, collectors or people in the community that shape an art community?
MR: All of the above. Hillary Clinton said it: it takes a village. It starts with having talent and giving it freedom and support. You have a lot of young people committed to that and to providing a living for artists. We talk about artists, but there are also writers, curators and teachers. You also need commitments across international borders to support artists. Even art fairs – don’t underestimate their power – and auction houses, they are all part of the mix.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf’s predicted art trends for 2024

LUX: If there was one thing you could change about the art world, what would it be?
MR: I wish there were more affordable spaces for artists to work and live. The abandoned neighbourhoods were perfect places for artists to reinvent. Now populations are growing and it is hard to find neighbourhoods no one has discovered. That was what artists did. Those neighbourhoods have now been demolished or are occupied by people who are desperate, as seen with all this terrible homelessness.

A painting of a woman reclining on a sofa, with lots of scribbles

Honi soit qui mal y pense, 2022, by Alexandre Diop

LUX: What new artists interest you today?
MR: So many! Our artist in residence last year was Alexandre Diop and, oh, what a talent. We pick one artist a year to live and work with us and it is amazing what they do. Alexandre is French – born in Paris to a Senegalese father and a French mother. He’s a dancer, a poet, a musician, and the work he makes is out of control.

Find out more: rubellmuseum.org

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 5 min
colourful orange, pink and green feathers
A woman's reflection by a feather sculptureKate MccGwire is a British artist whose childhood on the Norfolk Broads inspired her to create art around landscapes and wildlife. Often collaborating with fashion brands, MccGwire recently produced a limited edition scarf line with Co-Lab369. Here, Candice Tucker speaks with the artist about linking her nature focused art with the fashion world

LUX: How did you initially get involved with Co-Lab369 and what do you admire about them as a brand?
Kate MccGwire: I met Michelle Lindup, the cofounder of Co-Lab369, about 10-15 years ago in Paris. She was a collector and she bought some of my work at an exhibition. We have stayed in touch and every time I go to Paris, we have lunch together and this discussion about scarves happened during one of those lunches, and it evolved over a period of time.

A brown and dark purple feather print scarf

LUX: You’ve worked on many collaborative projects, from ESKMO, to Iris van Herpen to Helmut Lang. What do you enjoy about collaborative work, and how have you found your latest collaboration with Co-Lab369?
KM: It’s really interesting. It’s a very fine balance, trying to get that ethos straight and we’ve managed to do that. We have worked together for a quite a long time now putting it all together. It’s been a labour of love because Michelle has a really strong background in printed textiles and doing all the sampling, so that was her area of expertise, and my work translates really well into cloth and fabric. The quality of the silk is such a high standard that the lustra of the feathers really come out so it has been really exciting to see it come to life.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

I did a project with Ann Demeulemeester, and my work was on their catwalk show in Paris in 2015 and one of my proudest moments was to see all of these garments which I had worked on, walking down the catwalk in the Palais de Tokyo; it was just such a pinch yourself moment.

Two grey sculptures hung on a wall

LUX: Do you ever find it challenging making sure your vision aligns with the fashion house?
KM: It is always a discussion. There are things I am not prepared to do, I don’t want to change the colours of the feathers, for example. They are all the original colours of the feathers that I work with, and nothing is dyed. I wouldn’t die any feather on my work as I wouldn’t want the colours not to be original to the bird which I think is important.

Black and grey feather print scarf

LUX: You work in many mediums – from sculpture to film to drawing. How have you found incorporating fashion into your work?
KM: I love fashion. I am not a fashionista at all, but I really admire it. The thing I don’t like about fashion is it’s so seasonal. I like to buy something that lasts and is an iconic piece, like the dress I’m wearing now, an Issey Miyake dress. I know that it will be good for years, and I think that about the scarf. It’s not a seasonal thing, it’s not the seasons colour, it’s nature’s colour, it’s not going to go out of fashion, it is a limited edition beautiful aesthetic piece that will last for years.

A large feather print rug under a coffee table in a drawing room

There are a very small numbers of scarves. For some of them there are only 50 and for others, 200. It’s early days and at the moment, it’s a very small unique range. Someone who wants to buy one from me has already said “I want to frame it”. My work is very labour intensive and therefore quite expensive so it’s a way for people who love my work, to having something, enjoy the work, but not having to spend so much.

colourful orange, pink and green feathers

LUX: How do you feel about people wearing your art, and would you say that performance, or wearable, art is of particular importance now?
KM: I’m rather subversive in the fact that I love the idea of people wearing something they regard as ‘rats with wings’, pigeons, around their neck. It tickles my humour that that is a possibility, that you can transform someone’s opinion of something being disgusting to something beautiful.

white and grey flower petals zoomed in

LUX: The feather is something that features beautifully across your works. Why the feather?
KM: The feather is iconic. If you have a white feather, it is a symbol of defeat. Kids will pick up a feather and they will be Hiawatha, it’s a transformative object and they provide warmth and flight, and it also has a method of attraction and that all ties in with what we do to adorn ourselves, in fashion. The feathers do that to the bird; they attract a mate with their various colours.

A feather print scarf hung up around trees in a forest

LUX: In what ways does your art draw inspiration from, and connect, your current life and your childhood in Norfolk?
KM: My family had a boat, not a very smart boat, but every weekend we would go away on this boat and we would travel at reed height across very quiet waterways and I would be the one spotting the Bittern and the Marsh Harrier, like a tiny little vole or an otter if we were lucky and kingfishers if we were very lucky. Now, I live on the Thames, at Weybridge, and I see a kingfisher every single day and I feel like I could never leave that house because that’s such a special thing.

A brown, blue and amber feather print scarf

LUX: How do you incorporate sustainability into your work?
KM: My work is made with sustainable materials, they last a long time, although they are very delicate, provided they are looked after very well. We try and use recycled packaging; we are very conscious of that. We don’t use bubble wrap. We try and wrap as carefully as we can but it’s very difficult because the moment a piece leaves the studio it’s very difficult to insist things are done in the way you would do them in your studio, but we try.

A woman holding a black and grey feather print scarf around her back

LUX: Do you think contemporary art holds a political or fundamental duty to contribute to sustainable changes?
KM: I think so. Going to art shows and seeing them put down a carpet on a Monday and take it up on Sunday and put it in a bin is terrible. If they organised themselves properly they could find a homeless charity and they could use the carpet for 20-15 homes, but they don’t do that; they put it in the bin. Everyone has a duty. Art is a glamourous world, so some people aren’t interested in it.

Read more: Millie Jason Foster on supporting female artists

LUX: What next? Will you return to sculpture or continue in wearable mediums?
KM: Of course, this is very much a tiny fraction of my practice. I have an exhibition opening at the end of this month with Iris van Herpen and she has selected my work to go along with her grand retrospective. I also have work going to Miami at the Untitled Art Fair, with a two-person booth there with Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire, I have loads of commissions and working very hard.

Find out more: katemccgwire.com

Share:
Reading time: 6 min
A painting of two blue people with gold around them and flowers
A painting of two blue people with gold around them and flowers

Stacey Gillian Abe, Whispers Of Sorghum, 2023

The renowned British curator behind the hit art show ‘In the Black Fantastic’, Ekow Eshun, speaks to Candice Tucker about his curatorial process and his most recent exhibition showing at Claridge’s ArtSpace, London, titled Like Paradise

LUX: Can you tell us about the inspiration behind Like Paradise?
Ekow Eshun: Really the inspiration for the show lies in the work of a number of the artists that are in the show. I was interested in the way an artist like Frank Bowling, who is a great senior figure in the art world, historically, has looked at landscape, and looked at that from a few different perspectives. Frank Bowling used to have a studio beside the River Thames, and was very inspired by the Thames to make works that are lyrical and abstract; that don’t look like water but feel like water.

I started to think about his work, some of the work of other artists, and I began thinking about how different artists, of colour, artists from the African Diaspora, artists of South Asian background, and how a number of them are working and thinking about the visual poetry and possibility of landscape, and how they’re using that as a way to think aloud and create different narratives about the position of people of colour in British society.

LUX: Historically people of colour have been excluded from narratives about the countryside. How does this pervade into perceptions of race in current day politics?
EE: I would say those histories remain part of our present day. Britain’s a fascinating place. It’s very invested and we’re very invested as a country in ideas of landscape and nature and ideas that the countryside is where the real Britain lies and so on. So, the question comes then, when, if you’ve been historically excluded from that, where do you stand in the present day? I would say, to some extent, you stand as a stranger.

Sometimes even walking through the countryside can feel alienating to some extent. I think, with this show, I found some real inspiration in the way that artists are working with those themes, but then creating work that is thoughtful, and also inspiring, and reflective, and expansive.

A painting of a person on their knees between two people around pink flowers

Shannon Bono, Surrendering to his will, 2023

I was really excited by how many different artists are reclaiming the countryside. Maybe even on behalf of all of us and as a consequence writing a different story about not just the relationship of people of colour to landscape, but also how we, as a country, as a nation, might understand and think about and explore our world.

LUX: Black and South Asian artists come together in the exhibition. In your view, what value comes from putting different cultures in dialogue with each other in this way?
EE: We live in a multicultural society. I think more voices, not less voices, seems to be a good thing. But also when you do that, you come out with different perspectives. So, Osman Yousefzada, who’s in the show, is an artist of South Asian background. We see his work, it’s a big textile piece, but it’s drawing on myth. It’s drawing on belief systems. It’s drawing on his roots and identity in South Asia.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

I guess one of the things that excites me is that you can think about or look at the work of almost any artist, and they might be from India or Pakistan, South Asia, African origin or Caribbean origin, and they’ll potentially be reaching into their personal histories, or they’ll be reaching out geographically to their familial connections. Consequently, you don’t know, really, what will come out of that.

The exciting thing for me, in terms of putting together a show, is that you invite different perspectives. It’s not just the fact of having artists of African diaspora origin and South Asian artists in the same space. The point is to have the conversation about different perspectives and points of view and the possibilities that might arise out of all of that. So, it’s the conversation between those artworks. It’s a conversation between cultures. It’s an intertwining of perspectives and identities and histories.

an abstract red and green painting

Sam Ross, Earth – interior – descend, 2023

LUX: Tell us about your curatorial process. How do you choose which artists to feature, and which works will complement each other best?
EE: I always look at the work of artists that I’m inspired by, that I admire, and I always have a running list in my head of artists that I would like to approach, artists that I would like to work with. So, doing a show is a good opportunity to reach out to some of those artists. But you’re also trying to put together a kind of mosaic. If I have one or two abstract artists, trying to measure those up, possibly with some figuration. Maybe I have some photography; it’s about trying to balance the whole thing.

Part of the skill of it, I like to think, or the challenge, let’s say, of putting on the show is, can you create an exhibition that works on different registers or tones at the same time? Thematically, can you find a connection across the artworks? But also, aesthetically, can you find ways that works speak to each other, perhaps in terms of their form, i.e. abstraction or vibration, but also, sometimes, just even the different colours that come to the surface when you start to gather the works together. The truth is, partly I’m working through guesswork, partly I’m working through these artists who are engaged in a similar set of exploration, so what happens when you put them together?

LUX: Are there any particular works that you think particularly complement each other?
EE: There’s more than a few of them! We have the work by Frank Bowling. It’s a large abstract work in pinks and blues and yellows and greens. Across, opposite from the space, there’s an abstract work by Samuel Ross, who’s known as a designer as much as he is a visual artist. It’s an abstract work in denser shades of reds and browns. It’s a heavier painting in some ways, but both of these are works that, again, are exploring the physicality or the possibility of landscape and light and Earth almost kind of in itself.

But then we can look over across the room. There are two paintings by an artist called Kimathi Donkor, which show black people in landscape, apparently enjoying themselves out in the sunshine. You see some of the same colours that are in Frank Bowling’s work echoed in those paintings and you start to see how from one work to another, the colour and tone start to replay itself. So, one work can mirror another in terms of its form, in terms of abstraction or in terms of its colour scheme. You hope overall there are enough threads and continuities that can take you through the space. A lot of that stuff, you don’t spell out, you just possibly see. I guess the satisfaction is if you know it’s there and it’s waiting to be discovered.

A green and pink abstract painting

Frank Bowling, As Above So Below, 2020

LUX: Your recent exhibition In the Black Fantastic at the Hayward Gallery explored Afrofuturism, which is often associated with science, technology and urban areas. How has focusing on rural settings in this exhibition been different, and do you see the different areas interact?
EE: In a way, one of them I think leads into the other, in that one of the things I was trying to do in In the Black Fantastic was get away from notions of Afrofuturism that are just related to technology and so on. I was interested in water. I was interested in the visual poetry that comes from artists considering feeling like they are in a strange place, reckoning on the strangeness of the everyday.

In fact, I would say that In the Black Fantastic looks at speculation and myth, and so it’s actually really grounded in trying to think about how the ordinary in the everyday can actually itself be a site of strangeness and possibility. In a way, this show does something similar in that we take what’s perhaps is a more commonplace commodity, which is just the natural world, but actually we look at it with the capacity for wonder, the capacity for gazing into possibility that artists bring.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

The great thing about putting an exhibition to work with artists is that they have an absolute capacity to render the everyday in astonishing tonalities. There’s a painting downstairs by Hurvin Anderson which shows a woman on a beach but it’s dazzling, perplexing, charismatic, and compelling. It doesn’t take for granted the ordinary and in that respect, I think I’d suggest there’s a linkage from one show to the other show.

LUX: What needs to change in terms of representation in the art world?
EE: I tend not to think too much, “oh, this should change” or “this needs to change.” I tend to think, “well, okay, what can I do in my own way?” In that way, I try to put together shows that reflect aspects of the world as I see it and perhaps, I think, as some of those artists see it. I’d like to think that the result of that is a show that has beauty and possibility at its core. I think maybe the role of a curator can be to open up the space.

Like Paradise is available to view at Claridge’s ArtSpace, London

Share:
Reading time: 8 min
A woman wearing a balck top and large diamond necklace standing net to a wall with frames and black boxes in the frames
A woman wearing a balck top and large diamond necklace standing net to a wall with frames and black boxes in the frames

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

In the first part of our Italy art focus series, curated by Umberta Beretta, LUX speaks to Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo who founded her fondazione in Turin in 1995. Today, the extraordinary initiatives of Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo include transforming an abandoned Venetian island into a beacon for art and ecology

LUX: What was the first artwork you bought?
Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo: Anish Kapoor’s Blood Stone. It was on a trip to London in 1992 that changed my life.

LUX: What drives you to support art education?
PSRR: When we started in the 1990s, contemporary art received little attention in Italy. Education defines the fondazione’s identity and builds awareness of contemporary art in Italy. We offer a rich programme for schools, families and vulnerable people, and we train teachers. Our Young Curators Residency Programme sees three international graduate curators curate a joint exhibition from the work of artists they meet in Italy during a three-month stay. This develops curatorship and places Italian art in a global context. Campo is a similar course we have for Italian graduates.

books in glass boxes in a library

A view of the Lucas Arruda exhibition at the Ateneo de Madrid

LUX: What are ArtColLab and Verso?
PSRR: ArtColLab is our non-profit project to produce collaborations between artists and designers in order to help widen engagement in art – for example, Nicholas Kirkwood and Paul Kneale created beautiful limited edition shoes. Verso focuses on empowering people aged 15 to 29 in democratic processes. It is an experimental, poetic pedagogical model of exhibitions, workshops and more, on themes of citizenship, inclusion and the collective construction of possible futures.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Tell us about your philanthropy in Spain.
PSRR: I love Spain and we established the Fundación Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Madrid in 2017. Madrid is a global capital and a bridge to Latin America. The fundación is now nomadic. We presented Lucas Arruda at the Ateneo in Madrid in 2023 and we’ve also brought the Young Curators Residency Programme to Spain.

A red ball of paint on a white wall with red paint dripping

1000 Pieces, 1983, by Anish Kapoor

LUX: Who are the artists exciting you today?
PSRR: Globally, they include the painters Michael Armitage and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, and the work of Josh Kline, Marguerite Humeau, and Klára Hosnedlová. In Italy, works by Giulia Cenci, Giulia Andreani, Guglielmo Castelli and Ludovica Carbotta have joined the collection.

installations in a gallery including one with a bright green light

Installation view of Rough Rides, Police States, Broken Windows, 2015, by Josh Kline; Vandal Lust, 2011, and Slavs and Tatars, Mystical Protest, 2011, both by Andra Ursuţa, at the fondazione’s recent show, “Backwards Ahead”

LUX: What is the San Giacomo recovery project?
PSRR: This island, a military site abandoned for more than 60 years, will become an outpost of dreams, a place to produce and show art, and host research and discourse on contemporary culture.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Umberta Beretta

With its delicate lagoon ecosystem, we will implement principles of sustainability and energy transition there. The fondazione will enable San Giacomo to become a meeting place for artists, environmentalists and the public.

An island with a house on it in the middle of the sea

The isola San Giacomo, which has been a pilgrim refuge, a place of quarantine and a military site, is being transformed by the fondazione in the name of art

LUX: What will be your legacy?
PSRR: I hope I am giving back to the community what I have been fortunate to learn during 30 years in contemporary art. Time passes and I think of my two sons, who are also passionate about art, so I am building something that will take on new shapes with future generations.

 fsrr.org

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
A woman wearing a black and yellow dress standing between two old men
A woman wearing a white blazer with her arms folded

Italian art collector and philanthropist Umberta Beretta

Italy’s contemporary art scene is blooming. After decades of being perceived as a museum of the past, the home of the Renaissance is experiencing another rebirth under a new generation of philanthropists, curators and collectors. Guest editor Umberta Gnutti Beretta introduces and curates some of the key figures on the new Italian scene for LUX’s Italy Art Focus series

Art philanthropy has been a part of Italian culture since before the time of the Medici. It is a tradition that is not incentivised by tax breaks, as it is in countries including the US, but it is very prominent all the same. It is for this reason that we see the significant and powerful exercises of Italian philanthropy that we are showcasing in LUX.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Italian philanthropy happens among all generations including the young. We can see this in the case of Edoardo Monti, who was 26 and living in New York when, in 2017, he decided to move back to Italy, to a family palazzo in Brescia, to start the Palazzo Monti residency.

A woman in a white jacket standing next to a man in a suit

Umberta Beretta with Edoardo Monti at Spazio Almag

We are also seeing the increasing role of women. There is Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, who supports contemporary artists and whose team curates art for everyone to enjoy. There is Gemma De Angelis Testa, who created ACACIA, an association of friends of Italian art, and who has donated 105 works to Ca’ Pesaro Gallery in Venice from her private collection. Giovanna Forlanelli Rovati opened the Fondazione Luigi Rovati, named after her late father-in-law, recently adding an art museum showing Etruscan and contemporary art. Beatrice Trussardi runs the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi as a nomadic project that creates exhibitions in often forgotten spaces and places. L’Espresso magazine did a story on all of us: the mecenate, female patrons of the new Italian art revolution.

Two women standing together, one waving her hand

Umberta Beretta with artist Jenny Holzer

Despite its rich art history, Italy is not a leader in the contemporary art world in terms of money – most auction activity is in London, New York, Paris or Asia. But in terms of seeing art, everyone wants to come to Venice or Milan or Florence. The quality here is very high. We have artists such as Maurizio Cattelan
, who stands out in the contemporary art scene, and Lucio Fontana in modern art history, but there is so much more. Paola Pivi and Marinella Senatore are very interesting, and there are rising stars like video artist Diego Marcon, transspecies performance artist Agnes Questionmark and industrial artist Arcangelo Sassolino.

Two men and a woman standing on a gold staircase

Umberta Beretta with Arcangelo Sassolino and Paolo Repetto

In addition to hosting foundations, Italian cities have become places for contemporary artists from around the world to live and work. Danish artist Leonardo Anker Vandal is in Brescia; Ignasi Monreal from Barcelona and
Thelonious Stokes from Chicago live and work in Florence; and Ukrainian artist Daria Dmytrenko is in Venice. As well as being the location of the Palazzo Monti residency, Brescia is the Italian Capital of Culture this year. And Florence has the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, where Arturo Galansino has created a world-class art museum. So artists can come to Italy and take a look at what surrounds them, old and new, and be inspired. It’s different, in my view, from going to a loft space in New York and taking a look around that.

A woman wearing a black and yellow dress standing between two old men

Umberta Beretta with artist duo Gilbert and George

Our very strong commercial galleries include Massimo de Carlo, and kaufmann repetto by Francesca Kaufmann and Chiara Repetto, both in Milan. In my Brescia hometown, Massimo Minini opened Galleria Massimo Minini in 1973.

Read more: An Interview with Maurizio Cattelan

He is a great gallerist and has a long history of friendship with amazing artists, including artists of the Arte Povera of the 1960s. The art scene in Italy is very old, but it is also very new. It’s an exciting time both in Italian art and Italian art philanthropy.

Umberta Gnutti Beretta is a philanthropist who supports work in fields of medicine, women and children’s rights and the arts. Among many roles, she is on the governing council of the Fondazione Brescia Musei and is President of the Restoration Club of the Museo Poldi Pezzoli.

umbertagnuttiberetta.com

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
A woman sitting on a char with a another woman resting on the armrest.
A woman sitting on a char with a another woman resting on the armrest.

Aurelie Cauchy and Leslie Ramos, founders of The Twentieth © Juan Cuartas Rueda

Leslie Ramos and Aurelie Cauchy are co-founders of The Twentieth, a pioneering art advisory that focuses on supporting the arts and culture. Following the launch of Ramos’ book, Philanthropy in the Arts: A Game of Give and Take, Samantha Welsh speaks to the founders of The Twentieth about the new generation of philanthropists emerging from around the world, with different motivations and priorities and what the future holds for arts philanthropy given the rapidly changing landscape

LUX: What compelled you to layer arts philanthropy onto traditional arts advisory?
Leslie Ramos: The simple answer is that we spotted a gap in the market. We saw more and more aspiring collectors coming to the art world eager to support the ecosystem they admired, but they would find that although there were many people helping them buy and sell, there was almost nobody actively encouraging them to give back and helping them to do it.

Aurelie Cauchy: Moreover, we also feel that the art world in general is becoming increasingly dominated by the art market, focusing very strongly on sales, sales, and more sales. We wanted to build something that tried to push back against that a bit and in a small way remind people that a good collector is someone who also cares about the art world ecosystem.

LUX: Does arts philanthropy today bear any resemblance to its origins?
LR: The basic system of the most privileged in society actively supporting something they care about hasn’t changed much. What does change all the time are the underlying dynamics, like people’s motivations. We are seeing a real shift today in the role status has in philanthropy, with younger philanthropists being much less keen to have their names carved above doorways, for example.

AC: The pandemic has also reinforced the desire to help locally, with a focus on causes such as health and poverty, at a moment when social justice became more prominent than ever. Without taking anything away from other extremely pressing causes, one of the missions that we feel we have is to show philanthropists how supporting the arts can be an effective way of addressing these other societal causes and something that should sit as part of their wider philanthropic portfolio.

people sitting around a coffee table hosting a panel discussion

The European Fine Art Foundation panel discussion on next gen collecting and philanthropy at the Art Business Conference in 2023 © David Owens

LUX: Why is arts-funding important amidst crises in education and healthcare provision?
AC: It is true that causes like poverty, health, and children will always, and perhaps should always, be more important causes for philanthropy than the arts, but that doesn’t mean the arts should be ignored. For one, art has incredible power within societies. As Leslie wrote in her book, ‘The power of art shows us that humans can dream and think about the world not only as it is, but as it could be’, and in this regard the arts are particularly powerful in conveying important messages about the world and society.

LR: One example that I think is quite potent and that I tell our clients, is to look at what the philanthropist Jeff Skoll has done with his film production company Participant Media. Almost every film in the past 20 years, that has spurred real conversation about important issues facing society, has been funded by Skoll. The collector and philanthropist Sarah Arison also described this very well when I interviewed her for my book. She said that, for her, we must change the way we think of the arts, not as siloed disciplines but collaborative and interconnected, and this is crucial to bringing awareness to all sorts of issues.

In the end, it is critical for people to really care about what they support. This is why the experiential and social part of the art world is actually quite valuable – the events, galas, previews, and perks offered to supporters are not only quite fun, but they help people learn and be more comfortable.

It is also why we guide (or drag!) our clients to artists’ studios, museums, and non-profits of all sizes to really understand what their money can do and reassure them that it will be well spent.

A gold tent outside

Jesus Rafael Soto, Penetrable, 1992. © Archives Fondation Maeght

LUX: You also advise museums and non-profits, artists, and some brands as well?
LR: Yes, we do a lot of work with museums and non-profits, advising them on all sorts of things, but mostly around improving their financial resilience or helping them execute their vision. Aurelie has been doing a lot of work with the Centre Pompidou, expanding its international circle of donors, especially throughout the US, to support the enrichment of its collections. At the same time, I have been working closely with the Fondation Maeght in the South of France, helping them build their first patrons’ scheme with supporters from across the world, and advising them on their capital campaign for a new extension due in 2024.

AC: Our work with artists and brands is not so dissimilar to what we do with collectors. Often successful artists get to a point when they want to give back and we help them build their philanthropic initiatives, like foundations and artist residencies. Likewise, many brands, particularly luxury brands, are looking for genuine engagement with the arts, whether it’s through strategic collaborations or philanthropic initiatives that resonate with their ethos and serve their client-centric strategy, corporate social responsibility, and branding.

LUX: How do you work with individual clients in terms of evaluating their intentions and guiding them?
AC: It varies slightly from client to client. One thing is enthusiasts taking their first steps in the art world, perhaps starting a collection, or beginning to get involved with institutions in a meaningful way. Theirs is more a process of discovery initially, seeing what resonates. Whereas long-term supporters who want to take their philanthropy to the next level and perhaps build their own foundation, for them it’s more about refining and executing their vision.

The common thread is that we view our role as a catalyst, helping our clients become respected forces in the arts and culture world. This means being independent, unbiased, and transparent, which is why, for example, we do not charge commissions on transactions like a lot of advisors do. We would rather that our clients can trust us and be sure our advice is completely independent than constantly feeling pressured to spend.

The other side of the coin is that we only work with clients who are, or want to be, philanthropic. We are very clear with that and we are different from most arts advisors in that regard.

A woman with borwn hair holding a pink boo by a table stacked with pink books.

Leslie Ramos at the launch of ‘Philanthropy in the Arts, A Game of Give and Take’, published by Lund Humphries in collaboration with Sotheby’s Institute of Art

LUX: Are there barriers and what is the approach to impact measurement?
LR: While measuring impact to some extent is valuable, it is much more so to identify non-profits who know what they are doing and whose mission aligns with the giver and then trust them to do what they do best. I think the best arts philanthropists instinctively understand the positive effect the arts can have. So many studies have shown the proven positive effects on mental health as well as the positive economic impact on communities.

LUX: How are newer players influencing codes and interactions?
AC: It’s difficult to summarise because there are new people coming to the arts from all over the place. Of course, a lot of the attention recently has been on the tech money, but although it might be a stereotype to say that tech millionaires have no interest in arts and culture, it does seem, for now, to be the case. There are exceptions of course, like Sean Parker’s Parker Foundation or Komal Shah and Gaurav Garg’s Shah Garg Foundation. Both are important collectors and philanthropists from that world doing truly wonderful work.

One of the most interesting areas of the world that we are keeping our eyes on is South-East Asia and the new generation of collectors in places like Singapore, Indonesia, and Taiwan. Indonesia especially is an incredibly charitable society with a high value placed on the arts. India has also recently seen the rise of its UHNW population, with first generation wealth and inter-generational givers alike showing great interest in strengthening the philanthropic culture and infrastructure.

LUX: Where is private philanthropy leading national conversations through art discourse?
LR: Private support can often act faster than governments and be more curious and less risk averse. This means that in countries where there is yet to be a state-backed cultural support system, philanthropists are often key to giving artists and non-profits the resources they need. After all, artists can be found everywhere, and thank goodness for that!

A lit up house in the evening with a pool and trees around it

Eacheve, the independent non-profit organisation dedicated to creating new opportunities for Ecuadorian artists © Intemperie Studio

Take, for example, the work being done by the Ecuadorian arts foundation EACHEVE. For a few years now, the founder, Eliana Hidalgo, has been determined to give Ecuadorian artists global exposure and opportunities, supporting residencies, exhibitions, publications and soon a permanent exhibition space in Guayaquil. EACHEVE even published the first ever compendium of contemporary Ecuadorian artists, a book that has become a global reference and the first of its kind. This kind of work is where philanthropy can take a lead, and when done well, it can also be ‘contagious’, encouraging others to get behind a great cause and ultimately influence state decisions.

LUX: How can the State incentivise and direct giving?
LR: State support is critical in providing a supportive environment for philanthropy, and this doesn’t just mean providing tax incentives or funding matching programmes. Although they do work, it’s more about providing a framework and actively incentivising more philanthropists more holistically within your country.

Singapore is a great example of this. They have extended their (massive) 250% tax deductions for donations to 2026 to foster a culture of philanthropy, but it is combined with their SG Arts Plan (2023-2027), developed by the National Arts Council, which is designed to invigorate the art world more generally.

This is something I am hoping future UK governments will start improving because recently encouraging philanthropy in the UK has been neglected, in my opinion. In part, this is because it is viewed as a rather unfavourable thing to support politically. Having launched a successful £80m scheme to encourage more philanthropy in 2010, since then the current UK government has done very little. As things stand, the wealthiest in UK society only give a miserly 1% of their income to charity every year.

A building with a tube slide across it

Centre Pompidou

LUX: Is there a downside to state intervention?
LR: Without wanting to get too caught up in a rather complex topic, there are obviously issues with censorship and oppression of artists and creatives in many parts of the world. Equally, there are many examples of populist governments taking control of museums and cultural organisations by putting their cronies in charge.

But I still believe that perhaps the most damaging thing a state can do is be ambivalent. This was often the case in Italy in the past, where especially state museums were resting on their laurels and simply stagnant. In 2014, the newspapers in Italy gleefully reported that the restaurant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York made more money in a year than all of Italy’s museums combined. But since then, new government initiatives, the growth in corporate sponsorship from big Italian companies, particularly the luxury sector, and a general sense of key people wanting to put in more effort, means things are slowly going in the right direction.

LUX: How optimistic are you that arts philanthropy can catalyse a better world?
AC: Arts philanthropy is vital to fill the gaps, supporting artists, art education, and art institutions that struggle to secure adequate funding from just government and commercial sources.

Take arts institutions, from leading museums to small non-profits, who are the many beating hearts of the art world, it is important to allow them to continue their invaluable work and survive. The former Met CEO Dan Weiss wrote a wonderful book on the subject, saying that “museums have played a vital role in our culture, drawing on Enlightenment ideals in shaping ideas, advancing learning, fostering community, and providing spaces of beauty and permanence”.

A woman wearing an orange and pink top speaking to a man sitting on a couch

Aaron Cezar, founding director of the Delfina Foundation in conversation with Leslie Ramos

Arts philanthropy is there for these institutions to ensure they can navigate a challenging landscape with financial resilience and be sustainable, relevant, and impactful in the long run, and in the end, it helps create a more vibrant and diverse society where everyone, regardless of background or financial means, can have access to art and culture.

LR: At the same time, I would like to finish on a sentiment that was shared by Darren Walker, the President of the Ford Foundation, in a recent interview. Walker, a great advocate for philanthropy, had come across something Martin Luther King Jr. had written, where King had pointed out that although commendable, philanthropists should recognise the economic injustice that makes philanthropy necessary. “King was saying that, yes, the work of philanthropy must be about charity and about generosity”, Walker said. “But it should also be about justice and dignity … It requires of the philanthropist an interrogation of our own complicity in the very problems we are seeking to solve.”

Find out more: thetwentieth.com

Share:
Reading time: 11 min
A colourful painting of a woman walking into a house
A blonde woman wearing a white shirt sitting in front of a blue orange and red block colour painting

Sophie Neuendorf, Vice President of Artnet and Senior Contributing Editor at LUX

Sophie Neuendorf, Vice President of Artnet and LUX Senior Contributing Editor, turns her insider’s eye to emerging trends to bring us her art-world predictions for 2024

1. Online fine art sales will take up more market share
According to financial services company UBS, online fine-art sales made up 16 per cent of the $68 billion global fine-art market in 2022, up from six per cent in 2019. With the rise of a new tech-savvy generation and the desire for digital solutions and experiences, I predict online sales will continue to rise.

2. All eyes will be on Christie’s and Sotheby’s
It’s no secret that the art market has been volatile recently. Sotheby’s failed to consign several hot single-owner sales and Christie’s had the Fineberg sale disaster. But with a summer Sotheby’s sale that included a rare Klimt portrait with an estimate
of $80 million and Christie’s total sales outperforming Sotheby’s for the first half of 2023, the fightback is on. Will Christie’s finally emerge as the art-world auction powerhouse? The stage is set for 2024.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

3. There will be a consolidation of the market
A plethora of art-related companies have surfaced over the past few years. The question is, with online experiences and transactions increasing, which companies will take the lead in this hot segment? I predict that only a few companies will survive and take the lead in the market, especially because of socioeconomic pressures, and this will become apparent during 2024.

4. Art and fashion collaborations will expand
I recently spoke to a friend who works in one of the major haute fashion houses about the rapidly increasing collaborations in art and fashion. These are fruitful creative marriages with benefits on both sides. While the fashion industry gains depth and seriousness, fine art can gain new potential collectors. There have been controversies, such as the concerns over Louis Vuitton’s 2023 collaboration with Yayoi Kusama. At Saint Laurent, however, Creative Director Anthony Vaccarello is doing a remarkable job in supporting established and emerging artists, just like Yves Saint Laurent himself. There’s an exhibition space at the Rive Droite site and global pop-up shows including Sho Shibuya at Art Basel Miami Beach.

A colourful painting of a woman walking into a house

Christmas in California, 2022, by Guimi You. The Korean artist is a LUX favourite. Image chosen by our editorial team, not an endorsement by the writer

5. Museums will deaccession more works
The Whitney Museum of American Art recently deaccessioned seven works, including four by Edward Hopper, with proceeds from the sales said to be going to support new acquisitions. Hopper is indisputably one of America’s greatest artists and it strikes me that the action caused panic in the market – works by Hopper were predicted to take a tumble in value. This is the unfortunate side-effect of deaccessioning artworks. However, I personally feel that an artwork is far better served on an art lover’s wall than in a museum vault.

6. ESG will have a greater foothold in the market
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) is a framework that is rapidly gaining in importance. It is not only an indicator of the sustainable health of an economy or company, it is also driving decision-making among the new generation of collectors. Where the baby-boomer generation was interested in how an artist draws from art history, the new generation of collectors is more concerned with asking about what drives the artist. What are they trying to communicate with their work? Does it represent the zeitgeist and discuss contemporary themes, such as #MeToo, Black Lives Matter or the war in Ukraine? In trying to captivate the new generation, galleries will have to engage with ESG reporting and initiatives.

Read more: Artist Ricky Burrows: From the streets to the studio

7. Expenditure in fine art as an asset will increase
I always advise to buy for passion, but with an investment view. According to cultural economist Claire McAndrew, investments in fine art are especially lucrative during inflationary and recessionary periods. I have noticed significantly increased movement over the past few months, especially on the private sales side of the market. From an eye-opening Lichtenstein to a rare Caravaggio, never have I been offered so many works for private sale and acquisition. With the impending transfer of wealth from the baby boomer to the millennial generation, I predict there will be many a marvellous work to hit the auction block in 2024 and, indeed, over the next few years.

Find out more: artnet.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
A girl with dark hair wearing a black dress and black boots sitting on a chair with a green painting behind her
A girl with dark hair wearing a black dress and black boots sitting on a chair with a green painting behind her

Millie Jason Foster, co-founder of Gillian Jason Gallery

Whilst art has often been perceived as a feminine subject, particularly in schools, men are disproportionately more successful than women in the arts. Here, Candice Tucker speaks with  Millie Jason Foster, who along with her mother Elli, founded Gillian Jason Gallery to promote female-identifying artists from across the generations

LUX: What is the role of education in encouraging female artists?
Millie Jason Foster: I think that like most careers, but also like most people who are interested in exploration, education is really important. I think that when it comes to education in the arts, it’s an essential space to experiment and to learn. We have artists that we represent who have been painting for a long time and then have decided to go back and do a Masters and it’s that space of exploration on a residency or doing a Masters that their practice really takes off. They’re not just working in a vacuum in their own studio; they begin to be able to have a dialogue with other artists and see the world in a different way.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Despite the fact art is pushed as a feminine subject in schools and most art students are female, the majority of longstanding successful artists are men. Why do you think this is?
MJ: It’s like that across a lot of industries. My background is in finance and investment banking, and you can see the same there. A lot of people at the younger or junior entry levels of the finance industry are women, and then as you get higher and higher up the ranks, there are fewer of us, and it’s really the same in the art world. 65 per cent of women take up art school positions, but in the marketplace, it’s 65 percent of male representation and I’m hoping that that will change over time, but that’s why the gallery exists and what our mission stands for.

I also think that there’s a history of art being a very male-dominated industry, and I think that takes time to change. Even looking at the Royal Academy, they didn’t let women in in the same capacity as men for a very long time, and that is a long-standing British institution for the art world. Only having men means that all those ripple effects go down the line even to today. Only today we had the first all-female retrospective with Marina Abramović. So, the tides are changing, but I think it takes a lot of time to alter such a dense patriarchal system.

Green and pink paintings on white walls with white seats in the room on the wooden flloor

Gillian Jason Gallery was founded in 1982 by Gillian Jason and later relaunched by her daughter and granddaughter Elli and Millie Jason Foster

LUX: Do you think the Gillian Jason Gallery, which operates from a feminist perspective, provokes a different kind of collecting?
MJ: I hope that we do but not necessarily a feminist stance on collecting. I think that we showcase the best of art by women, no matter what the theme or the concept of the artist might be. So, although it might be feminist art to do with female issues, it also might be to do with sustainability, other cultural issues, race or gender or anything at all. What we’re really looking for is something that is visually resonant, but also intellectually important and that needs to have some weight to it. What we’re looking at is trying to define the best of art by women in the marketplace. We want to present the best quality art, but also with a sustainable look at careers because we’re looking at creating career longevity for every artist that we work with. We hope that collectors will come back to us time and time again to support those artists.

LUX: How do you bring in issues around sustainability into the gallery?
MJ: That comes in lots of different ways. In our office on, an operational level, which aren’t always that interesting but really are important for us, we have put all our catalogues online and created QR codes, in order to save paper and reduce waste and plastic. In terms of sustainability in our approach, we work with a lot of female artists who tackle ingenious and intellectual themes. For example, we worked with an artist called Julia Bennett at the beginning of this year. She focuses on solely making canvases out of mycelium. She’s looking at how art can be created and then returned to the ground when we’re done with it.

LUX: You have set up a network for young collectors called New Vanguard Collectors. What are the biggest challenges for young collectors?
MJ: I think there are two challenges for young collectors. One is access, and two is understanding. I’ll start with understanding actually, because with understanding, it’s about trying to gauge what you want to buy and why. My background is in a corporate job and I found that I have a lot of corporate friends who are now earning a lot more money but they don’t know where they want to spend it or how. They’re coming to me and asking, “Where do I start?” It’s the same with anyone who doesn’t work in finance, where do I start? What do I invest in? What do I look at? And if you flip it on its head from that perspective, I think it can be really daunting.

A mother wearing a trench coat hugging her daughter who is wearing a black short sleeve dress

Directors of Gillian Jason Gallery, Elli Jason Foster (left) and Millie and Jason Foster (right)

The point of New Vanguard is to help collectors explore the art world more, because collecting can be an investment but also a hobby. I think combining the two today is important for young collectors because we don’t have that much spare cash for anything so if you’re going to invest in something, you have to love it. You have to understand that you want to support the artist and what you’re paying towards it, but you also want to know that in five years time the work is at least going to be what you paid for it, if not more. I think that recognising the need to change collections over time is important, the same way we change our wardrobes, or we develop who we are in a five-year period. I think there has to be a nod to investment and sustainability that way.

Secondly then, access. New collectors don’t get a look in at art fairs or with other large galleries because they haven’t got a roster of other amazing art works that a gallery will say, “Yes, I’ll give you a piece that you love.” So, access is a really big sticking point and with New Vanguard I want to make sure that I help collectors acquire the art that they want to collect, whether it’s with my gallery or another one, because I can assist with access in the art world.

LUX: Gillian Jason Gallery has been around since the 1980s. How has the focus on female artists changed since then?
MJ: My grandmother started the gallery in the 1980s, and her background was a ballet dancer, and my grandfather was an actor, so they came from very theatrical backgrounds. When she stopped dancing, she decided to open a gallery on the ground floor of her townhouse in Camden. At the time, Gillian really became a frontrunner in modern British art, and was a very formidable dealer in that sector, but all along her career championing modern British art, there was always a focus on women. For example, she would always focus on the wife of the famous artist, who was also an artist in her own right. She would do a duo show between David Bomberg and his wife Lillian Holt, and she helped Lillian Holt have one of her pieces acquired by the Tate. Gillian always had this legacy of really focusing on art by women. So, when it came to taking over the gallery a few years ago, in 2019, we decided to take her legacy and found a gallery that solely represents art by women. We were the first to do it.

abstract colourful art works on a white walls

Works by Berenice Sydney, exhibited at Gillian Jason Gallery

LUX: Have you noticed a drastic change in the representation of female artists since you started?
MJ: No, and it’s been nearly half a decade. I have noticed that more people are waving the flag of supporting art by women, but not necessarily putting their money where their mouth is. At art fairs a third of representation is women and I don’t even want to talk about the prices because it doesn’t even match any of the men. Even at auction, in the top ten, I think there’s two female artists: Georgia O’Keeffe and Jenny Saville, and they don’t make the top five. Those kind of shifts still haven’t moved, and there are extraordinary female artists that just aren’t hitting any of the pricing that male artists are, and I think it’s going to be a long struggle to try and change that outlook.

Read more: Francis Sultana: The life of a leader in design

LUX: What’s the benefit of being a purely female or all female identifying gallery?
MJ: I love having an identifiable mission, and it really helps focus on the best of art by women. It shows collectors that we’re looking for the best of art by women, and it shows artists that we’re looking for the best of art by women. Having that strong network is really important to us, because it means that we’ve founded a community where everyone talks to each other about how they can best support one another. There’s no competition. It’s all about collaboration. We get calls from collectors sometimes saying, “I found this new, incredible female artist, I think you should work with her.” And the same with our artists. We put them all in touch to try and understand best practices. I think that community and safe space is really important, and there have always been safe spaces for art by women and I think that GJG allows that to continue.

LUX: Do you think there will be a point where it won’t be necessary for Gillian Jason Gallery to exist and do you hope that this will be the case?
MJ: I hope that there will be a time where it’s not necessary for Gillian Jason Gallery to only support art by women, and that time will exist when there is a minimum of 50/50 in the art market in terms of representation and pricing for women and men, but I don’t think I’ll see that in my lifetime.

Find out more: gillianjason.com

Share:
Reading time: 9 min
Two women standing on either side of frames hung on the walls of a gallery
Two women standing on either side of frames hung on the walls of a gallery

Founders of Shrine Empire Shefali Somani (left) and Anahita Taneja (right)

Anahita Taneja & Shefali Somani founded Shrine Empire in 2008 with a mission to support South Asian artists. Here the gallerists speak to Samantha Welsh about the development of India’s art scene and the importance of collaboration to build up South Asia’s art community

LUX: How did you start to work together?
Anahita Taneja & Shefali Somani: Back in 2006 we met over a sale of an artwork and found common links in Kolkata, India. That was when we first decided to collaborate and work together on a group exhibition in 2007. It led us to work further together as two separate entities, the Shrine Gallery and Empire Art, in exhibitions in Singapore and then the first edition of India Art Fair. Over a period of time, we realised that we had a similar vision and believed in practices of similar artists in South Asia, so we joined hands and started Shrine Empire in 2008.

A room with art and a red light a man sitting on a bench watching a video from a projector

Yoshinori Niwa, Our Human Spirit Under Capitalism, Prameya Art Foundation, curated by Anushka Rajendran

LUX: What was ground-breaking about what Prameya Art Foundation (PRAF) offered?
AT & SS: In India we’ve only had a handful of art foundations who have consistently done good work. Due to the dearth of funding and patronage, many private entities have had to take not-for-profit initiatives under their belt and promote the growth of the art community in India. We realised the need for an institution which would help to build the art ecosystem, would provide opportunities for artists, writers and curators, and create international partnerships to help build a network to benefit the community here. It was the need of the hour.

A white room with simple art works on the walls

Neerja Kothari, Keeping Score, Shrine Empire

What made Prameya Art Foundation stand out from the rest was that we supported initiatives that never really had any funding or support in India. For example, PRAF Publish which is our artist book grant, Art Scribes Award, our residency and exhibition grant for curators, PRAF Participatory which leads international artists workshops and exhibitions, Pair Award offering grants to mid-career artists, and our imminent launch of India’s first major video production grant.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

With PRAF Participatory (one of our initial programs) we have invited artists like Sue Williamson (South Africa), Paul Wong (Canada), Bracha I. Ettinger (France), and Yoshinori Niwa (Japan) all of whom have visited India as part of this programme, and have collaborated with invited artists and creative practitioners from this country to create artworks.

A room with art and a red light a man sitting on a bench watching a video from a projector

Rehabilitating our human spirit under capitalism by Yoshinori Niwa, curated by Anushka Rajendran

LUX: Which art weeks and fairs are particularly impactful for South Asian artists?
AT & SS: For South Asian artists, India Art Fair, Art Basel Hongkong and Art Dubai are some fairs which bring focus to artists from the region. Kochi Muziris Biennale, Colomboscope, Kathmandu Triennale and Dhaka Art Summit in fact have a larger and more significant importance, as they hold well curated conversations around artists from South Asia where curators, writers and collections get to view more of their work and bring focus and attention towards their practice.

LUX: What conversations will you be mediating through your partnership with Hello India Art Awards?
AT & SS: The collaboration of Shrine Empire with Hello India Art Awards promotes recognition for artists, curators, writers and other contributors in this field, offering them encouragement and recognition in the industry. The Award also gives a small grant to the winners and recognises certain categories such as best writer, best performance artist, best public-led initiative amongst others which otherwise do not get their due importance or support. We hope to build further patronage through initiatives like these.

A woman wearing an orange dress standing next to a woman in a grey and white outfit standing between two paintings on walls

Shrine Empire was founded in 2008 by Shefali Somani (left) and Anahita Taneja (right)

LUX: Where do you see future opportunities for engagement?
AT & SS: We hope to open up the world to India with further international collaborations and opportunities for our community here. We see a scope of growth through dialogue and engagement with other communities beyond the arts creating exposure and conversation around it. In developing our dialogue and keeping South Asia as our focus, we hope to build initiatives which help, support and create future opportunities.

LUX: What was the vision for Shrine Empire?
AT & SS: Shrine Empire was envisioned as a space to show contemporary art practices from South Asia that were relevant to context of the times and region that they belonged to. We have worked to fulfil this vision for the past fifteen years.

Wooden benches with cushions on them in a room with blue walls and small pictures on the walls

Forestial Flock Curated by Adwait Singh, Shrine Empire

LUX: How was the contemporary art market in India at that time?
AT & SS: When we started Shrine Empire, the market in India for contemporary art was nascent, and a market for experimental practices was nonexistent. Over the years due to many factors, India now has a strong growing market for contemporary art. We see a growth in the number of young collectors every year and not only from our major cities but in the past couple of years from smaller towns as well.

LUX: Is your role curatorial in terms of facilitating discourse?
AT & SS: Our role is not curatorial but we jointly decide on the discourse that we would like to facilitate through the gallery and foundation with curators we work with.

tops made of metal on a rack

Tayeba Begum Lipi, Vanity Fair, Shrine Empire

LUX: How do you offer platforms for cross-cultural participation?
AT & SS: We offer cross-cultural participation through PRAF. Many of our programmes have international partners and we select artists, writers and curators who then spend time in international residencies such as La Napoule Foundation in South of France and Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. For the first time, we will be inviting an international artist for a residency in India through Villa Swagatam, an initiative led by French Institute in India. We have recently collaborated with Han Nefkens Foundation for a major video grant for South Asian artists, which will give them an opportunity to show their work in five major institutions around the world.

LUX: What socio-political themes particularly resonate with artists you champion?
AT & SS: Our artists are working with the socio-political issues that are prevalent in the South Asian context. Mining and industrialisation in tribal areas leading to loss of indigenous ways, issues of migration both within the region and to countries outside South Asia, the politics of caste and gender, these are just some of the themes that resonate strongly with our artists.

A white room with art on the wall

Sue Williamson, Other Voices, Other Cities, Prameya Art Foundation, curated by Anushka Rajendran

LUX: What you foresee for the South Asia art scene over the next decade?
AT & SS: We see a positive shift of interest from international collectors towards South Asian artists. There is already significant attention on this region by important institutions and museums who are exhibiting and showing their works. International curators are showing a marked interest in the dialogue around practices from this region.

Read more: Patrick Sun on LGBTQ artists in Asia

There will be a significant growth in collections building on artists from South Asia and many more artists will be shown at international Biennale’s and Triennale’s. A subsequent result of these factors will lead to a rise in the market of these artists going forward.

Find out more: shrineempiregallery.com

Share:
Reading time: 6 min
The window of a gallery with hanging coloured giant skulls in the room surrounded by pictures
The window of a gallery with hanging coloured giant skulls in the room surrounded by pictures

The exterior of Albion Jeune gallery with installations from I Want to Believe by Esben Weile Kjær

Lucca Hue-Williams has opened Fitzrovia’s newest gallery, Albion Jeune. Here, LUX speaks to the founder and the inaugural exhibitng artist, Esben Weile Kjær about the opening of the gallery and the messaging behind the solo show

LUX: What inspired you to found your own gallery?
Lucca Hue-Williams: Ever since I was little, It has been an abstract dream of mine to work with artists and curators in a meaningful way. I think it has been a question of when, and not how. There have been many influential people in my life who have given me the confidence to take the steps to be where I am now, and I am incredibly grateful to them.

LUX: What were the biggest challenges you faced setting up Albion Jeune?
LHW: I wouldn’t start with drawbacks or challenges, of which of course there are some, but I see Albion Jeuene as an opportunity to work with artists and curators who I believe to be influential and important.

A girl standing in front of a large window wearing a grey striped suit

Lucca Hue-Williams, Founder and Director of Albion Jeune

LUX: Why is Esben Weile Kjær the right artist for your gallery’s first exhibition?
LHW: Esben was the perfect artist to inaugurate the gallery due to the particularly electric performative qualities of his work. Esben also speaks to our generation in a way that makes the audience contemplate what their own construction of selfhood might be. We connected over discourse surrounding notions of the iconic image in media, the civil contract of photography, and themes surrounding liquid surveillance.

After the show closes, the space will be redesigned by an exciting architect. However, this won’t be made public until after Esben’s exhibition. We envisioned a raw and more brutal-appearing space in the first instance, and I don’t want to detract from the show. We will disclose the full programme for 2024 when we announce the architect in a few months time.

Stained glass pictures hung on a wall with a a pink skull on the corner

Esben Weile Kjær Installation view, I Want to Believe at Albion Jeune, London, 2023. Image courtesy the artist and Albion Jeune. Photographed by Todd-White

LUX: You’ve spoken about the gallery’s commitment to a ‘truly global art world’. How does Albion Jeune plan to showcase a truly global perspective?
LHW: In my preparations to launching Albion Jeune, I have worked in Beijing, where I was at UCCA and then in Saudi Arabia, where I supported the curatorial team for Diriyah Biennale Foundation. I look forward to working with artists from many parts of the world, who will present work that showcases many different perspectives and themes.

stained glass pictures hung on a wall in yellow, green, red, orange and blue

Albion Jeune opened in October 2023 and I Want to Believe by Esben Weile Kjær is the gallery’s first show

LUX: If you could choose one artist from any point in history to exhibit at Albion Jeune, who would they be?
LHW: Tehching Hsieh. It would be exciting to persuade him to make a new performance work in addition to the five ‘One Year Performances’.

A stained glass picture of a girl with red hair hanging on to a blue and yellow sun shape

Esben Weile Kjær, Under the Rainbow, 2023

LUX: What are you most looking forward to in Esben Weile Kjær’s upcoming exhibition, ‘I Want to Believe’?
LHW: Esben and I have worked together closely on this show for quite some time. As this is both Albion Jeune’s inaugural exhibition as well as Esben’s debut in London, I am looking forward to seeing how the show is received by it’s audience.

A silver skull hanging from the ceiling beside two stained glass pictures

I Want to Believe is the first of a three part series by Esben Weile Kjær bringing together performance and traditional art

LUX: How would you describe the messaging and themes behind your upcoming exhibition at Albion Jeune?
Esben Weile Kjær: I make art because it’s one of the only places where you remain ambivalent. I never come with one message I always try to come up with a reflection. Through my art I try to understand the world around me. The exhibition shows how I work. You have the echo from previous performances showed as posters/propaganda in stained-glass suggesting to be part of potential architecture. Then you have the big alien skull wrecking balls pointing forward to the performance. The performance is the first act in a three act performance project continuing through 2024. The performance is a love story between humans, aliens and the youngsters wanting to identify as aliens to feel free from biology and gravity.

A person sitting on the floor wearing jeans and a black and white striped hoodie sitting next to a butterfly structure

Artist Esben Weile Kjær

LUX: Your show, “I Want to Believe’, focuses on the relationship between art, identity and commercialisation. Do you think nowadays, technology and social media has made it easier or more difficult to show one’s true identity?
EWK: In many ways easier, yes, but also much more complicated because everything gets so commodified on social media. I’m not sure I know what true identity is but it sounds cool though. I hope the performance will look like fashion kids finding liberation in anything else than what’s real.

Esben Weile Kjær’s solo show will be on at Albion Jeune gallery until 19th November.

Share:
Reading time: 4 min
A man in a suit with a red waistcoat standing in a room with art
A man in a suit with a red waistcoat standing in a room with art

Durjoy Rahman, founder of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

A philanthropic foundation from Bangladesh is creating powerful ties between art and culture in East and West, with a nexus in Italy. Greg Thomas reports on the remarkable dialogues and cross-fertilisation across the Global South and North being catalysed by the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation.

“We have craft traditions in Bengal that are thousands of years old,” Durjoy Rahman tells me from his home in Dhaka, the capital of his native Bangladesh, which is part of the wider Bengal region. A vibrant abstract painting hangs on the wall behind him, and coloured beads adorn his wrist. Since launching the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation (DBF) in 2018, the art collector and philanthropist has made it his mission to promote the creative culture of his home country and the wider South Asian region, including Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka; and to create links between the Global South and North.

Over the past five years, DBF, which grew out of Durjoy’s collecting, has supported countless creatives through residencies, exhibitions and exchange programmes. It has linked up artists, art writers and craftspeople in South Asia and Europe, but also reaching across South America, Africa and elsewhere.

A group of people standing for a photo outside a building

Members of the Venice Bangladeshi community, from the local Bangla language school, at an open studio visit, Majhi International Art Residency, Venice, 2019

A particular concern has always been to establish ties with Italy. Or rather, as Durjoy puts it, “not Italy, but Venice. When we were making plans to build bridges between East and West, and to think about how creative people from South Asia could gain greater visibility, we felt that Venice was a perfect place to focus our efforts. Because of the Venice Biennale, it’s a gathering point for global art populations.”

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The foundation’s latest project, the DBF-KMB Award, was launched in Venice in 2022 in collaboration with London’s Hayward Gallery. Every two years until 2028, curators from the Hayward, with representatives from the DBF and the Kochi Biennale Foundation, will select one outstanding South Asian artist exhibiting at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale in Kerala, to show their work at the prestigious London gallery’s  HENI Project Space.

A group of people standing by some pillars holding a flag

Members of the Venice Bangladeshi community, from the local Bangla language school, at an open studio visit, Majhi International Art Residency, Venice, 2019

The recipient of this year’s inaugural award was announced in Venice (of course) in July – creating the third side of an international triangle between South Asia, London and Venice. Amol K Patil is an artist who works with a variety of media including installations, drawings, sculptures and moving images. He was chosen for the award on the basis of his work at the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, an installation entitled The Politics of Skin and Movement; his work at the Hayward this autumn is a development of this theme. Durjoy says he admires Patil’s work for “seeking to bridge the gap between East and West, fostering an atmosphere of openness and embracing diversity.” Amol K Patil is also being supported by the DBF for his fellowship at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam for a year from September 2023.

To complement the artist award and exhibition, in alternate years, an instalment of the Durjoy Bangladesh Lecture Series, co-curated by the Kochi-Muziris Biennale Foundation and programmed by Hayward Director Ralph Rugoff, will be held at the Hayward Gallery, introducing key themes and figures from South Asian art.

A white gallery with paintings on the walls and a sculpture in the centre of the room

Arlecchino, Arlecchino and Mating Tigers, 2021, by Shezad Dawood, and Man in Shower, Porter Series, 2006, by William Kentridge, at the DBF Creative Studio, Dhaka

Durjoy often talks about his foundation’s work in terms of building bridges within and between countries. Indeed, references to water and crossings punctuate his discussion of DBF’s mission. Of equal and related significance are the affinities Durjoy sees between Bangladesh, with its maritime infrastructure and shipbuilding traditions, and the host city of the world’s most celebrated Biennale.

After all, Venice has an equally strong history of nautical trade and technology. And the businessman points out that it also has a “very large Bangladeshi community, because of the big dockyard industry. There are a lot of migrant professionals there: engineers, draughtsmen.” It is notable that, perhaps unlike some philanthropists in privileged positions in parts of the Global South, Durjoy considers all of his compatriots as equally important citizens.

Man in a black t shirt and blue jeans standing with arms crossed by a white wall

Amol K Patil, recipient of the inaugural Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation – Kochi-Muziris Biennale Award, 2023

In 2019, Durjoy launched DBF’s first major initiative, the Majhi International Art Residency Programme, hosted at Combo, a former convent in Cannaregio, Venice. This saw Venetian and Bangladeshi artists come together over two weeks to create collaborative artworks, present and perform. “The word Majhi means ‘ferryman’,” says Durjoy. “In Venice they have gondolas on their canals and in Bangladesh we have many boats on our waterways, too, so it makes sense. ‘Majhi’ also means ‘leader of the house’ or ‘leader of a group of people’, and I’d like the scheme to show a possible future direction for artistic endeavours in Europe.”

Majhi 2019 was also about nurturing local Venetian talent. Participant Andrea Morucchio is a Venetian artist whose practice raises awareness of the impact of mass tourism in Venice. His Covid 19-era project, Venezia Anno Zero, documented the serenity of La Serenissima during lockdown. “And we didn’t work in isolation from the Venetian Bangladeshi community, either,” Durjoy continues. “There’s a school that teaches Bengali to the Bangladeshi children in Venice, and the children came to see a performance by an artist from Bangladesh.”

Black and white photo of a group of soldiers with helmets wearing sweater vests

Sheikh Abu Naser, freedom fighter and younger brother of “Bangabandhu” Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, on the battlefield, 1971, by Raghu Rai, DBF Collection

Subsequent Majhi projects have also strengthened DBF’s connections with other European countries and institutions. DBF has a strong presence in Berlin, which made it possible to host the second Majhi Art Residency in Berlin in 2020 during Art Berlin, immediately before Berlin went into lockdown. In fact, DBF’s first collaboration, in 2018, was with German museum the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, to which Durjoy donated a major installation by Mithu Sen, the first work by a female Indian artist collected by a major German institution. The third Majhi residency was held in 2021 in Eindhoven, another city where the foundation has a strong presence.

A further recent major achievement of the foundation was the creation of the DBF Creative Studio. This former storage unit of Durjoy’s was converted into a gallery and space for limited gatherings during lockdown, as a way of exhibiting the wonders of the DBF collection in a safe setting.

White gallery with black and white photos of people's distressed faces on the walls

Photographs from the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war, from the book Rise of a Nation, by Raghu Rai, images from the DBF Collection, shown at the DBF Creative Studio

Through it all, connections to Venice have remained central. In October 2019, following the first Majhi residency, artists involved in the scheme came to Dhaka to take part in the city’s first Italian Contemporary Art Days, supported by the Italian Embassy in Bangladesh and other partners. This was part of the wider programme for the 15th Italian Contemporary Art Day and “a prime example of how a cultural bridge can cross borders,” Durjoy notes. Meanwhile, in Dhaka, the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation works closely with the Italian Embassy in other areas – notably staging a vintage car and motorbike event to celebrate 50 years of friendship between the two countries last year.

Read more: Art Dubai opens in support of South Asian artists

What is the wider context for DBF’s work? The idea of “writing back to the centre” is a common trope in postcolonial literature and theory. “Writing back” identifies a paradigm wherein liberated nations turn the tables on the cultures of their former colonisers through the critical optic of art and writing.

Colourful cube sculpture and wall art

Black Square Breaking into Primary Colours, 2016, by Rasheed Araeen, DBF Collection

A similar idea underpins Durjoy’s thinking on DBF’s work, which is not just about building bridges but also about subverting what he calls “the Western gaze” on South Asian culture. “It’s not about blaming anyone,” he clarifies. “It’s just that when publications about South Asian art appear, the scholars have all been groomed within the Western education system, so you get a European or American perspective.” Within news culture, meanwhile, the Western gaze has been predisposed to find images of disaster and deprivation, particularly since the 1970s, when independence from Pakistan in 1971 was followed by a period of famine and hardship for much of Bangladesh’s population.

Five men stand by a sign celebrating friendship between Italy and Bangladesh

Enrico Nunziata, Durjoy Rahman, Atiqul Islam, Shahriar Alam and Anjan Chowdhury, at the opening of the DBF/Italian Embassy vintage car and motorbike event, Dhaka, 2022

Durjoy doesn’t seek to counter negative tropes within uncritically positive ones. In fact, he is keen to talk about how the British Raj and latterly the government of Pakistan – which took control of what is now Bangladesh, first as East Bengal and later as East Pakistan, after the 1947 partition of India – both subjugated national creative cultures. “It’s not only colonialism but achieving independence late, in 1971, that has hindered the cultural development of Bangladesh,” he reflects. “And the loss of connection with our cultural heritage was due to these same factors. During colonial times, craft and creative endeavours were purposely obstructed so that craftsmen could get on with work more useful to the colonial government. Then, after the 1947 partition, still other aspects of our cultural heritage started fading away, including our own language, Bengali. There was a revolution in 1952 to protect the language.”

Strange cat like coloured sculptures presented on a wooden bridge in a gallery

History/Cartography/Territorialism, 2023, by Dhali Al Mamoon, participant in the Majhi International Art Residency in Venice, shown at the DBF Creative Studio

Happily, many of these traditions have been reborn in recent decades, with Bangladesh’s millennia-old textile industry an area of growth, notably through renewed production of jamdani, a fine handspun muslin cloth that has become an emblem of national cultural pride.

Nonetheless, as Durjoy points out, DBF’s programme for his country’s ongoing cultural rejuvenation remains timely and relevant in a global arts scene seeking to heal rifts caused by imperialism. As Durjoy puts it, in a phrase that is reminiscent of that ferryman again, the foundation is “on time”. All aboard for the ride, from Dhaka to Venice, London and elsewhere.

Read more: durjoybangladeshfoundation.org

Share:
Reading time: 8 min
A concrete building with plants and purple flowers outside it
A concrete building with plants and purple flowers outside it

The Hepworth Wakefield Museum which will acquire the work of the winner of the second edition of the Spirit Now London Acquisition Prize, supporting young female artists

Now in its second year, the Spirit Now London Acquisition Prize in partnership with Frieze London, brings together and celebrates young female artists offering them a chance to be recognised by leading art institutions

While contemporary women artists are commanding increasing investment and attention, the global art market remains under the sway of male creators. Marie-Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre’s Spirit Now London is aiming to keep women in the art world’s spotlight.

Created in 2015, Spirit Now London is a philanthropic community of patrons and collectors aiming to support emerging artists and cultural institutions, with a focus on the work of female artists. Last year, they allocated a £40,000 grant to the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge to acquire works from the Spotlight section of Frieze Masters; Sylvia Snowden was the artist selected, with her work Brown – Yo II becoming part of the museum’s permanent collection.

A gold painting with a black and beige drawing in the centre on a canvas hung on a wall

Sylvia Snowden, Brown – Yo II, c. 1978. Courtesy the Artist and Franklin Parrasch Gallery. Photo by Michael Adair

The Prize’s second edition is being held this year and aims to recognise and celebrate the outstanding achievements of women artists under 40, allowing one female artist exhibiting at the fair the unique opportunity to have her work acquired and donated to The Hepworth Wakefield’s permanent collection. The Hepworth Wakefield is a publicly funded modern and contemporary art museum located in West Yorkshire, established in 2011 and designed by London-based architect Sir David Chipperfield. The museum draws inspiration from the legacy of renowned 20th-century sculptor Barbara Hepworth, and remains committed to showcasing the works of other talented women artists.

Eva Langret, Artistic Director at Frieze London, said the fair was “honoured to be partnering with Spirit Now London,” also commenting that: “gender parity in the arts is an important conversation, as despite perceived progress, women artists remain underrepresented and undervalued throughout galleries, museums and auction houses.”

A brunette woman wearing a black top standing in front of books

Marie-Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, founder of Spirit Now London

Headed by Marie-Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, founder of Spirit Now London, the 2023 Jury is composed of Laura Smith, Director of Collection & Exhibitions at The Hepworth Wakefield; Simon Wallis, Director of The Hepworth Wakefield; and “The Spirit of Giving” Committee, featuring 16 international women, art patrons and collectors, active members from the Spirit Now London community.

The winning artist will be announced on 11th October

Find out more: spiritnowlondon.com

Share:
Reading time: 2 min
A colourful painting with large grey and gold ovals hanging from the air
A woman wearing a green top standing next to a pan in a white polo shirt leaning on a gold chair with art behind them on the wall

Aliya and Farouk Khan

Over the last 25 years Aliya and Farouk Khan have been carefully curating a collection of art works by prominent first generation Malaysian contemporary artists. Known as The AFK Collection, this is one of the most comprehensive collections of seminal artworks by a wide variety of critically relevant artists and a resource centre for information and documentation, creating awareness and knowledge on the canon and timeline of Malaysia’s dynamic contemporary art movement.Here, Samantha Welsh speaks to Aliya and Farouk about the Malaysian contemporary art scene and how its gained the institutional recognition it deserves

LUX: Relocating to Kuala Lumpur in the 1990s, what was so compelling about the art scene?
Aliya and Farouk Khan: When we moved to Kuala Lumpur in the 1990’s and began visiting gallery shows, art competitions, art museums and socialising within the art scene we discovered new forms of art that moved beyond the Modernist paintings we had been exposed to up until then. We discovered art that moved beyond the traditional modes of two-dimensional painting and sculpture into new modes of making, for example mixed media and installation. Discovering these radical new art forms was compelling, particularly as this new contemporary art scene visually and intellectually described our new adopted home of Malaysia that we had chosen to live in.

LUX: How are state institutions and private patronage partnering to build national collections?
AFK: In Malaysia there are not any partnerships between state institutions and private patronage to build national collections. Instead, the contemporary movement is strongly led by private collections. This is as state institutions are still very much contained within the modernist mode. This is characteristic within the Malaysian art industry where private collectors have always led the way and created the momentum for the development of the contemporary art ecology.

LUX: Why was the contemporary art movement in Malaysia slow to emerge?
AFK: The Malaysian contemporary art movement was not slow to emerge, but it was slow in gaining institutional recognition. Malaysian contemporary artists were well ahead of the pack, vigorously engaging in the contemporary movement. Curatorial teams within state institutions saw the contemporary movement and its use of various genres as a move away from figurative art and explained it as a move towards Islamisation in Malaysian art. This does not stand up to scrutiny because upon review you find there was no development of calligraphy art (which is a main genre within Islamic art movements) and instead a strong movement into conceptual art and mixed media. At the same time, the figure was consistently represented across all the diverse genres and modes of art making.

A completely new contemporary art movement was emerging in the post-colonial landscape of Malaysia, as artists sought to describe the changes happening around them, and unfortunately the curators of the time were not able to comprehend and articulate this artistic and intellectual shift. This has left the institutions behind.

a picture of people lying down togther

Ahmad Fuad Osman, Fatamorgana 3 The Spotlight Obsession, 2006

LUX: How was the social and economic environment at that time when you started collecting versus now?
AFK: We began collecting in an era of great dynamism. Coming from Singapore it was evident to us that what had happened to Singapore in the 1970s and 1980s was now happening to Malaysia in the 1990s. Tremendous changes were afoot.

Malaysia was undergoing rapid changes, socially and economically. The country was fast moving from a rural, agrarian focused nation to an urbanised country with strong industrial, banking, service, and tourism sectors – due mainly to government policies and an independent thinking society that blossomed in the post-colonial era. The evidence of progressive development was all around us- from the building of the iconic KLCC Twin Towers (amongst the tallest buildings in the world) to the development of major highways linking the entire country from North to South. A strong demographic shift was underway, as we saw the urbanisation of the rural Malays who moved from villages into city centres.

All these changes were encapsulated in the art movement. This was the dawning of contemporary Malaysia and contemporary art within Malaysia.

Currently the country is in a far more developed state than it was in the 1990’s. The economic success is real. The GDP of individual households is much higher. Institutions and corporations are stronger across the board. All of this has led to a far greater interest within the arts which is far more affordable for people today than it was 30 years ago. People have more disposable income and are able to engage in leisure activities and critical thinking is very relevant in daily life. We notice increasingly that art has become a way of life for the middle class. Corporates and institutions are waking up to the very real need for state and national collections as a result.

LUX: Is the discipline of collecting an art or a science?
AFK: Collecting art is a science. It follows a methodology. One must first understand the formal aspects of art creation. Then one has to understand the history and narrative of both the individual artist and broader art movement. These are important academics that one needs to develop: knowledge of history and narrative and formal aspects of art. Then the methodology of collection building comes in.

Following this sequence is far different from the general statement often heard that ‘I buy what I like’. Forming a collection goes well beyond simple acquisition. So, when people say art is subjective, we in fact differ: art is extremely objective. The value and importance of an artwork inherently exists within the way it was made and its value in the art canon. Understand which are the key works for an artist, a canon, and a thesis, then systematically collect those works to build a strong art collection.

grey and white bits glued onto a canvas

Suhaimi Fadzir, Life, July 24, 1939

LUX: How do you mentor and show artists in the specialist subsectors?
AFK: One of the most effective ways is through our method of collecting and documenting. Within our collection we talk about the subsectors (which we take to mean art genres) and through our collecting we collect the dominant artists within these sectors. This achieves two things: firstly as a guide for collecting. That we are obliged to determine the subsectors. Hence it is important to collect across all the diverse genres that represent our art movement. Secondly it emphasises to us the importance of the first-generation artists who helped develop the movement along these sectors. In fact, we have found this to be the most important tool within the formation of our collection.

Essentially, we broke down what the individual genres were, who was important within these genres and what were the seminal artworks within that. This became a foundation for the collection and why we were able to identify and acquire those seminal artworks that are the scaffolding of the Malaysian contemporary art canon.

LUX: Generally, who has the upper hand, artist or collector?
AFK: Recognition is key to the relevance and strength of either the artist or collector. The artist in their earlier phase without recognition doesn’t hold much power. As they develop and become popular, they begin to hold a lot of power. Similarly, the reputation of a museum or a private collection determines their strength. In this day and age there are private collectors who wield more power than museums and institutions. The stronger the collector patronises, supports, publishes, collects the greater the power they wield. It is not that one is stronger than the other but that at different times they all wield different powers.

A colourful painting with large grey and gold ovals hanging from the air

Zulkifli Yusoff, Hujan Lembing Di Pasir Salak

LUX: How can you codify a canon of work?
AFK: Codifying a canon of work requires diligence and a critical mind. We engaged in a great deal of research and academic input via dialogue with curators and artists well entrenched in the art scene known for progressive thought. Dialogues such as these have proved invaluable in the codification for the contemporary movement.

Subsequently we digitised the collection, making it available via our website. This has allowed our codification of the canon and knowledge inherent in our work easily accessible to broader audiences whether they are here in Malaysia or around the world. Bearing in mind very little information on Malaysian art history was available on the international front, the provision of this window of knowledge for audiences previously unfamiliar felt important.

a Chinese style colourful painting of a woman sleeping in a white dress with people around her

Eng Hwee Chu, Lost in Mind

LUX: Who have emerged as foremost among ‘first generation’ contemporary Malaysian artists?
AFK: Zulkifli Yusoff is extremely important amongst the first generation of contemporary Malaysian artists, for his role in the development of conceptual and installation art. He was also the first Malaysian artist to be invited to exhibit twice at the Venice Biennale. The AFK Collection were delighted to loan his seminal installation ‘Kebun Pak Awang’, which is highly characteristic of his research based process and strong artistic skill, to Venice Biennale in 2019.

Fauzan Omar is another key first generation artist, whose importance lies in both his work as an artist and arts educator. Fauzan’s most important contribution was to create a challenge against the perceived sanctity of a canvas’ surface via destructive methods such as ripping and tearing, before engaging in reconstructive methods to build up highly textural mixed media works that changed the way in which art was produced locally. It was an extremely radical practice that has had a lasting impact.

Ahmad Shukri was one of Fauzan’s closest students who has gone on to become possibly Malaysia’s leading mixed media artist.

Ahmad Fuad Osman has emerged as the top multi-disciplinary Malaysian contemporary artist. An extremely conceptual artist, he has mastered diverse genres of art making- from painting to sculpture, video, print and installation- that allow him to consistently produce really exciting and impactful visual art.

Hamir Soib pioneered the trend for monolithic paintings in Malaysia. His paintings easily reach 16 or 20 feet and are filled with complex imagery that speak to the socio-political realities of contemporary Malaysia with a great deal of critical insight and wit. Along with oil and acrylic, Hamir uses bitumen as a paint source, having mastered the ability to use this notoriously difficult substance with the ease of watercolour allows him to create extremely atmospheric gothic images.

A painting of a man in a white outfit and next to it a man in darkness wearing black

Shooshie Sulaiman, Encik Duit Orang

Shooshie Sulaiman, who is currently represented by Tomio Koyama Gallery, always impresses for her conceptually driven installations, performances, and paintings. Pre-production processes are vital for Shooshie, and she engages in them with great poetry. Shooshie has the distinction of being the first Malaysian artist invited to exhibit at Documenta. Along with her artistic practice she has been a successful curator and gallerist.

Jalaini Abu Hassan, who was educated at Slade School of Fine Art, London and Pratt Institute,New York, perfectly encapsulates the demographic shift for rural Malays to urbanised environments that he lived through. His works are expressive and use a range of media, and most excitingly feature classic Malay iconography in super contemporary compositions. A consistent signature across all of Jai’s works are the Malay poems and idioms written in his distinctive hand. Jai has also engaged as an educator for several years, cementing his influence amongst the younger generations of Malaysian artists.

Eng Hwee Chu is a leading Surrealist painter in Malaysia. In the early 1990’s she produced a series titled ‘Black Moon’ that set the standard for Malaysian Surreal and Magical Realism, winning her several awards, and leading to international showings. Her strong figurative skill is apparent through her delight in painting crowds of people, finely finished, as demonstrated in ‘Lost in Mind’.

scarf in gold and black wrapped up in a ball

Hamir Soib, Ahad

Suhaimi Fadzir pioneered a completely new style of assemblage he titles ‘archipainting’. Suhaimi used his training as an architect to fix objects found in the world around him- from a dismantled bicycle to corrugated tin roofs to car bumpers- onto canvases in a style that merged installation, sculpture, and mixed media. It is an extremely radical and innovative practice that visually describes the growth of contemporary Malaysia very well.

LUX: What is your vision going forward?
AFK: Assembling The AFK Collection was not easy. It required a great deal of time, financing and constant discussions with curators and artists. At the same time, it is a body of work that we deeply love and are very proud of. We recognise the effort that went into putting this collection together and we hope that it will continue to be a major resource in creating greater awareness for and education on Malaysian contemporary art. We envision a society that is more knowledgeable on the wonderful Malaysian contemporary art history and artists and a society able to engage in conversation on art as easily as any other topic.

Find out more: afkcollection.com

Share:
Reading time: 10 min
A man sitting in a wheelchair, wearing red trousers, in a courtyard of a building with plants hanging over the interior balconies
A man sitting in a wheelchair, wearing red trousers, in a courtyard of a building with plants hanging over the interior balconies

Yinka Shonibare at the Guest Artists Space Foundation, Lagos, one of two artist residencies he has established in Nigeria

The Birtish-Nigerian artist and philanthropist is the official artist of, LUX’s partner, Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, at this year’s Frieze in London. In just a few short years, the Guest Artists Space Foundation spaces in Nigeria, founded by Yinka Shonibare, have seen art residences that are inspiring transformative creative conversations and programmes between artists, local communities, activists, ecologists and more. Will Fenstermaker reports

It used to be the case that if an artist working in Africa wanted a prestigious residency at which to hone their practice and dedicate uninterrupted time to their work, their best option was to look towards Europe and North America, where many programmes sought to address colonial legacies by strengthening a sense of artistic internationalism. A growing cadre of artists, including Kehinde Wiley and Yinka Shonibare, are now working to expand the opportunities available to African artists by opening residencies directly on the continent, especially focused around emerging art centres including Dakar, Senegal and Lagos, Nigeria.

clothes on the floor next to tapestries hanging on the walls

A view of “The Politics of Fabrics” exhibition by Samuel Nnorom

One such initiative is the Guest Artists Space (G.A.S.) Foundation, a non-profit established by Yinka Shonibare that occupies two sites in Nigeria. Through his programme Guest Projects London, Shonibare has hosted artists in his east London studio since 2006, more recently extending to the digital space, enabling “a laboratory of ideas and a testing ground for new thoughts and actions in which the possibility of failure became an opportunity for artistic growth”, according to its website. Shonibare, who was born in London and raised in Lagos, was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004 for work that investigated postcolonial Nigerian identity, including whimsically ornate sculptures dressed in “African” textiles and shorn of their heads. In recent years, he considered how to extend his guest programme to offer opportunity, support and space for collaboration to artists within Africa.

A headless mannequin with a dress on it in a courtyard

A view of the inaugural exhibition, curated by Miriam Bettin, at the G.A.S. Farm House

In 2019, the project realised a kind of homecoming when Shonibare first conceived G.A.S., with two spaces in Nigeria completed by 2022. The idea is to develop artist practice and facilitate cultural exchange between the continent and the UK. “I realised a lot of local artists wanted platforms in which they could enhance their work and meet other international artists to exchange ideas,” says Shonibare in a video published by the foundation. “I felt very much that I’d love to contribute to building some of the institutions there.”

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The Oniru, Lagos residency occupies a building that fuses Yoruba and Brutalist principles around a central courtyard, and was designed by Ghanaian-British architect Elsie Owusu in collaboration with Nigerian architect Nihinlola Shonibare. The residency was made open to more than artists – its first class of 2022 included designers, architects, curators, economists and researchers, all of whom, Shonibare believed, were strengthened by a sense of interdisciplinary community and creative dialogue. “I feel that we’re creating a platform for conversation between local people and our residents,” Shonibare says. “I think you actually get the best out of creatives if you put them with people in other disciplines.”

people sitting in a circle holding as pink ribbon

A moment from performance artist Raymond Pinto’s movement workshop

G.A.S. also opened a rural second space three hours outside the capital near Ijebu Ode. Like the Oniru building, the residency in the Farm House, a sustainable building designed by Papa Omotayo with interior design by Temitayo Shonibare, strives to support a conception of culture beyond the visual arts. Belinda Holden, CEO of G.A.S. and the Yinka Shonibare Foundation, the residency’s sister organisation in London, says, “Ultimately, our mission is about breaking down barriers between cultural differences. It’s about building those bridges across different cultures and different practices, and allowing those conversations to develop into opportunities for the exchange of ideas and knowledge.”

A man wearing black trousers and a white short sleeve shirt with a black top underneath sitting on the floor with a geometric picture beside him

Artist Femi Johnson at work

Yet the residency does embody a certain remit. The pastoral property is on the site of a 54-acre working farm. Corn, cassava, peppers and cashews are all grown on Shonibare’s Ecology Green Farm, established in 2018. This July, the farm welcomed its third set of residents, having previously supported short-term stays for G.A.S. Lagos-based practitioners taking part in the programme. In 2022, as a result of its inaugural open call to artists and researchers living in West Africa, G.A.S. awarded seven funded residencies to individuals based across Nigeria and Benin. Raqs Media Collective was especially motivated by the setting’s ties to the land. At the G.A.S Farm House it established an outpost of the World Weather Network, a project that sees a global network of artists and writers submit “weather reports” in the form of works of art from a “constellation” of weather stations worldwide: In Peru, Luz María Bedoya and Pablo Hare record cloud, fog and associated sounds flowing over Oxapampa; in South Africa, four artists create odes to the Orange River; in Dhaka, in Death Valley, in Svalbard, correspondents from the London Review of Books send dispatches from the extremes of climate change.

A woman wearing a white and blue top painting on the floor with blue paint

Evan Ifekoya at their presentation “Water Is Life, O!”

During her stay at the G.A.S. Farm House, activist and spatial designer Mariam Hava Aslam began pickling foods from the farm, inspiring Apocalypse Pantry, a project that supplies preserves to food-scarce areas of Lagos. Berlin-based curator and researcher Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock invited artists to cook for residents and share their work over dinner.

Read more: An Interview with Maurizio Cattelan

“We’ve had painters, sculptors, writers, poets, architects. We’ve had digital artists, we’ve had archivists, we’ve had dancers, we’ve had sound designers,” continues Holden. And that’s only year one. “Our aim is that next year we’ll really shift our focus onto the farm and encourage agriculturalists who are interested in land, environment and ecological impact.” For the upcoming year, the foundation is looking to support people “who are considering food and ecology, or thinking about the materiality of the work they produce”.

Three people speaking including a woman wearing a black and white dress and a man wearing a striped yellow shirt

Discussing work by Emma Prempeh

From the start, the ambitious residencies have attracted an impressive amount of institutional attention – perhaps most significantly in the form of a recent donation of material from John Picton, Emeritus Professor at the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS, University of London, and Sue Picton. Professor Picton, an expert on Yoruba and Edo (Benin) sculpture, spent decades assembling an important archive of West African art and ephemera, including journals, magazines, pamphlets and books covering Sub-Saharan architecture, textiles, sculpture and more, as well as African American and Black British arts. In 2022, Picton gave 1,500 volumes from the collection to G.A.S., a donation that has inspired the foundation to “look at the role of art libraries across Africa and the role they play in developing, educating and supporting the growth of creative and critical thinking and writing,” says Holden. To that end, this year G.A.S. is seeking fellows to be based in Lagos and focus their work around research into Picton’s archives.

A woman with a pony tail looking at a work of art hanging on a string with a man beside her looking at another work on the string wearing a green cap

A view of “The Last Time I Called…” exhibition by Ofem Ubi

In just a few short years, G.A.S. has become a beacon of artistic collaboration, cultural exchange and interdisciplinary dialogue. Shonibare’s vision to provide a platform for everyone has blossomed into a vibrant community that extends beyond visual arts, encompassing designers, architects, agriculturalists and ecologists. With its ambitions to break down traditional barriers that have separated the liberal arts, it has firmly established itself as a catalyst for creative and critical dialogue between two regions that have historically been defined by a very different, and much less egalitarian, form of intellectual and labour exchange.

guestartistsspace.com

Yinka Shonibare at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge, Frieze London
Fittingly, for an endeavour that grew out of his artistic practice, Yinka Shonibare’s presentation in the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge at this year’s Frieze London includes a documentary that showcases the development and aims of Guest Artists Space Foundation. The film supplements a diverse array of visual works, including sculptures, masks, quilts and free-standing sculptures.

frieze.com/tags/frieze-london-2023

Share:
Reading time: 7 min
colourful lines in pink and blue
A man sitting on a couch with a mirror and large windows next to him

Sundaram Tagore. Photo by Paul Terrie. Photo courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

Art and culture is part of gallerist Sundaram Tagore’s DNA, coming from one of India’s leading creative families. Here, Tagore speaks to LUX’s Leaders and Philanthropist Editor, Samantha Welsh, about the importance of showcasing underrepresented artists and ensuring creatives are not pigeonholed

LUX: How did your upbringing nurture a fascination for cross-cultural exchange?
Sundaram Tagore: I grew up in a house of art and culture. My father, Suho Tagore, was a painter, poet and writer. He was one of India’s early modernists. He was raised in a family of artists and creative people, including Rabrindranath Tagore, the first non-Westerner to win the Nobel prize for literature. When I was a child, my father was publishing an art magazine, building a museum and organizing exhibitions. We had a constant flow of creative people from all over the world staying in our Calcutta home—artists, writers, and filmmakers. Calcutta, at that time, was a glamorous cosmopolitan city and India’s intellectual capital.

But it goes beyond that. My family has been involved with the idea of cross-cultural exchange going back generations. In the early twentieth century, they built a globally focused university, now known as Visva-Bharati University, outside of Calcutta. They were so committed to the idea, they invested everything—the entire Tagore family fortune, including our ancestral home—to build it.

The school was known for its intensive arts program and an emphasis on returning to nature, with classes often held outside under the trees. By the early 1920’s, there were students coming from every corner of the globe to attend, including notable scholars and artists, including the renowned British painter William Rothenstein. Mahatma Gandhi and disciples were based there for a time.

In 1922, the very first Bauhaus international exhibition, which comprised more than 250 works of European avant-garde art, was brought to Calcutta by my family. The exhibition featured works by Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky and Lionel Ettinger presented alongside work by modern Indian artists.

shades of green paint on a canvas

Susan Weil, Landscape, Image courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

LUX: Where did you start to seed these East-West dialogues?
ST: Again, it goes back to my family, who, over generations, created real cultural dialog. My father, who had studied in England in the 1930s, came back to India and formed one of the first arts collectives in India called the Calcutta Group­—inspired by the Bloomsbury Group. So, those ideas have always been with me, it’s part of my mental DNA. Rabrindranath Tagore advocated for universalism throughout his life. This was the family ethos.

LUX: A former director of Pace Gallery, NY, how did that experience challenge your perception and change your direction?
ST: I saw a very professional world at Pace. It was a highly aestheticized environment with rigorous programming and curatorial values. Those were the things that I carried with me when I opened my own gallery—paying sharp attention to the details.

LUX: What was your thinking behind launching the flagship gallery?
ST: I came into the gallery world from an academic background. I imagined that I might be a museum curator. I was doing dissertation research at Oxford University on Indian Modernism, again, returning to issues of East-West dialogue and intercultural discourse. It was a topic close to my heart, this question of what modernism means to a deep-rooted traditional culture, such as India’s. To be modern, one has to reject tradition, that is the basis of Modernism. And for many tradition-bound cultures, like India or Indonesia, if you give up those traditions, how do you exist? It’s like choosing to be an orphan.

As a student of Indian Modernism, I soon discovered there were few museums that could accommodate me because in those days, there weren’t many positions in my field of expertise. And so, I began working as an advisor for various museums and institutions. Eventually, I decided to create my own gallery, which opened in 2000 in SoHo, New York.

colourful lines in pink and blue

Hiroshi Senju, Waterfall on Colors, 2022. Image courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

The kind of gallery I wanted to visit didn’t exist. At that time, most galleries in New York had a strong Euro-Western focus, representing predominantly men. There were a few galleries representing Indian artists, Russian artists or Chinese artists, but there were no galleries focussing on the global community. I was drawn to artists who synthesized ideas from disparate cultures, drawing from diverse formal traditions and philosophies.

It became my mission to show that some of the best and most meaningful art was being created by artists deeply engaged in cross-cultural explorations. So I assembled a global roster of artists, including Hiroshi Senju, Sohan Qadri, Karen Knorr, Zheng Lu, Susan Weil, Ricardo Mazal and Golnaz Fathi, who crossed cultural and national boundaries. I showed this work alongside important work by overlooked women artists from the New York School, who I always thought deserved more attention and representation. We will be showing an exhibition by Susan Weil (b. 1930, New York), a groundbreaking American artist from the New York School and the first woman I signed to the gallery in 2000 at Cromwell Place in London this October.

This global and inclusive outlook naturally lead to opening international locations, including Beverly Hills, California, in 2007; Hong Kong in 2008; and Singapore in 2012. And just this year, we opened a permanent space in the London arts hub, Cromwell Place.

LUX: What kinds of impact can artists make when you introduce them into cultures where art is under-represented?
ST: Art is always present, everywhere. However, society may not be in a position to appreciate it because of economic or socio-political issues. But people always create. It’s a basic human drive.

Artists challenge us to think differently or see things in new ways. When you bring new or underrepresented artists into a space, they revitalise it, at least creatively.

A room with a couch, table and chairs

Sundaram Tagore’s Apartment with interior styling by Philippa Brathwaite. Photo by Paul Terrie. Photo courtesy Sundaram Tagore Gallery

LUX: How would you say this has changed the art scene over the last couple of decades?
ST: By looking at a work of art, appreciating it ,and having a discourse about it, we expand our minds and take those conversations into our everyday lives.

In the past few decades, the art world has expanded in a very significant way. Interest has expanded beyond the United States and Europe in ways we couldn’t have imagined twenty years ago. There are biennales in some of the remotest corners of the world shining a light on artists who have been underrepresented in the art world. Curators and some galleries are now paying attention to artists they wouldn’t have a decade ago. Some of this has been prompted by politics, and now, increasingly, by economics.

Technology has also expanded the commercial art world. We all have more access to information. This is positive.

LUX: Is there a tendency to typecast artists by region, gender, cause, medium, at the risk of restricting their freedom to explore new avenues, genres to reach their fullest potential?
ST: There is a tendency to typecast artists by identity. Religion, gender, ethnicity are easy categories. In the last few years, there’s been a rush to redress past wrongs in the art world when it comes to race and gender in particular. Museums and galleries don’t always get it right, but they’re trying to represent and champion a broader range of artists and are now expected to do better.

One thing I never worry about is artists being restricted in their freedoms or creativity. Artists are by nature rebellious, contrarian, ground-breakers and rule-breakers. Galleries, museums and collectors may be hung up on typecasting, but not artists.

squares with drawn body parts in black

Susan Weil, Untitled, 2022. Image courtesy of Sundaram Tagore Gallery

LUX: You are known to immerse yourself in your work, engaging fully with geographies and people. How does that approach align with your beliefs?
ST: Because I travel so much and I’ve lived in a dozen different cities across the globe, geographies dissolve and country, culture and ethnicity are almost irrelevant terms to me. I don’t judge people on their nationality, religion or any other identifier. If I connect with a person, I can be at ease in any space in the world.

LUX: Where would you say art conversations are making a significant impact on society?
ST: Many art-related conversations right now are about marginalization and identity. I think that will go on until we address these issues with broader representation. That’s the nature of art, isn’t it? To push the conversation into the foreground.

Increasingly we see how the role of activism in art can have the real-world impact, especially relating to issues of social justice and environmentalism. For example, we represent the world-renowned Brazilian photographer and activist Sebastião Salgado, who has told the stories of millions of dispossessed people around the world. To that end, he and his wife, Lélia Wanick Salgado, have a nonprofit, Instituto Terra, which has been devoted to reforestation and environmental education since the 1990s. Their recent collaboration with Sotheby’s—the largest curated solo exhibition of photography in the auction house’s history—raised more than a million dollars for their foundation.

The Salgados have replanted 2.7 million trees in a region previously covered by the Atlantic forest. It was an infertile and burned land where erosion showed the red veins of the earth; the trees, the smell of the sweet flowers, the song of the birds had disappeared. Their efforts, fueled by sale of Salgado’s work, show the power of art and artists to make a difference.

LUX: How will you continue to challenge and change perceptions?
ST: I’m not interested in controversies, trends or provocation. We have enough of that in other arenas today. I want to use art as a vehicle to bring people together.

Find out more: www.sundaramtagore.com

Share:
Reading time: 8 min
A girl looking at a painting frightened clutching a notepad
portraits of people

Dilara Begum Jolly, Parables of the Womb. Image courtesy of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Barrister A B M Hamidul Mishbah, who specialises in Intellectual Property (Copyright & Visual Art) and Technology Law writes about three historic derivative artworks from the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation’s extensive collection, and provides insight into the complex issues of copyright and ownership in the art world

“I walk, I look, I see, I stop, I photograph” said Leon Levinstein. Every element of an artistic or creative work, be it a photograph or a painting, weaves a tapestry of ingenuity. The pursuit of collecting such artistic or creative works is a testament to the realities we encounter in our lives.

“Parables of the Womb”, acquired and preserved by the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation (DBF), is a series of portraits of Birangonas (War Heroes) of the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. The masterpieces were created by Dilara Begum Jolly, acclaimed artist, painter, and sculptor in Bangladesh. Jolly  rejuvenated original photographs to commemorate the plight experienced by women during the troubled times of the Liberation War.

The artworks consist of reprinted photographs of the Birangonas (War Heroes), adorned with needlework, achieving the status of ‘derivative work.’ Derivative work is a form of creative expression spawned from pre-existing original work that contains substantial transformation in line with the creator’s vision. As a result, it receives the protection of copyright law and allows the creator to control her integrity and commercial interests.

A profile of a woman in lots of different colours

Andy Warhol, Ingrid Bergman, Edition 10/30. Image courtesy of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Andy Warhol, perceived as one of the pioneers of Pop Art, created the artwork “LIZ” in 1963. The “LIZ” series comprises several paintings devised from Elizabeth Taylor‘s publicity photograph for her film ‘Butterfield 8.’ Andy Warhol used a method of silkscreen printing, and the series showcases Warhol’s signature style of vibrant and bold colours blended with contrasting hues to highlight the artist’s fondness for fame, iconic personalities, and celebrity culture.  The series remains a significant part of Warhol’s enduring legacy, speaking to the relationship between art, commerce, and mass media, inspiring the artists and audiences of this age. One of the artworks in the series of derivative works, is another jewel of the DBF’s collection.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Atul Dodiya, one of the most coveted contemporary artists in the Indian subcontinent, rose to prominence in the late ’90s for a series of artworks he created on Mahatma Gandhi. One of the artworks from that series depicts Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose engrossed in a deep conversation, created using a public domain photograph dating back to 1938. The original photograph was captured during a session of the Indian National Congress in Haripura, marking the first resolution after regaining India from the British Raj.

The artistic rendition created by Dodiya is a sepia-washed watercolour painting, immortalising the historic moment that paved the way for India’s liberation and commemorates the significant roles played by the two iconic leaders. The DBF steadfastly preserves this piece.

A girl looking at a painting frightened clutching a notepad

Atul Dodiya, Noakhali, November 1946. Image courtesy of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Original photographs enjoy copyright protection under copyright law. Copyright protection for photographs begins the moment the image is created, i.e., fixed onto the film negative through the camera’s shutter click. The person who captures the photograph is considered the ‘author’ and becomes the first owner of the photograph’s copyright, enjoying exclusive rights, including the right to reproduce (copy, print, download, etc.), the right to communicate to the public, create derivative works, and the right to prevent unauthorised use by third parties.

This means the original photographs, whether portraits of the Birangonas, Taylor’s publicity photograph from the film ‘Butterfield 8,’ or stock images from the 1938 session of the Indian National Congress in Haripura, were standalone works created by independent photographers. These photographers are presumed to be the authors and owners of the copyright in those photographs unless there is covenant to the contrary; the portraits are unequivocally not orphan works.

Maurizio Cattelan
has said: “Culture has been rewritten many times from many different points of view. If we look at history, copying has been the method of disseminating knowledge as much as in the contemporary world: scribes copied books to ensure future generations had the same knowledge and to preserve their culture over the centuries. A few years earlier, the Romans copied Greek sculptures, as today we copy the great classics and see them in souvenir shops. Copying is a concept as old as humanity because it is the presupposition of knowledge tout court.” This philosophy that resonates with Rabindranath Tagore‘s school of thought on ‘moner mukti’ (indulgence of the mind). This is the juncture where the law intersects with creativity and innovation.

Three artworks of tools in the sky

Shilpa Gupta, Unnoticed, 2017. Image courtesy of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Creating derivative works from original photographs is permissible if endorsed by, and without prejudicing the interests of, the original author. Some jurisdictions are accommodating to derivative works created for certain purposes under the principles of ‘fair use,’ without the original author’s permission, taking into account the underlying purpose, nature, extent, and potential impact of the derivative work.

Read more: Syed Muhammad Zakir’s imagined city of Baghreb

By and large, artistic works create bridges that connect our past, present, and future, reminding us of the timeless beauty and relevance of human creativity. Artistic works such as “Parables of the Womb”, the “LIZ” series, and Dodiya’s paintings have the innate ability to evoke emotions, resonate the connection between art and human experience, and ignite the passion for collecting and celebrating art.

Two women, one holding a child in a dark room wearing large green glasses

Firoz Mahmud, part of a photograph series, ‘Soaked Dream’. Image courtesy of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

The interplay between copyright protection for photographs, derivative works, and digital artistic assets has become remarkably intense in the age of NFTs, which consistently push the boundaries. NFTs have revolutionised the concept of ownership and the domain of collecting and preserving art. Owning an NFT and owning a copyright are not the same. Copyright law does not confer any rights to the NFT owner, but the NFT owner may use ownership to exert substantial control over an NFT. This control is not automatic; two separate rights come into play here—the right to own a single copy of the artistic work, and the right to make copies and generate derivative works from the original work. NFT technology enables broader access to innovative creations. Collectors of artistic works can now play a transformative role and foster a dynamic ecosystem that blends artistry and commerce in ways never seen before, while the tokenisation of artworks into NFTs opens new streams for generating revenue.

Nonetheless,  collectors remain custodians of history. It’s not the financial gain but the narratives woven by the creators that motivate most collectors. They dedicate themselves to safeguarding artworks as a testament to the evolving journey of humanity. Each piece of artistic work encapsulates a moment frozen in time. With every piece of work, artists breathe life into their visions, and collectors, in turn, take on the responsibility to ensure that these visions endure for generations.

A family with children wearing large green glasses in a dark room

Firoz Mahmud’s photograph series, ‘Soaked Dream’, is a project about performative refugee, displaced and migrant families, being progressed between 2015-2021. Image courtesy of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

The acquisition and conservation of artistic creations like “Parables of the Womb”, the “LIZ” series, or Dodiya’s watercolour paintings by a collector passes down our narratives to the generations to come.

This article was published in association with the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Share:
Reading time: 6 min
A woman wearing a white and blue dress sitting on a blue and white sofa
A woman wearing a white and blue dress sitting on a blue and white sofa

Hilary Weston, at home in Windsor

As co-founder of Windsor, a private residential community along Florida’s Treasure Coast, Hilary Weston is also Creative Director of The Gallery at Windsor. The serial philanthropist and scion of the retail family talks to LUX’s Candice Tucker about contemporary art, community, creatives – and why she pays no attention to the art market

LUX: What do you hope to achieve in art?
Hilary Weston: Art has been part of the fabric of Windsor since the community’s early days [Weston founded Windsor with her husband Galen, who died in 2021]. Over the years, The Gallery at Windsor has developed a reputation for staging exhibitions that present the very best of contemporary art. This latest exhibition by Sir Tony Cragg continues our desire to present the talents of some of the most important contemporary artists of our time.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: How is the art-collecting community growing in Windsor?
HW: The Gallery at Windsor is at the heart of Windsor’s Cultural Art Programme, which encourages all Windsor members to participate in the arts, whether it be contemporary art in the gallery, performing arts, film or literature. I hope the success of the gallery has contributed to the culture of collecting at Windsor. Many pieces from the gallery’s exhibition series have remained at Windsor in our members’ homes. We are just over a two-hour drive north of Miami – a global capital for contemporary art, and the energy of Miami can be felt in Windsor, especially around Art Basel Miami Beach.

A wooden sculpture and a red sculpture on podiums next to eachother

The Gallery at Windsor was founded in 2002, as an independent art space

LUX: How did you create your art initiative?
HW: We staged our first exhibition in March 2002. It was a photography show called “The Beach”, curated by Bettina von Hase. It explored the relationship between beach and society through the eyes of a range of artists including Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Robert Capa, David Hockney and John Baldessari. Over the years we have shown Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Ed Ruscha, Bruce Weber, Peter Doig, Alex Katz, Per Kirkeby and Christopher Le Brun. In 2011, the gallery began a three-year collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery to realise exhibitions by Beatriz Milhazes, Gert and Uwe Tobias and Jasper Johns. I was particularly proud of our three-year collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts, from 2018 to 2020. We showed Grayson Perry, Sir Michael Craig-Martin and the wonderful Rose Wylie. The sight of Grayson in his fabulous outfits electrified the community. He brought his family and they stayed a week. Everyone had such fun getting to know them.

LUX: How involved is your family in Windsor?
HW: While I am the Creative Director of The Gallery at Windsor, it was my daughter Alannah who founded it in 2002. I admire her creativity hugely. When a growing family and business commitments began to take up more of her time, I took over the reins of the gallery. As Principal of Windsor, Alannah is leading the final phase of its development – a 47-acre swath of land adjacent to the country’s first protected wildlife preserve and the banks of the Indian River Lagoon. The North Village will include 40 residences, wellness amenities, a heightened attention to sustainability and an outdoor art programme.

A group of people standing together, one in a bright pink dress and another in bright green

Christopher Le Brun, Grayson Perry, Hilary Weston, Tim Marlow, Philippa Perry and Galen Weston, in front of Grayson Perry’s Comfort Blanket, at The Gallery at Windsor, 2018

LUX: Name five people you think are having the greatest impact on the art world right now.
HW: There are so many wonderful people creating art and leading the art world. Working with two world-renowned art institutions, the RA and Whitechapel Gallery, and art-world leaders such as Sir Christopher Le Brun and Iwona Blazwick has enabled us to welcome incredible artists, some in the earlier stages of their career, such as Ed Ruscha and Beatriz Milhazes, who went on to enjoy amazing success.

LUX: What effect do you think bringing major artists to Windsor has on the community?
HW: We believe culture is a crucial part of the spirit of a community, so it is natural that art and artists have been part of the ethos of Windsor. The gallery extends past our gates to the local Vero Beach community. We open for public docent-led tours two days a week. The tours are complementary and we accept donations for our charitable foundation that supports local arts education. We have strong ties with the area’s arts organisations and hold an ongoing roster of collaborative cultural events with them. We are proud and privileged to be able to introduce an artist of Sir Tony’s calibre to our membership and the community at large.

A sculpture beside red paintings

Part of Windsor’s fine arts programming has included collaborations with organisations such as the Whitechapel Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts in London

LUX: Which new artists do you admire now?
HW: There will always be brilliant artists at any age who are under-recognised and then something just happens. The gallery here is known for showing some of the art world’s greats, but we aim to celebrate artists at whatever point of their careers. In the past few years, I have become acquainted with a young Irish abstract painter named Jack Coulter. His layered works are inspired by music. I visited his exhibition at Sotheby’s this past fall and a piece inspired by an album by the Anglo-Irish punk band The Pogues caught my eye. I think Jack is someone to watch.

LUX: The art-market peak has been called many times over the past ten years. Will it peak?
HW: I don’t follow the art market too closely. Markets go up and go down. I believe art is important to our lives and the market will do what it does.

LUX: What differences have you noticed in the new generation of collectors?
HW: My feeling is they are open to a more diverse range of practices. There are some interesting things being done in digital and performance art. It’s an area we’d like to explore more.

A beige statue on grass with palm trees around it

Views from The Gallery at Windsor’s major 2023 exhibition, “Tony Cragg: Sculptures and Works on Paper”

LUX: What’s next for art at Windsor?
HW: As a new generation joins the community, my hope is that art continues to be an important part of life at Windsor. We have many members who found Windsor through its art programme. With our planned outdoor art island, it is exciting to wonder what is in store for the future here.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf: The best art shows this season

LUX: Where will the next US art hot spot be?
HW: Toronto is not in the US, but it is one base of the Weston family, and I’m proud and impressed by its metropolitan and welcoming outlook. With the success of the Toronto International Film Festival and new art fairs, it is an art hot spot that should not be overlooked.

LUX: What would you change in the art world?
HW: Wouldn’t it be wonderful for the focus of discussions to return to art and artists, rather than market and prices?

Find out more: windsorflorida.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 6 min
A messy bar that says 'Roth Bar' on it
A messy bar that says 'Roth Bar' on it

“Roth Bar” Hauser & Wirth St Moritz, 2022-2023, by Björn, Oddur and Einar Roth

As Vice President of Artnet, LUX Contributing Editor Sophie Neuendorf has a unique view of upcoming events in the art world. Here is her pick of seven shows to visit this season
A blonde woman wearing a brown jacket with her hand together

Sophie Neuendorf

“Roth Bar”, Hauser & Wirth, St Moritz 
This is a fully working bar designed by Björn, Oddur and Einar Roth, son and grandsons of Dieter Roth, who first ideated the bar in the 1980s. Presented alongside a rare self portrait by Dieter Roth, this Alpine gallery iteration is a dynamic and ever-changing installation and an example of the Roths’ cross-generational practice. This exhibition uses the gallery’s ground-floor space as a hub for music, talks, readings and simply getting together.

Until 9 September 2023; hauserwirth.com

“After the Mediterranean”, Hauser & Wirth, Menorca
This profound exhibition is curated by Oriol Fontdevila. It features seven artists whose works address the human and ecological challenges affecting the Mediterranean region, as well as the human capacity to solve them.

A woman running on an open path wearing a red jacket and purple bottoms

Excerpt from The Dido Problem, 2021, by Huniti Goldox

An island in the sea with a house built on it

Hauser & Wirth Menorca, Illa del Rei

Until 29 October 2023; hauserwirth.com

“Basquiat x Warhol. Painting Four Hands”, Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris 
Not only is this an incredible space (designed by starchitect Frank Gehry), the exhibition promises to be one of the most notable of 2023, with the dynamic duo having created more than 160 artworks together. Also featured will be individual works, and pieces by major figures such as Jenny Holzer and Kenny Scharf, to evoke the energy of New York’s downtown art scene in the 1980s.

A drawing of two men's faces with crazy hair, one in a blue background and one on a yellow background

Dos Cabezas, 1982, by Jean-Michel Basquiat

A warped shaped glass building with a pool in front of it

Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris

Until 28 August 2023; fondationlouisvuitton.fr

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

“Georgia O’Keefe: To See Takes Time”, MoMa, New York 
Following the Thyssen-Bornemisza’s survey in 2021, this exhibition explores a different side to the groundbreaking modernist. O’Keeffe is known for her unique paintings of desert flowers and cow skulls, but MoMA focuses on abstract works on paper made with watercolour, pastel, charcoal and graphite, with associated paintings shown alongside.

A red and yellow circle painted above a green and blue line on paper

Evening Star No III, 1917, by Georgia O’Keeffe

A building with a white exterior entrance

Museum of Modern Art, New York

Until 12 August 2023; moma.org

“Keith Haring: Art is for Everybody”, The Broad, Los Angeles 
Astonishingly, Haring has never been given a museum show in the City of Angels. Inspired by Haring’s personal journals, the exhibition will highlight his engagement with social issues, such as nuclear disarmament, capitalism, apartheid and the AIDS crisis. There will also be interactive elements, such as a gallery infused with the sounds of one of Haring’s own playlists.

A red and black painting of doodles

Red Room, 1988, by Keith Haring

A triangle shaped white building on a busy road

The Broad, LA

Until 8 October 2023; thebroad.org

“Marina Abramović”, Royal Academy of Arts, London
I am a huge fan of Marina Abramović, so I’m thrilled she is getting a major retrospective at the RA in London this autumn. One of a number of artists, including Vito Acconci and Chris Burden, who experimented with using the body as a medium in the 1970s, Abramović pushes physical and mental boundaries to explore themes of emotional and spiritual transfiguration. The show includes physical performances of iconic works.

A woman with her hair back wearing a white shirt

Portrait of Marina Abramović

An old style building with a Union Jack flag flying on the top of it

Burlington House, Royal Academy of Arts, London

23 September-10 December 2023; royalacademy.org.uk

“Women Masters, Old and Modern”, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Nacional, Madrid
From this autumn, the Thyssen-Bornemisza shines a spotlight on ten women artists across four centuries, including Artemisia Gentileschi, Mary Cassatt and Sonia Delaunay. Curated from a feminist perspective, the show focuses on groups of artists and gallerists who shared values and socio-cultural conditions and were able, despite the patriarchy, to establish alternative gazes.

Read more: Patrick Sun on LGBTQ artists in Asia

An old painting of a woman wearing a red dress showing her leg

Portia Wounding Her Thigh, 1664, by Elisabetta Sirani

A building with a large tree on the side of it

Thyssen-Bornemisza Museo Nacional, Madrid

31 October 2023-4 February 2024; museothyssen.org

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
A man in a suit looking at an artwork on the wall
A man in a suit looking at an artwork on the wall

Patrick Sun at the exhibition “Myth Makers – Spectrosynthesis III”, JC Contemporary, Tai Kwun, Hong Kong

One of Asia’s bravest, most significant and most understated art philanthropists, Patrick Sun speaks to LUX about the challenges LGBTQ artists face in Asia, and who he is collecting

Patrick Sun has a light touch. When we bump into him at an art event in Singapore, he chats joshingly with some of the other collectors and exchanges thoughts on which parties to attend, or avoid. But his mission is anything but light.

A Hong Kong native, educated in Canada, Sun made his fortune in property development in his home territory, all the while turning his attention to philanthropy with a purpose. His Sunpride Foundation supports LGBTQ artists and art in a region where they have traditionally been sidelined or suppressed.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Sunpride has supported and co-hosted a series of shows entitled “Spectrosynthesis”, which started as the first LGBTQ themed exhibition staged in an art museum in Asia. Sun collects art from Asian artists with an aim to support LGBTQ creators. Beneath the light touch is a serious purpose, and an awareness of the suffering many LGBTQ artists face, particularly in more conservative Asian cultures.

A painting of two men with a white flower on one's face and a pink flower on the other's

Hollyhock and Pure Daisies, 2020, by Yue Minjun

Sun chatted with us after our meeting in Singapore. He has raised a great deal of awareness in a short space of time, but there is a long way to go in a continent where homosexuality is illegal in several countries, and has a cultural stigma in others.

LUX: What recent acquisitions are you most excited by, and why?
Patrick Sun: I can think of two that are each significant in their own way. First, Yue Minjun’s Hollyhock and Pure Daisies: a portrait of gay icon Leslie Cheung and his partner, which features two flowers that are not supposed to bloom in the same season, representing the love between a couple who are not “meant” to be together. Second is Visitors by Bhupen Khakhar. We have always wanted to collect Bhupen Khakhar‘s paintings, but since his retrospective at Tate Modern in 2016, good works are rare to come by and prices have skyrocketed, often reaching several times the high estimate at auctions.

A woman wearing a gold dress and crown standing with two other people

Artist Ming Wong, Patrick Sun and artist Korakrit Arunanondchai at the “Spectrosynthesis II” opening party, Bangkok, 2019

When we saw Visitors, a beautiful painting that was to be auctioned in London, we asked for a private viewing and got to meet a Sotheby’s expert, Ishrat, who is passionate about Khakhar’s work. The painting shows the artist lying on his deathbed, revisited by spirits of past friends and lovers. Ishrat shared how Bhupen didn’t paint any explicit scenes concerning his sexuality until his mother passed away. She got emotional as she related the story and it also brought tears to my eyes, because it dawned on me that the year my mother died was the year I started Sunpride. Ishrat and I cried on each other’s shoulders and did the utmost to help us procure the work, concluding the purchase just hours before it was supposed to go under the hammer.

A painting people in a box

Visitors, 1998, by Bhupen Khakhar

LUX: Do you only collect works by LGBTQ artists?
PS: As illustrated by the Yue Minjun work, the answer is no. We also collect works by straight artists that explore a queer theme. It is important to have such representation, so that nobody needs to be labelled or “outed” through their participation in our collection or exhibitions.

A man in a pink jumper sitting down speaking to someone wearing a blue jumper and grey gilet

Patrick Sun with collector Rudy Tseng

LUX: Is real progress being made on LGBTQ affairs in Asia?
PS: Progress often comes in ebbs and flows. On the whole, I see more progress than regress towards the queer community. Take Hong Kong as an example: on issues such as spousal visas, taxation and housing benefits, there has been some advancement in the right direction. Just in February 2023, transgender people scored a victory in gender status on identification documents. I remain optimistic things will change for the better.

a person walking in an art gallery

Installation at “Spectrosynthesis II”, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre 7/F, BACC, 2019

LUX: Do artists of all types have more freedom and creativity than a few years back?
PS: I am not in a position to answer for all artists, but for queer artists in Hong Kong I believe the answer is affirmative. In recent years, we have had more LGBTQ themed exhibitions, both in public and private spaces. We have also seen more presentation of such works in art fairs and galleries.

Two people speaking to each other by a wall with a picture of a beach and paintings on top of it

Sun with artist Yuki Kihara at Kihara’s installation, Paradise Camp, New Zealand Pavillion, 59th Venice Biennale, 2022

LUX: What are the most exciting places in Asia for art?
PS: I think Hong Kong and Tokyo are two very exciting cities to focus on. Art Basel returned to Hong Kong in full force in March 2023, and the excitement was palpable and invigorating. I also have very good feelings about Tokyo when it comes to queer art: the sentiments are ripening for a more diverse and inclusive society, and a new art fair will take place in July 2023.

colourful embroidery and bowls laid on the floor

Installation view featuring Conundrum Ka Sorga (To Heaven), 2019, by Anne Samat, at “Myth Makers – Spectrosynthesis III”, JC Contemporary, Tai Kwun, Hong Kong, 2022

LUX: Singapore is getting a creative glow, but will it catch up with Hong Kong for art?
PS: I have never felt there is a need to pitch one city against the other. If there is competition I believe it would be a healthy one. The market in Asia is certainly big enough to accommodate two or more art hubs.

A man in a blue jacket speaking to a man in a brown jacket

Patrick Sun with collector Disaphol Chansiri

LUX: Are you pessimistic or optimistic about the future of creativity in Asia?
PS: I am by nature an optimist, and I believe that a positive attitude helps attract the right energy, especially creative energy.

LUX: What are the most interesting advances in digital art?
PS: Interactive installations and generative creations are two developments I find most interesting. Both use technology to reach beyond capabilities of the human mind.

A man wearing a red and white turban in a dessert

Patrick Sun

LUX: Will AI kill art?
PS: I see AI as a way for humans to explore new horizons and perspectives. It is a collaboration between human and machines rather than a rivalry. I believe AI can enhance our artistic culture and diversity instead of diminishing it.

LUX: How have events in the past couple of years affected your mission?
PS: Our mission remains unchanged since the foundation’s establishment in 2014, but Covid has inevitably affected some plans. Our most recent exhibition, “Myth makers – Spectrosynthesis III”, at Tai Kwun, Hong Kong, was meant to be held concurrently with Gay Games in Hong Kong, originally planned for 2022. We were aiming for synergy between arts and sports to enhance acceptance for the LGBTQ community.

blue screens with people in a black room

Passion, 2017, by Jun-Jieh Wang, at “Spectrosynthesis”, MOCA Taipei, 2017

Gay Games postponed its event due to the pandemic, but we decided to stay put. With Covid-related curbs, it was also difficult for our curatorial team to reach out to overseas artists to commission works and to get them to fly here for installations.

Read more: Art Dubai opens in support of South Asian artists

However, staging the exhibition in Hong Kong, where our curators and myself are based, helped to minimise the impact of this issue. There was actually a sliver lining, because we benefitted in having a broader local representation; more than one-third of the artworks presented in “Myth Makers” were created by artists based in Hong Kong.

Find out more: sunpride.hk

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 6 min
A painting of a devil with red, green and black paint dripping on the canvas
A painting of a devil with red, green and black paint dripping on the canvas

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Untitled (Devil), 1982. Private Collection; © 2023 Phillips Auctioneers LLC, all rights reserved; © Estate of Jean-Michel
Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York

Eight monumental works created by Jean-Michel Basquiat when he was 21 years old are brought together for the first time in an exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler, institutional partner of Swiss luxury watch brand Richard Mille. By Darius Sanai

What is it about Jean-Michel Basquiat that continues to captivate, 35 years after his death in the summer of 1988 at the age of 27? His art, for sure. Although he wasn’t quite the global superstar he would become after his death, his art was recognised at the time as being original, monumental, complex, important.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Then there are the societal and political themes. Born to a Haitian father and a mother born to Puerto Rican parents, Basquiat was, and arguably remains, the only black artist to have achieved global superstardom. The representations of racial oppression in his works came less than 20 years after segregation – a form of apartheid – was formally abolished in the US.

A painted black canvas with bits of blue and a devil with his hands in the air wearing red

Jean-Michael Basquiat, Profit 1, 1982. Private Collection, Switzerland © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo by Robert Bayer

And then there is the social context. Although many of the themes in his work are deadly serious, Basquiat was a pioneer and a high-flier in perhaps the most exciting art scene that has ever existed in the western world, that of New York during the birth of hip- hop, punk, new wave and rap. He was friends with Andy Warhol, sold his first painting to Debbie Harry (for $200) and made music with some of the biggest names in the emerging hip-hop scene. Basquiat was friends with Afrika Bambaataa and Grandmaster Flash, as well as a punk-art crowd at the Mudd Club and CBGB. He also had a good fortune, or misfortune, to shoot to fame during one of the art world’s biggest booms, which subsequently went bust not long after his death of a death heroin overdose.

The 1980s are, in many ways, when the contemporary era began, and Basquiat, and graffiti poet, musician and multimedia artist, was a fresh symbol of the era, both in his works and his vivid social life, making Warhol at the time seem old and outdates to many. There is also the fact that Basquiat was making art in parts of New York that were run down to the point of abandonment – this is a city that declared bankruptcy in the 1970s – and which are now the site of the homes of wealthy art collectors, who may have been children when Basquiat’s legend was being established.

A yellow and blue painted canvas with a black painted woman and a body on the side

Jean-Michael Basquiat, Untitled (Woman with Roman Torso [Venus]), 1982. Private Collection © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo by Robert Bayer

Basquiat’s life itself seems to be out of a fictional movie so cruel it could not be made. Inspired in art and poetry by his moth, who subsequently disappeared into a universe of insanity; a poet writing on walls with a sharpness of words and perceptiveness that could shock society; a socialite and charmer so handsome he was asked to work as a catwalk model and who counted himself as Madonna‘s first boyfriend; an artist of such originality and brilliance that his work s have grown with time; and a young man with countless pressures pressing down on him who died of a drug overdose in new York’s 1980s peak.

Ultimately, it’s all about the art, as this monumental exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland, demonstrates. “Basquiat: The Modena Paintings” showcases eight huge canvases, all over two metres by four metres, created by the artist when he was invited to create works in the Italian city in 1982, at the age of 21. Already a celebrated name on the contemporary art scene, Basquiat was invited to Modena by the Italian gallerist Emilio Mazzoli, who provided Basquiat with a warehouse space to create work for an intended solo exhibition. It was not a happy time for Basquiat, who later commentated, “They set it up for me so I’d have to make eight paintings in a week”, adding that working in the warehouse made him feel like he was in a “sick factory”. He made eight paintings, before a disagreement between the artist’s representative and Mazzoli led to the cancellation of the exhibition. The gallerist paid Basquiat for his work and he returned home.

A painting of a stick man with a body and top hat in black on a pink and blue painted canvas

Jean-Michel Basquiat, The Guilt of Gold Teeth, 1982. Nahmad Collection © Estate of Jean-Michel Basquiat. Licensed by Artestar, New York. Photo by Annik Wetter

It took time for the eight works to find homes – astonishingly, in retrospect, as they are now considered some of his greatest works, perhaps his greatest. The exhibition at the Beyeler was the first time they have ever been reunited and shown in one place, and the location is highly apposite. In 1983, a year after his unhappy trip to Modena, Basquiat was invited by Ernst Beyeler to take part in the exhibition “Expressive Painting after Picasso” at his gallery in Basel – a Basquiat work was on the cover of the exhibition catalogue. Years later, in 2010, the Fondation Beyeler, of which luxury Swiss watch brand Richard Mille is an institutional partner, held the first major museum Basquiat retrospective.

Read more: The Richard Mille Art Prize with Louvre Abu Dhabi

We can only imagine what Basquiat – who would be in his sixties now – would have produced had his life not come to such an early end; what contributions he would have made not just to the art world, but to the broader world of the arts – to poetry and to society as a whole, as perhaps the first celebrity contemporary artist. But in these canvases in Basel, his power and brilliance are compelling.

Find out more: fondationbeyeler.ch

Share:
Reading time: 4 min
two men standing next to a woman wearing a red dress
two men standing next to a woman wearing a red dress

Left to right: Philanthropist Durjoy Rahman with collector Maria Sukkar and LUX Editor in Chief, Darius Sanai

In the fourth of our series of online dialogues, Maria Sukkar, one of the most significant collectors in the UK and Co-Chair of the Tate Middle East North Africa Acquisitions Committee, speaks with philanthropist Durjoy Rahman, moderated by LUX Editor in Chief Darius Sanai. Their wide-ranging conversation covers the need to support artists from your place of origin, the western eye, and the emergence of new art powerhouses, among much else

LUX: Durjoy, you are from Bangladesh and Maria, you are from the Lebanon. Is it important to you to collect art and to support artists from your home countries?

Durjoy Rahman: I’m based in Bangladesh, but with collecting I extend to a broader South Asian perspective. We were an undivided subcontinent before partition in 1947, and to understand the development of art in the region, we must understand that context. My collections also include the diaspora of South Asian artists in Europe and the Americas, and artists from other regions whose practice have relevance to South Asian practices. Bangladesh has a long history of art but, because of colonialism – Bangladesh did not become independent till 1971 – much of our culture was lost. I recommend that collectors from this region start their art and philanthropic activities here, to restore lost heritage and give future generations evidence of our identities and history.

A painting of lots of people huddled together

Festival by Shahabuddin Ahmed a Bangladeshi painter whose works are part of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation’s Collection

Maria Sukkar: I agree. I also think you gravitate towards artwork from your region because it tells your story, and it helps define who you are. I started collecting on a small scale with my husband when we were married 25 years ago, but when we moved to London it snowballed, and we collected art from everywhere. Maybe my relationship with Middle Eastern art intensified because it reminded me of things I love about my roots. I believe collecting art from the region one comes from adds a beautiful layer to your life.

LUX: Is there a dialogue between South Asia and the Middle East in terms of art?

DR: I believe so. The Sharjah Art Foundation in the UAE did a Pop Art exhibition last year, “Pop South Asia”, and the curator included work from my collection because it represents the development of Bangladesh art specifically, but also relates to the South Asian stream, going beyond to MENA and on to the European school. We collaborated with Art Dubai this year, and one of the curatorial topics was food politics and identity. We featured the South Asian famines of 1944-45, and how the colonial powers orchestrated them.

MS: From my experience in the Gulf, Dubai, UAE and now in Saudi Arabia visiting the Islamic Arts Biennale, there has been a huge effort to showcase different talents and disciplines, and there are fewer and fewer taboos. What you see is impressive and sometimes daring. They are mixing media and there is a lot of photography and textiles, and very impressive installations.

A black and white photograph of a woman in a shirt and black skirt next to lots of small photographs on a gallery wall

Maria Sukkar’s ISelf Collection displayed at the Whitechapel Gallery, London, showed many works from Akram Zaatari’s The End of Love series

LUX: What’s the best way for influential collectors, like yourselves, to support artists today?

MS: First, collecting an artist’s work opens doors for others to see them, and displaying works at your home with work by artists from other regions means people see the works in a different light. Secondly, if you can bring an artist to an overseas residency, they can do research, meet new people, visit new institutions and museums and return home feeling culturally enriched, ready to explore other avenues and create great work. Thirdly, you can sponsor shows abroad, both financially and by organising events around them. A fourth idea is to host events for visiting artists. When I know a Lebanese artist is coming to town, I open my home. Finally, if an artist is representing your country at a biennale, support them. It’s a great way to show your country exists. Putting a pavilion together costs a lot of money, so supporting the artist elevates them and makes some noise, enabling people to learn about your country and your artists.

DR: I would just add to support emerging curators as well as artists. And one important addition to the art ecosystem would be to support publications, so curators are aware of developments and practices of artists in the region. Publications will remain as archival facts, which are very much missing in South Asia – and much needed.

gold pillar with faces on it

An Eye for an Eye, 2008 by Ayman Baalbaki, ISelf Collection

LUX: Is the art world still judged via the lens of the Western eye, or are artists being validated via another lens that doesn’t require Western perspectives?

DR: I call it the ‘Western gaze’. The Western art ecosystem has developed very structurally, it is very professional in exhibiting and documenting what it has, and Western art education is very forward-thinking. So, the West has had the liberty to look at the South Asian ecosystem however it wanted to, and it has been West looking at East. But this has been changing in the past decade with so many developments in these regions – the Biennales, Desert X, museums and major art fairs. These activities are important catalysts to changing the Western gaze and shifting things so that the East also looks at the West. The West is also sometimes dependent on what is happening in the Eastern art market.

MS: In recent years, with the mushrooming of art fairs and the changing communication between countries and organisations, the Western gaze has subsided. If you walk, for example, through the Tate display rooms, you see the artwork is grouped thematically, not chronologically or by country, so you see artists from different countries side by side. So, I personally do not see that sort of Western look at Eastern art.

A painting of the bank of a man hunched over wearing red trousers and a white top

Untitled, 1994 by Hassan Jouni, ISelf Collection

LUX: Is there a barrier to people becoming artists in MENA and South Asian countries? Is there a taboo, that you need to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer?

DR: When you become a professional, you know you have a career path that will give you a living. Being an artist is tough, a lottery. Even in Europe, an art career was traditionally supported by the wealthy, such as the Medicis, because they knew artists needed support. So an art career was challenging a thousand years ago and it is challenging now. Maybe it’s more challenging, because today you have a lot of eyes looking at you from different perspectives – a contemporary perspective, a social perspective, an activist’s perspective. I think it is more of a difficult life than a taboo or social restriction.

MS: Being Lebanese, I think people of my generation would have found it difficult to choose a career in art. You had to pick a profession that would put food on the table. And I agree, Durjoy, sometimes it’s a lottery, sometimes you cannot find your niche. There’s a lot of competition and you can spend your life not making it. But I feel there are more opportunities for our children to be successful artists today. The question is, do we let our children follow their passion, or do we still dictate what they should do?

A painting of a blurred figure

Gandhi-IV by Shahabuddin Ahmed. Part of the Durjoy Bangladesh Collection

LUX: Many women drive the art world in the West, but the societies we are discussing are often patriarchal. Has that been detrimental to artistic development?

MS: I think patriarchal societies have left so many interesting women artists in the dark for such a long time. But hasn’t this been the case at the West as well? Look at amazing women like Louise Bourgeois, who had retrospectives in their late years. I noticed the power of women in Saudi, where they are incredible – a force – and one has no idea until one visits. If you look at the directors of many major UK institutions now – Tate, Whitechapel, Nottingham Contemporary – they’re women. Then there is the book by Katy Hessel, The Story of Art Without Men. So the tide is turning, but it will take time because change takes time.

DR: The South Asian art ecosystem is very much influenced by female curators, gallerists and collectors. If you name the top curators from South Asia, more than 60 per cent are female. There is a South Asia male dominance but, in terms of creative matters, if you have talent, if you have the energy, nobody can stop you. And I think women are ahead in our part of the region in art-related philanthropy.

A painting of a tree

Cedar, 2009 by Nabil Nahas, ISelf Collection

LUX: In the 1990s, there was much less global awareness about these regions artistically, and that has changed beyond recognition. What will these regions will be like in the next 30 years?

DR: Today, you could say the European art hubs are Paris and London; in America, New York and LA. In the future, I don’t think there will be major hubs, because so many things will happen across the globe. We will be more diverse, and there will be developments in technology and in the transmission of information. So, I think there will be a global platform in 30 years, not a specific centre like the Gulf, or South Asia or Europe. You will be a player in a global arena without regional or continental divides.

MS: I think what’s helping this is the curiosity the West has towards the East. Don’t forget these countries were very private for many reasons. Art from Asia and the Middle East was not always something you would see on museum walls in the West, but this exchange and curiosity is allowing people to visit, to come back with things, to unify countries. I think we’re on the way.

Find out more:

durjoybangladesh.org

www.tate.org.uk/acquisitions

Share:
Reading time: 8 min
A woman with her arms folded wearing a white and blue dress
A woman with her arms folded wearing a white and blue dress

Sana Rezwan at Barwara Kothi, Jaipur

Sana Rezwan is a thoroughly modern entrepreneur and philanthropist, living and working in London, then New York, before recently moving back to her native India. Now she is upping the ante with ambitious plans to raise the profile of South Asian art around the world. Reaching for the sky is in her blood, she explains to LUX

LUX: Is there a new awareness of South Asian art?
Sana Rezwan: Yes, it is an exciting time. There have been many calls for the art world to be more inclusive in recent years, and there is now an openness to new voices. This wasn’t the case a few years ago. Museums and collectors are finally open to ideas from South Asian artists.

LUX: What is your focus as a collector?
SR: One focus is on South Asian female artists who have been overlooked by the market, or written off by institutions and galleries. Having spent the past year in India, I have met so many female artists whose work I feel needs global recognition. There is a chance now to open the barriers to let such artists come to light.

LUX: Which artists are interesting you today?
SR: I am passionate about the late Zarina. She used printmaking mediums, such as silkscreen and woodblock, and made print series around concepts such as displacement. I love Bharti Kher’s use of found objects to convey her position as an artist between milieus. I admire Rana Begum for her use of repetitive geometric patterns, inspired by minimalism and her memories of daily recitals of the Qur’an.

A group of people standing in a gold room

A private-collection visit for The Cultivist with Krishna Choudhary of Royal Gems and Arts, Jaipur

LUX: Can South Asia be seen as one region?
SR: We use the term broadly to designate a category, but there is a multiplicity of cultures, religions and traditions within South Asian art, which makes the art you encounter so exciting.

LUX: Why did you move back to India?
SR: I believe India is where I can best engage with and promote the work of South Asian artists to the world. In 2022, I set up Public Arts Trust of India (PATI) to commission art in global collaboration with galleries, institutions and museums, to be shown in public spaces in India.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What role can philanthropy play?
SR: It can offer ways to extend the reach of the arts. Through philanthropy, we intend to build discourse around urban spaces and heritage structures as sites for engagement through art to inspire reflection and a sense of community. This extends to sustaining cultural conversations globally through supporting residencies, commissions and trans-disciplinary practices.

paintbrushes, paint and art on a table

Artist Tanya Goel’s New Delhi studio

LUX: Is interest from global collectors rising?
SR: Yes, in India we are seeing a great number of international collectors visiting India each year, and the intent of my project is to keep them coming. We will also host encounters in London, Paris and New York to promote cultural exchange and generate awareness. Through my agency The Art Lab, I put together a programme for 14 members of global arts club The Cultivist for a trip to Jaipur and Delhi. We looked at craft, jewellery, design, we went to art fairs and made visits to studios and private collectors. It was very successful. About 75 per cent of collectors bought and started collecting through the trip. It inspired them to explore art from the region.

LUX: What are the challenges for philanthropists in India?
SR: One is to bridge a gap that is not currently served by the government in supporting art. They also have the challenge of building platforms to ngage the public in art, and of finding solutions for generating income for arts organisations to create meaningful jobs in the art world.

LUX: What have you learnt as a collector?
SR: I finally found my calling by moving back to India. My experiences in London and New York have made me well positioned to work as an ambassador for the Indian scene. My goal is to create appreciation for art, support for the local art market and invest in art education.

A woman wearing a pair of black trousers and a purple top

Yulia Dultsina at the residence of Akanksha and Tarang Arora of Amrapali, Jaipur

LUX: Which two living artists would you invite to dinner, and which two of the past?
SR: Shilpa Gupta and Ishita Chakraborty – to learn about their research and practice. From the past, Swedish artist Hilma af Klint, whose work is spiritual and profound, and Zarina.

LUX: Your advice to unknown female artists?
SR: Keep creating. Plans are under way to generate platforms for your work to be seen and appreciated by the global art community.

Read more: Sam Dalrymple and Durjoy Rahman On Cultural Reconnections Post-Partition

LUX: Will South Asian cultures come to see being an artist as a respectable way of life?
SR: For centuries, South Asia has had a history of nurturing creative talent, craftsmanship and artistic sensibility. It is now our responsibility to show today’s artists’ work to the world and have them be considered seriously.

Find out more:
publicartstrustofindia.org
theartlab.studio

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 4 min
A group of men and women standing together for a photograph
A group of men and women standing together for a photograph

Dia Anitska, Daniela de Jesus Cosio, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, Ali Jassim, Jak Bueno and guest

A glamorous art-fashion crowd gathered in Berkeley Square, London, for a preview of Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s “Age of Energy” solo show. The selling exhibition from the French-Iranian artist was curated by Kamiar Maleki, and supported by German gallerist Samandar Setareh and LUX

A blonde woman in a pink dress standing next to a man a black suit and tie with a white shirt

Natalie and Zafar Rushdie

a man wearing a purple tie dye jumper, blue jeans and orange trainers standing between two men in dark suits

Darius Sanai, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Kamiar Maleki

A man wearing a yellow and black striped coord standing next to a woman wearing a black hat, jacket and jeans with a grey striped top

Nettie Wakefield and Owen McGinnity

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

A woman wearing a floral skirt standing next to a man wearing a purple jumper and orange trainers next a woman and man wearing brown and pink clothes

Cheyenne Westphal, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, Katy Wickremesinghe and Stephen Webster

Two women posing for a photo holding a dog

Sabine Roemer and Bettina Bahlsen

a man wearing a purple tie dye jumper, blue jeans and orange trainers standing next to a man wearing a green hoodie and brown and on the side a man in a black jacket and jeans and white top

Dumi Oburota, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Dias Feld

Two men and women standing together wearing blue and grey outfits

Kobi Prempeh and Pippa Bennett-Warner

A woman wearing a red suit holding a wine glass

Camilla Rutherford

A man and woman wearing black outfits

Leila Maleki and Sadegh Dolatshahi

A man in a black suit standing next to a man wearing a purple tie dye jumper, blue jeans and orange trainers standing next to a man wearing a beaded dress and head cover

Daniel Lismore, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Kamiar Maleki

A man in a brown jacket standing next to a women wearing a silk pink and black dress

Amber Le Bon and Stephen Webster

A woman in a black and white suit standing between a man in an all black suit and another man wearing a purple tie dye jumper, blue jeans and orange trainers

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar with Fatima and Kamiar Maleki

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

SASSAN TO PROVIDE TWO MORE LINES OF INFORMATION ABOUT LAUNCH IN MONACO 29 JUNE HERE

Share:
Reading time: 8 min
Dark red splattered paint on a canvas

Iris Study No.7 18 x 26cm Oil on Canvas

Artist, W.K. Lyhne speaks to Maryam Eisler about her latest body of work, Stabat Mater, where she explores  the treatment of the female body throughout history

ME: Can you talk to me about how the concept of post-humanity has informed your latest project?
W.K. Lyhne: As you know, Humanism as a concept emerged at the time of the Enlightment, that Man was at the centre, instead of religion. Man was the measure of all things and this was exemplified in Da Vinci’s image of the Vitruvian Man. But the concept of Man excluded more than it included. It was defined by what it is not. It was not, the racialised or sexualised ‘other’, it was not people of colour, people of sexual difference, Jews, children, animals, the disabled, women. There are two examples at the time, often cited, that show this so well. The French writer, Olympe de Gouges, part of the French Revolution who responded to the Revolution’s Declaration of Human Rights of 1789, by writing the Declaration of Women’s Rights in response. The regime guillotined her almost immediately. Another example is from a biography that I’m reading at the moment of a man called Toussaint Louverture, known as the Black Spartacus. He was involved in the overthrow of slavery in Haiti at the same time as the French Revolution. He was imprisoned by Napoleon and died in captivity. We are all equal, but some more than others.

W.K. Lyhne photographed by Maryam Eisler in her studio

When you came to my studio we spoke about Mary, who is given to women as a pedagogue of what women should be: this passive, two-dimensional, non-complaining, virtually mute figure. Mary speaks four times in the Bible.

Marina Warner, says Mary is ‘alone of all her sex’ and this is accurate. She’s not male and she’s not really female. She never processes through the normal animal functions of women. She doesn’t have sex, she doesn’t menstruate, she doesn’t age, she doesn’t perspire, she simply doesn’t change – exactly the same static figure all her life, biddable and mute. Yet she remains the ultimate woman and mother.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Alongside this I’m looking at animals in art that are supposed to represent ‘us’ – our mortal selves. But what is this humanity the ‘us’ that they are trying to represent? Often they are done through the agency of the Church. Like the Flayed Ox , meaning Christ, done by many artists, Soutine, Bacon, Rembrandt, Saville, and the Lamb of God, also Christ, Van Eyck and Zubaran. For this I’ve been looking at actual sheep, the lamb, through this lens. In my recent work is connecting the anachronized figure of Mary with the anachronized image of the lamb.

A painting of a naked woman lying down

Once Upon a Time (Met Him Pike Hoses)

In the case of Mary, it’s a patriarchal story designed to oppress. The cult of Marianism is very much admired in countries where docility, passivity, and service to your man, whether that’s your priest as a nun, or your husband or your father, are admired. In many Catholic countries, these are espoused as ideal characteristics for women.

a painting of a woman lying down naked with her breast on show

Once Upon a Time (Met Him Pike Hoses) detail

In the case of the lamb, I’ve noticed when you look into a field of sheep they are not just sheep, they are a field of ewes. Of mothers. Have you’ve seen a ewe with its fluff removed? Sheared they are very mortal looking. Matronly, exposed and not at all like the furry shorthand of sheep at all.

A woman standing by a chimney in a dirty white jacket with art works around her

Photo by Maryam Eisler

ME: Talk to me about religion.
WKL: I’m not religious. I used to believe in God, I think I used to believe the whole religious story. I don’t anymore. I did believe there was a maker at some level. But last year in Greece on a residency at the British School, I looked closer at other stories from earlier cultures. Isis, Osiris, Cronus and Rea, Baucis and Philemon etc. All the stories are so similar to our own bible stories. Ours, like theirs, are just a version.

What interests me in the image of the animal in the Lamb of God, is that it has not changed since Roman times. It hides in plain sight. It’s on menus, it’s on football shirts, it’s everywhere, but nowhere. It’s part of our visual vocabulary, but what about the animal behind it? The image moves from livestock to Church pin up, like Mary, a girl of Galilee to the Queen of Heaven. What is the meaning behind it? In the case of Mary, it’s a patriarchal story designed to oppress women. I fail to see how anybody could not be interested in religion, in the sense that these things inhabit our collective and national consciousness. They’re all there, where you’re aware of it or not, they never go away.

A painting of a mythological creature

Stabat Mater 111 (John Moores) 120 x 160cm Oil on Canvas

ME: It’s very inspiring and you could aspire to it, but then the underlying factors are something different.
WKL: Yes, it’s exactly so. And it’s very seductive. Religious imagery and sacred music accompany you at some level from birth to death. They are very comforting and at ceremonies they offer the element of sobriety. The music particularly is incredibly beautiful and it has such credibility. People want to believe in something.

ME: I think there’s that: fright and hope. I always say religion, gives you hope, and it also frightens you from doing something that’s not right in case you get punished. I suppose it keeps you in the straight line.
WKL: Agree. It gives you a place to occupy, certainly. Rituals to navigate the unrelenting chaos that is life. I’m looking currently at Aby Warburg, the German art historian, who created this idea he called pathosformel . This he intended to mean the emotionally charged visual trope that recur throughout images in Western Europe. The idea is that certain images have a shorthand to connect with feelings, a visual mnemonic if you like. I am trying to see if it’s possible to find a new pathosformel , that represents some of those things that are excluded from the definition of humanity. This is not men-bashing or even only feminist – I looking for something more complex, something more nuanced, I guess.

Photography of W.K. Lyhne’s studio, in the home of one of her collectors, by Maryam Eisler

The Age of Enlightenment Man has the poster boy of the Vitruvian Man. Vitruvius – the heteronormative, able-bodied, ethnocentric, handsome, young, powerful man – who stands outstretched, in his symmetrical nakedness. This image of what “human” is, has now left the bounds of this earth. It is sewn onto the uniforms of NASA‘s astronauts and it flies on the flag on the moon.

ME: It’s interesting that they’ve chosen that to put on the moon. Who have they put that for? It’s a representation of mankind but not humankind.
WKL: Yes, very much so. We need images that are more enabling, more complex. The pandemic showed us more than anything else, we’re all in this together. But we’re not the same. There are people without sanitation, girls without education, people without rights. The voiceless, the unheard. I’m very interested in this idea of voice and the scream that can be seen but can’t be heard. That is some of what the triptych at the Zabludowicz Collection are about. These and other one, in the John Moores Painting Prize shortlist, are also connected with the unrecognisability of relationships within the maternal framework . How despite a child being from your body, the relationship never settles, can be often disjointed, always in flux. But as always it’s also about the possibilities and suggestibilities that paint can offer.

Three paintings next to each other

The triptych on display at the Zabludowicz Collection

ME: Are you showing whole triptych at the Zabludowicz Collection?
WKL: Yes, until 25th June.

ME: Talk to me about that wonderful image of Jesus. The long one and your versions.
WKL: That is a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, done in 1521 and its hangs in the Kunst Museum in Basel. Last year, it was 500 years since it was done. Holbein represented an incredible departure from what had gone before – he’s a very fine painter. Some people believe it was a predella, the section at the bottom of an altarpiece and that’s why it’s long and thin – one foot by six feet, thirty by one hundred and eighty centimetres. I just prefer to think that Holbein decided to make this incredibly controlled environment using a long piece of wood for a painting surface – an enclosure, where this piece of corporeality was going to exist and that corporeality was the corpus of Christ. The Christ you’ve killed. The dead man. The squashed man. The emaciated man. The human man. There was a lot being written about the fact that he was just like any man and not sacred enough. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Donatello exhibition in the Bargello. It’s now on at the Victoria and Albert Museum, but I saw it in Florence last year, and there’s a great fuss at the time at Donatello’s wooden Christ didn’t look ‘Christ-like’ enough. He was too ordinary. Brunelleschi said, like a tradesman and not holy enough. And there were similar concerns over the Holbein Christ; he got a corpse and worked from that – all too human.

A woman standing behind a painting

Photo by Maryam Eisler

I became very interested fabric during the pandemic – I did this program to support a project of the charity Action Aid, they supply sanitary products to vast parts of the world, particularly Africa. One of their projects addresses period poverty. Half the population of the world menstruate, that’s how we procreate the species, but for too many, it’s considered problematic, disgusting, full of shame, stigma.

During lockdown, when we were all kind of sent home and we didn’t know what to do with ourselves in our domestic environments. The fabric of what surrounded you took on a new importance. Fabrics are concealing, revealing, inside the body, outside the body, covering up for it, it’s quite a female concern. I started to paint these fabrics, ordinary everyday fabrics of the home, worn thin by wear and touch, on cotton rag paper, also blobby and worn. The paper made in India by a programme called Khadi. These start with ragpickers – women generally – who take the discarded fabric and bleach them with peroxide to make paper from them. The oil leaked out of my paint onto the cotton paper, all speaking to the materiality of the project and subject matter. The idea, called On Rag (an old-fashioned British term for having a period) was circular: I painted them on this cotton rag paper made by women and sold them and the money went to buy paper products for women in.

A painting of a woman and clothes on a bed

She Banks Down Fire (after Hans Holbein the Younger)

That was the project I was working on when I decided to paint a version of the Holbein. Working away from a studio meant working in the bedroom. In London I sleep in a box bed. What is shown in She Banks Down Fire is my own box bed, underwear, used tissues, discarded knickers, damp towels. Holbein’s Christ has a dark blood caked on a wound made by a spear, mine the more humdrum monthly sanguine staining. The ridged hollowness of Christ’s ribcage, are the spines of underwire, the stiff black hair, is see-thru nylon.

Simone De Beauvoir says that women are made from Adam’s supernumerary bone, that humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him. He is the Subject , here like Christ, she is the Other. Jonathan Jones, the journalist from The Guardian, wrote about Holbein’s Christ that there is nothing Christlike about this body, nothing to set it apart. It is anyone’s corpse. But as you know, this is world in which the women all live, all women, every month, every child is a reminder of the mortal, bloody, messy, fleshy real.

Then I did a second version one with a female figure. It’s called Once Upon a Time: Met HimPike Hoses. The female figure is naked, incredibly skinny, very, very narrow – the way women are supposed to be and not take up much space. Unusually for me, I’ve painted the model very elaborately and hyper-realistically. In that particular picture she’s lying on this very girly kind of 1960s see-through negligée, recalling the heritage of porn star bedroom glamour, that women are heir to.

The title is two fold, the first being the princess in a box, awaiting a man’s kiss so she can flourish – here pushing her toes against the glass ceiling.

A painting of a person in a white dress

Stabat Mater 1 Oil 120 x 160cm on Canvas

The second is referring to the word ’metempsychosis’ the supposed transmigration at death of the soul of a human being or animal into a new body, which the character of Molly uses incorrectly (met him pike hoses) in James Joyces’ Ulysees. I used in the title here, because, not only is Molly a variation of Marian/Mary a.k.a Virgin Mary, but because the same narrative is given to girls since Mary and over centuries, reincarnated over and over – await your prince, don’t take up too much space, don’t leak, sweat or bleed visibly or have body hair, or opinions.

ME: What are your next projects or next areas of exploration?
WKL: A film project. LambEnt. I’m looking at the relationship between ewe and lamb and the sounds they make at a particular moment, again unnoticed and unrecorded, and reworking this as a feminist Stabat Mater.

A painting of a two men, one in an army uniform and one naked

Band of Brothers 18 x 24cm on Canvas

I don’t know if you know much about Catholic music, but there are various parts to a cathedral sung mass, one of which is the Agnus Dei, Lamb of God. Another part of Catholic musical liturgy is a song for Mary called Stabat Mater. In Latin this means ‘standing mother’. That’s what mothers do. They stand and they take it. Stabat Mater is Mary weeping at the foot of the cross, the only occasion where she is vocal. Mary’s relationship with her child is the only intimate experience in her life, like the ewe.

A painting of people sitting by a tree

Stick or Twist 60 x 80cm Oil on Board

For the film and music piece I’m making, I am working with actual sheep sound, farmers, animal neuroscientists, with zoomorphic and sacred composers and singers making piece of music to go between the Angus Dei and the Stabat Mater, called LambEnt. It is designed to interrupt the visual and musical canon. It is this voice of nature that is not noticed, not heard, that is the same voice of many that is not heard, particularly currently in Iran but across the world. A global noise. The unheard of all those excluded from the definition of Man is now added to our human species exceptionalism domination of the earth. It is this that has wrought global devastation.

Read more: An Interview with William Kentridge

It’s very exciting and very different for me, doing a collaborative project, because normally I can control what I’m working on. It will be a very short film but if we get it right it will hopefully be very beautiful and powerful and show what art can do. Make the hidden explicit, find the universal in the particular.

A mythological creature holding an animal's leg

Stabat Mater IV 125 x 165cm Oil on Canvas

ME: Can you tell me about your porcelain project?
WKL: Absolutely. Historically, those delicate porcelain figurines made by all the famous European companies, Meissen, Sevres and others, were brought out at the dessert course at grand dinner parties. They were designed to show how wealthy you were but also to be diverting and fun, play objects for the rich and jaded.

I’m so interested in these silly scenes that are depicted, at a time when there was such inequality, war, famine and violence. The shepherdesses and card players and cheeky smiling maids and soldiers in these porcelain groups, were existing at a time of rape, poverty, war, violence where even wealthy and well brought up women could be ‘beaten and flung about the room’ by her family, according to Virginia Woolf, for not agreeing to marry the man chosen for her. This one is called Band of Brothers. Rape has always been an instrument of war, but it also occurred casually and often, leaving occupied countries riddled with venereal disease and women who died in shame for being made pregnant. Many terrible things happened to women during wartime.

It’s an ongoing project, it never quite leaves me. I love the fact that you have to look twice to understand what is going on. The paintings are very small and I don’t normally work that size. They are oil sketches really. Again, it’s about collision to create new meanings. Of course, it’s wonderful to paint well and I get very ambitious for these porcelains to look lusciously real, but what they mean matter too. To me, only art can do this. Life’s too short not to care.

W.K. Lyhne’s works are on display at the Zabludowicz Collection in London until 25th June 2023

She is giving a lecture on her work at University of the Arts Inaugural Research Conference on 23rd June  2023, at Granary Square London.

Share:
Reading time: 15 min
A woman wearing a blue jumper with her arms folded standing in front of colourful paintings
A woman wearing a blue jumper with her arms folded standing in front of colourful paintingsBernadine Bröcker Wieder is the CEO of Arcual, a blockchain software created by an art focused ecosystem for the art world. Here Wieder speaks to LUX’s Leader and Philanthropist Editor, Samantha Welsh, about buying and selling art on the blockchain and the effect it will have on the next generation of art collectors

LUX: How has your experience as an artist and art historian shaped your values?
Bernadine Bröcker Wieder: I am always thinking about the future and often thinking with artists in mind, as I originally trained as a classical artist, before managing an Impressionist and Modern gallery in London. I love exceptions to the rules and creativity. When you are building technology but thinking about how it might be used in the future, the tech has to be capable of being customised, upgraded and scalable. You cannot employ a one size fits all approach to anything in life yet technology is about binaries.

Given my background working with museums with my first venture, Vastari, I learned about ethics. Museums built international standards throughout the world to attempt to uphold a neutrality to preserve our culture and knowledge. This is so difficult to do, and there has been heated debate about what ethical behaviour looks like this century, taking into account our evolving thinking around sustainability and inclusion.

Additionally, I believe in the importance of giving back. I am excited to see how Arcual develops its next features with museums and other non-profit organisations in mind. For example, can we facilitate resale royalties receivable for those non-profit institutions that commission artworks from artists so as to help ongoing funding of those institutions?

colourful vases on a shelf in the middle of a room

Athene Galiciadis, Empty Sculptures, 2023, courtesy of von Bartha Gallery Copenhagen

LUX: How did your understanding of sales dynamics inspire you to test a new approach to managing exhibitions?
BBW: People often go into the world of art and tech because they identify problems that can be solved. I noticed that museum exhibitions often showed the same works over and over again from the same group of lenders, and excluded privately owned works, so with my first venture, I built a matchmaking service for collectors and museums. Having a museum show can greatly impact the perceived value of a work of art, so opening-up that value creation to a greater pool of lenders seemed sensible.

As Vastari grew, we received feedback from the museums that they also wanted matchmaking services for touring exhibitions so we evolved to include this in our offering. So much of the sales process is about listening to what the customer really needs and how to solve for that.

At Arcual, I know that our offering will continue to change and evolve based on the feedback we receive, and that’s what is beautiful about technology – it is iterative.

A picture of white flowers hanging from a branch

Detail from Nocturne by Phoebe Cummings, 2016

LUX: How did this change definitions of art and art communities?
BBW: At Vastari, I learned the benefits of involving various different stakeholders in the art ecosystem, and the importance of being involved with associations. We became a member of the International Council of Museums, the American Alliance of Museums, and the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries. These associations were instrumental to our technological innovation becoming aligned and involved with, rather than trying to go against, the status quo.

I am personally a member of many communities, from AWITA and PAIAM to The Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars and Sandbox. These communities shape the way I see the world and connect to it, and help me interact with others with different opinions or viewpoints to my own.

black and white faces on circles stacked together on a wall

Bon appétit IV, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Sabrina Amrani

LUX: New technologies are often seen as ‘taking out the middleman’ and an opportunity for direct engagement between artists and collectors. What do you think will be the impact of blockchain on art world infrastructures and relationships?
BBW: Technology can certainly be considered as a disintermediation tool, but you are still using a technology platform to connect. That can be Facebook, Youtube, TikTok, Docusign or OpenSea. We are trusting new technology-based middlemen to transact even if these platforms are perceived to be neutral.

So it’s about looking deeper at the new middleman, and whether you trust them. With blockchain you can at least make sure that your data is not held hostage by one organisation. At Arcual, we are founded by a collaboration between the LUMA Foundation, MCH Group (the parent company of Art Basel) and BCG X.

So, going back to the idea of taking-out the middleman in the art world, many think the future is about artists selling directly to collectors. I believe that there is a reason why the gallery or dealer historically played an important role in that relationship. So our system is about collaboration, as opposed to competing and ‘cutting-out’; more about reinforcing why that relationship exists in the first place. For example, Arcual generates digital certificates of authenticity for artworks with dual signatories, signed by both the artist and the gallery for added trust, before an artwork’s provenance is logged into the blockchain.

colourful blue and yellow paintings hung on a wall

Fiona Rae, Faerie gives delight and hurts not, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris Brussels

In the coming months, we will also launch an expanded digital Certificate of Authenticity feature, which can contain attachments, be personalised and much more. The expanded CoA enables artists and galleries to build out and affirm the authenticity of an artwork, acting as a kind of digital dossier, which strengthens the connection and makes it more valuable for a collector.

As a technology provider, Arcual aims to bring value with the features we build and also uphold the existing value that different parties bring to the ecosystem.

LUX: What does the Arcual team look like and how do you all bring your strengths?
BBW: Arcual has developed a unified team with such a strong sense of purpose since I joined as CEO, just over a year ago. With 34 talents across 17 different nationalities and growing, based in Zurich, London and Berlin, we work collaboratively towards one mission, that of empowering the art ecosystem to embrace innovation, for a more equal future.

LUX: How is blockchain disrupting how the art market functions?
BBW: Blockchain engenders trust through its checks and balances, ensuring that information is encrypted, secured, and timestamped. The fact that it processes automatically according to the terms of an agreement can ensure that all parties in a transaction are protected.

zoomed in flowers made of clay

Phoebe Cummings (clay) detail (2)

Arcual’s blockchain aims to work with and for, as opposed to against, existing art world structures. Later this year our whitepaper outlines our approach to privacy and governance, that we maintain rights of privacy but the transparency of the transaction can offer parties confidence.

Our backers stand for quality, and for championing sustainable growth in the future of the art market. We are one company, but our shareholders form a decentralised governance, and there will be a gradual process of decentralisation of the technology and governance in line with blockchain principles.

LUX: Why is this significant for next gen emerging artists?
BBW: Arcual has been purpose-built to offer artists greater participation in their own careers. Our agreements, certificates and smart contract terms are approved by artists. This is significant because it gives artists an opportunity to codify their preferences for the future conservation, care and installation of their work. For gallerists, the 2023 Art Market Report (AMR) showed that finding and engaging new artists is a key priority, particularly for primary market art dealers. In 2022, sales from the single highest-selling artist accounted for an average of 31% of sales for galleries, while their top three artists accounted for just over half of sales.

Galleries that use Arcual’s blockchain technology are committed to empowering artists from the very beginning of their careers. This is an important message and attractive offer for engaging the next generation of artists.

red cloth on the floor

Lea Porsager, Mandorla breaks Open, 2023

LUX: How will these changes affect collectors?
BBW: As Arcual helps engage new artists, it also engages new collectors. The AMR also flagged that ‘blockchain is helping to lower barriers to entry into the market, enabling new collectors to enter [which is] essential to its long-term health”. With the failure of some internet-based businesses, the uncertainty of social media pages’ longevity, potential internet disruption, and with the inherent risks associated with only having paper certificates, it is the availability and security of information stored on the blockchain which is attracting younger generations and new collectors.

LUX: Please sketch how ledger principles apply to art transacting and smart contracts?
BBW: Ledgers basically help everyone to understand what has been agreed and that these terms have not been changed until that is added to the ledger. Arcual’s smart contract terms and ownership agreements offer a chain of ownership and digital certificate of authenticity that is protected on the blockchain and can be harnessed for future secondary market sales and acquisitions.

LUX: What is next for Arcual and how can the community get involved?
BBW: In June, Arcual will be an official partner for Zurich Art Weekend, hosting a panel discussion with some exciting speakers around how technology is impacting power dynamics in the art world.

During Art Basel in Basel, I’m thrilled that Arcual will have a booth in the Collectors Lounge for which we have commissioned a unique sculptural artwork by British artist Phoebe Cummings to spark conversations around our new Digital Dossier feature. We will also take part in events and talks around the fair, including the Conversations series panel around blockchain, ownership and copyright.

Find out more: www.arcual.art

Share:
Reading time: 8 min

Vik Muniz, Woman of Algiers, after Pablo Picasso (Surfaces), 2022

Brazilian artist and photographer Vik Muniz’s most recent series Surfaces is currently on display in the FOTOCUBISMO exhibition at Ben Brown Fine Arts in Mayfair, London until 26th May.

Born in Sao Paulo Vik Muniz’s abstract studies of shape and form recall the Cubism of Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger, but he also integrates his own personal style and techniques. Speaking to LUX, he described Cubism as: “…a response by artists to the hegemonic influence of photography on the way we see the world. They saw something in the world that was more complex, more human, and more multifaceted, and to go back after such a long time and use the same medium, the medium of photography, to reinsert this power of questioning to Cubistic images seemed like a challenge but also it just became an extension of what I was doing earlier.”

Vik Muniz, Still Life 2, after Giorgio Morandi (Surfaces), 2022

In this series, Muniz uses a hybrid approach, photographing his own paintings and collages which are often inspired by iconic images from art history, from Otto Freundlich’s works to those of Burle Marx. The resulting photograph is then edited and reassembled to create the final piece, one of many layers and textures, which mixes the mediums of photography and painting and calls the viewer to question the nature of their own perception. In this way, Muniz presents a study on ways of looking and seeing, while also exploring the reality that lies beneath the surface.

Vik Muniz, Dora Maar with Cat (Surfaces), 2022

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

On his Surfaces series, Muniz told LUX: “The idea is that the pictures are filled with layers of meaning that shift the pictorial plane and the objective is to cause a lot of ambiguity. So whatever you see as a piece of paper may just be a picture of a piece of paper. I hope to create a lot of confusion in the gaze of the viewers, and that it becomes not only entertaining but also revealing of what they are hoping to see in a picture.”

Vik Muniz, Guernica, after Pablo Picasso 2 (Surfaces), 2022

Muniz has gained international recognition for his distinctive approach of creating compositions using unconventional materials such as chocolate, sugar, garbage, diamonds, caviar, toys, junk, scrap metal, dry pigment, vintage postcards and even dust. His work often blurs the line between reality and representation, compelling viewers to question what they see. With numerous accolades and exhibitions in prestigious galleries and museums worldwide, Muniz continues to push boundaries, challenging conventional notions of materiality and visual representation. His work is included in major collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and Tate, London.

Vik Muniz, Nude Descending Staircase, after Marcel Duchamp 2 (Surfaces), 2021

Read more: 6 Questions: Valentina Volchkova, Head of Pace Gallery, Geneva 

Vik Muniz: FOTOCUBISMO is the fourth solo exhibition presented at the Ben Brown Fine Arts gallery. The gallery opened in 2004 in the heart of Mayfair and positioned itself on the contemporary art scene, as well as becoming known for its exhibitions of 20th century artists. In 2009, they opened up a second gallery space in Hong Kong, with another in Palm Beach launching in 2021.

Vik Muniz: FOTOCUBISMO is on display until 26th May, 2023

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
Two long tables in a room with a green light up sign for Richard Mille at the end of the room
Two long tables in a room with a green light up sign for Richard Mille at the end of the room

Dinner at the ceremony for the Richard Mille Art Prize, against the spectacular backdrop of
Louvre Abu Dhabi

One of the art world’s most prestigious awards, the Richard Mille Art Prize in partnership with Louvre Abu Dhabi, was this year awarded to a female artist in the Gulf. Darius Sanai visited Louvre Abu Dhabi for the big event

Under a starlit sky by the edge of the Gulf, two celebrated dancers are performing classical ballet to Beethoven‘s Moonlight Sonata. Two long tables of guests-art collectors, government officials, artists and watch collectors- look on, mesmerised.

The performance is choreographed and led by Benjamin Millepied, the renowned director, dancer, and choreographer (including of the film, Black Swan), and husband of film star Natalie Portman. His accompanying danseuse is Caroline Osmont, of the Paris Opera Ballet. The dance is short, but beautiful. When I ask Millepied afterwards how it is to create and then perform a routine to the Moonlight, which was not written to be danced to, he simply smiles, and says, “I liked it!”

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Memorable as it was, the dance at the gala outdoor dinner was just a warm-up for the main act: the announcement of the winner of one of the most significant art prize in the world-and quite possibly the most financially rewarding: the Richard Mille, art prize in partnership with Louvre Abu Dhabi. Worth $60,000 to the winning artist, the Prize, awarded by the uber-luxury, high-tech watch brand, also sees it ten shortlisted regional candidates display that works at Louvre Abu Dhabi, the local iteration of the fabled, Paris museum, whose collection sweeps from ancient Persia to Cy Twombly.

A white building by the sea

Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel

Louvre Abu Dhabi is the cornerstone of an impressive, new cultural district in the Emirate, which will soon house further significant museums, including a Guggenheim, and which is already home to the astonishing Abrahamic Family House, an interfaith complex, comprising a mosque, cathedral and synagogue (plus an education centre), devoted to the three major Abrahamic faiths and nurturing mutual understanding.

Earlier that day, we’d had a private tour of the new Louvre (which was closed to the public, as it is every Monday). The “Art Here, 2022” exhibition, housing, the shortlisted works, had pride of place in the museums Forum. The theme in this, the Prize’s second year, was “Icon. Iconic.“, a suitably art-world-gnomic concept allowing artists to exercise their full creative imaginations. Eight of the ten artists on the shortlist were female, and encouraging affirmation for women in these times.

A white room with light coming through a window

Between Desert Seas, 2021, by Ayman Zedani

The first work is so complex it required several minutes to negotiate and understand. Ayman Zedani’s Between Desert Seas approaches you visually as white salt on an internal roof; and then aurally, as a soundtrack that you quickly realise, is about the plight of the Arabian Sea humpback whale. Listening for a couple of minutes, between whalesong, you learn that these non-migratory whales are a unique species, derived from a pod that became separated from the rest of whalekind around 70,000 years ago. They have developed the own song and culture – and they are under existential threat. Global warming has acidified and poison to the sea, and the removal of water for desalination has made it more toxic.

coloured sheets on a table

Wall House, 2022, by Vikram Divecha

Wall House, by Vikram Divecha, is a proposal by the artist to remove and retain the walls of hundreds of houses in the region that are slated for demolition, and preserve them to show a portrait of our times has created by the houses’ inhabitants. The idea is illustrated by a 1:100-scale maquette, showing what is a large scale installation of this project could look like.

There was Sidelines, a work by Saudi artist Manal AlDowayan, celebrating the intricate heritage of weaving in Saudi history, lost when oil money started flowing in the 20th century.

A brown and cream tent

Sidelines, 2016, by Manal AlDowayan

Afra Al Dhaheri, an artist from Abu Dhabi, showed Weighing The Line, a striking workers, consisting of hanging ropes, pulled down by ropes on the ground-symbolising, in the artists’ words, social conditioning and constructs.

I was particularly struck by Xylophone, a work on pyro-engraved scrap wood by Elizabeth Dorazio, a Brazilian artist, now resident in Dubai. The artist said she wanted to make a statement that wood is a “vestige of excess extractavism”- and the work is quite beautiful and engaging.

UAE-born artist and academic Shaukha Al Mazrou created A Still Life of an Ever-Changing Crop Field, in glazing ceramic, inspired by crop circles, and “natures place in the world, invaded by human imprint”, one of the several environmentally inspired, works and beautiful as an installation.

A large wooden and tin pole

Camouflage: The Fourth Pillar, 2022, by Zeinab Alhashemi

Perhaps the most visually arresting work, Break of the Atom and Vegetal Life (after Zeid), is by Abu Dhabi-based artist, Simrin Mehra-Agarwal. It is a complex work that appears on first sight to be a tapestry. It is, in fact, made of graphite, charcoal, ink, primer, plaster, gypsum powder, stucco, acrylic, gesso, glue, sand, fibreglass, vellum, Mylar and paper on wooden panels. The artist says it “questions nature and its various states of bloom and decay within the context of the histories of war or neglect, as well as the contemporary issue of climate change”. Powerful, complex, at first sight, it looked like a maelstrom of clouds viewed from a satellite.

A woman in a floral dress standing between two men

Peter Harrison, CEO of Richard Mille EMEA,
and Manuel Rabaté, Director of Louvre
Abu Dhabi, present the 2022 Richard Mille Art Prize in partnership with Louvre Abu Dhabi to Rand Abdul Jabbar

Zeinab Alhashemi, an artist, based in Dubai, submitted the fourth pillar, from her camouflage series that featured at the celebrated DesertX AlUla. The pillar mimics the pillars at the gallery and, made of camel hides over metal rods, tones with the surrounding desert.

Standing by the ruins, the work of mosaic clay tiles by Dana Awartani, an artist based in Jeddah with Saudi and Palestinian roots, was visually striking on the lower floor. Awartani says she deliberately did not use the straw traditionally utilise in the region is tiles, thus allowing them to crack naturally overtime.

an artwork on the floor

Installation view of Standing By the Ruins, 2022, by Dana Awartani

Next to this work was a long plinth on which was displayed 100 of exquisite, intricate little glazed stoneware figures. In a panoply of colours and sizes, earthly wonders, celestial beings, featured, plays, on jugs, cups, human, and natural figures, that related directly as a modern take on Mesopotamian stoneware, including some in the new recollection. The artist, Iraqi-born Rand Abdul Jabbar, is based in Abu Dhabi.

people sitting having dinner in a room lit up with orange and yellow lights

Dinner in stunning surroundings

One of the most valuable art prizes in the world (if not the most back valuable); eight out of ten artist, shortlisted female; powerful themes of environmental loss; significant pedigree from all the artists and support and an exhibition at a Louvre. Why isn’t the Richard Mille Prize even better known, I pondered, while on my way to the prize giving event that evening?

A man and woman dancing on a stage

The ceremony, Benjamin Millepied and Caroline Osmont perform a
ballet choreographed by Millepied to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata

Perhaps because the Middle East and Gulf region is relatively new to the contemporary art scene (they’re not the ancient art scene, in which it predates the West by millennia); or perhaps, because the Western eye does not yet quite respect this part of the East and its culture as it should. In any case, credit to the powerful French brand, the Louvre and iconic Swiss brand Richard Mille for making it happen.

The evening after the dance and a performance by Dutch singer, Davina Michelle, the winner was announced: Rand Abdul Jabbar is Earthly Wonders, Celestial Beings. The artist was presented with the award and generous check.

ceramic coloured art pieces on a white table

Earthly Wonders, Celestial Beings, 2019-ongoing, by Rand Abdul Jabbar

“Rand Abdul Jabbar delivered outstanding works at push the boundaries of contemporary creativity,” said Peter Harrison, CEO of Richard Mille EMEA. “This is a celebration of our tenure partnership with Louvre, Abu Dhabi, and 10 incredible artist from the region, whose work was inspired by their cultural roots.”

Read more: Deutsche Bank: The Art Collection You Didn’t Know About

The originality, power and scope of a generation of artist, based in the Gulf that had been made clear. This is a region that is artistically, on fire.

Find out more: richardmille.com/louvre-abu-dhabi

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 7 min
a sofa in a lobby with colourful works of art on the walls behind it
a sofa in a lobby with colourful works of art on the walls behind it

The Four Seasons, 2021, by Idris Khan, in the lobby of the Deutsche Bank Center, New York

With Preview Day of Frieze New York underway, Will Fenstermaker discovers a stunning and carefully curated selection of artworks, in a spectacular skyscraper in midtown Manhattan, courtesy of Deutsche Bank

On a warm Manhattan afternoon, the sun is shining in a way that it only shines in cities and canyons. For a moment, light reaches the lobby of the Deutsche Bank Center, two 55-storey skyscrapers occupying the entire west side of Columbus Circle in New York City. Inside, four coloured paintings seemed to come alive. They comprise a work called The Four Seasons by the London-based artist Idris Khan.

A landscaped terrace at the Deutsche Bank Center

A landscaped terrace at the Deutsche Bank Center

Unbeknown to many, the Deutsche Bank Center is home to one of the world’s most substantial collections of contemporary photographs and works on paper. Deutsche Bank began collecting art in the late 1970s with a small idea, one that would prove radical in the context of corporate collections: works on paper could be made viewable to all, not siloed away in storage or senior executives’ offices. In 1978, the bank arranged its first display in its New York offices, and in 1986 it opened its new global headquarters in Frankfurt’s Twin Towers with each of the buildings’ 60 floors dedicated to a single artist.

Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century by Andy Warhol

Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century by Andy Warhol at the Deutsche Bank Centre in New York

At the time, the collection consisted mostly of work made by German artists (Deutsche Bank owns a particularly significant watercolour from Sigmar Polke’s early Capitalist Realism period, for example, and a vibrant pencil drawing made by AR Penck while the artist was living in the German Democratic Republic). Today, Deutsche Bank’s collection consists of tens of thousands of works of art, representing cultures from around the world, and displayed across 900 offices. “Portrait of a Collection”, in Deutsche Bank’s Columbus Circle building, charts the evolution and expansion of the New York collection. “Diversity is a truly important topic at Deutsche Bank,” says Britta Färber, Global Head of Art. Färber says works in the collection by Abstract Expressionist artists Eva Hesse, Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell are “as groundbreaking as those of their male counterparts.” They underscore the impact of women artists on the movement.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

While Deutsche Bank has no special remit to collect work by women artists, its attention to them over the decades is impressive. Wangechi Mutu, the subject of a recent retrospective at the New Museum and a 2019 façade commission at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, earned early support as a Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year in 2010. Alongside the major works by female Abstract Expressionists, the bank’s US collection contains major works by influential photographers such as Candida Höfer and Carrie Mae Weems, and contemporary artists such as Amy Sillman and Betty Woodman. In fact, Färber says that 80 per cent of recent acquisitions are works by women artists.

Fei Lai Feng by Thomas Struth

Works by Imi Knoebel (left) and Fei Lai Feng by Thomas Struth (right) in the collection at the Deutsche Bank Center, New York

For the prestigious Deutsche Bank Artists of the Year programme, a team of external art experts, including renowned curators Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann and Victoria Noorthoorn, propose key artists to a senior committee within the bank. It leads to an appreciation for art and community that is threaded throughout the organisation. More recent acquisitions include a triptych by John Akomfrah, a British artist of Ghanian descent and the son of anticolonial activists, and a group of works by Paris-based Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga, whose work explores the impact of colonialism on Canada’s First Nations. Both artists will represent their home countries at the 2024 Venice Biennale.

Four Panels from Untitled 1972, by Jasper Johns at the Deutsche Bank Centre in New York

Four Panels from Untitled 1972, by Jasper Johns at the Deutsche Bank Centre in New York

“It is an honour to have work in a collection as expertly curated, well regarded and diligently cared for as the Deutsche Bank collection,” says artist Erin O’Keefe. In 2022, the bank commissioned O’Keefe as its Lounge Artist at Frieze New York – a fair it has supported international presence is a real benefit,” O’Keefe continues. “It allows the work to be introduced to audiences beyond the regional art worlds.” In New York, works by Kandis Williams, Haegue Yang, Moshekwa Langa, Jose Dávila and ruby onyinyechi amanze provide a refreshingly global outlook on contemporary artistic production. “Because I developed a personal relationship with many of Deutsche Bank’s representatives, it didn’t feel like I was joining a significant corporate collection,” says amanze, who is happy to see her work contextualised in the company of such significant works on paper.

Works including ruby onyinyechi amanze’s Without a care in the galaxy, we danced on galaxies (or red sand with that different kind of sky) with ghosts of your fatherland keeping watch (left)

Works including ruby onyinyechi amanze’s Without a care in the galaxy, we danced on galaxies (or red sand with that different kind of sky) with ghosts of your fatherland keeping watch (left)

An immense composite photograph of the Shilin Night Market in Taiwan by photographer Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao belongs to a series “exploring the complex cultural conditions of countries that are heavily influenced by modern colonisation and the ongoing impact of globalised immigrant labour,” says the artist. Some might find it surprising that work so critical of capital is in the collection of a global corporation, but Deutsche Bank believes that its collection strengthens the firm’s commitment to funding positive impact.

The Oratory Command: X Carmichael King Hampton by Kandis Williams (left) and Untitled 2015 by Kay Hassan (right)

The Oratory Command: X Carmichael King Hampton by Kandis Williams (left) and Untitled 2015 by Kay Hassan (right) at the Deutsche Bank Centre, New York

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf’s Guide to Starting an Art Collection

Back downstairs, art including The Four Seasons is an expression of Deutsche Bank’s broader ambition to support sustainable initiatives. “The art in the lobby ties the since it was founded in London 20 years ago, including through its annual Los Angeles Film Award and Emerging Curators Fellowship. “The fact that the collection has an Deutsche Bank Center to the original design approach for our space,” says James Dyson, Director of Global Real Estate for the Americas.

Faces of Infinity (Unfinished) by Charles Avery

Faces of Infinity (Unfinished) by Charles Avery in the collection at the Deutsche Bank Centre, New York

When Deutsche Bank began planning the project, it hired Gensler to design the workspace. In June 2022, the project achieved LEED Gold certification, marking a significant advancement in Deutsche Bank’s goal of reaching net zero by 2050.

Jewel Glow – Trustworthy #248 by Haegue Yang in the collection at the Deutsche Bank Center, New York

Jewel Glow – Trustworthy #248 by Haegue Yang in the collection at the Deutsche Bank Center, New York

Deutsche Bank’s space consumes half the energy of its previous headquarters and 100% of its CO2 emissions are compensated via renewable sources. That sits well alongside the energy of its art.

Find out more: art.db.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

Share:
Reading time: 5 min
people standing together in different coloured outfits gathering for a photo with a pink champagne case
people standing together in different coloured outfits gathering for a photo with a pink champagne case

Left to right: Darius Sanai, Audrey bazin, Maria Sukkar, Frédéric Rouzaud, Rita Kamale, Nadja Swarovski and Brandei Estes

A crowd of the leading movers and shakers from the worlds of art and sustainability gathered at the Nobu Hotel in Portman Square to celebrate the Louis Roederer Photography Prize 2023, created by our sister company Quartet Consulting. High-profile guests included Guy Weston, Ina Sarikhani, Brandei Estes, Jessica Hodges, Maria Sukkar and Nadja Swarovski, among many others

A woman wearing a blue blazer and white t shirt holding a glass of champagne

Carrie Scott

A man wearing a hat with a beard on a screen next to a pink case of champagne

M’hammed Kilito giving his video message to the audience having won the award

A woman wearing a red top standing next to a woman wearing a black top

Left to right: Maria Sukkar and Ina Sarikhani

The Prize, now in its second instalment, was established by LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai and Louis Roederer CEO Frédéric Rouzaud under Quartet Consulting, to recognise outstanding contemporary photographers with a focus on sustainability and environmental issues.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Thirteen art world luminaries from across the globe were each asked to nominate three photographers to submit their works. An esteemed panel of judges including Maria Sukkar, Maryam Eisler, Brandei Estes, Alan Lo, Audrey Bazin, Nadja Swarovski, Sophie Neuendorf, Azu Nwagbogu and the Chair, Darius Sanai, then selected six entrants to make up the shortlist, which was then narrowed down to three finalists.

Three men wearing suits and the man in the middle holding a pink case of champagne

Left to right: Darius Sanai, runner up, Yasuhiro Ogawa and Frédéric Rouzaud

Three women standing together with two on either side holding champagne glasses

Left to right: Brandei Estes, Nadja Swarovski and Carrie Scott

three women standing with a man for a photograph

Left to right: Ilaria Ferragamo, Maria Sukkar, Franck Namy and Véronique Namy

This year’s finalists were the exceptional Hengki Koentjoro, M’Hammed Kilito and Yasuhiro Ogawa, each with a unique take on the awe-inspiring landscapes and tender humanity surrounding the issue of sustainability. They all received a magnum of Cristal, made by Louis Roederer from 100% biodynamically farmed grapes, and their work will be displayed at the White Box, Nobu Hotel Portman Square, London, from 11th May until 1st June.

M’Hammed Kilito was announced as the winner by Frédéric Rouzaud in the Nobu Bar to an excited throng of guests for his series ‘Before It’s Gone’, a meditation on the issue of oases degradation currently taking place in Kilito’s home country, Morocco.

an art gallery with photographs on the wall

The works of the finalists on display at the White Box Gallery at the Nobu Hotel London, Portman Square

champagne bottles in an art gallery

The Prize is run by the Fondation Louis Roederer to raise awareness around sustainability issues through photography

Upon receiving the award, Kilito commented: “I would like to say how absolutely honoured to receive the Louis Roederer Prize for Sustainability. I am so honoured to receive the Prize because I believe it is a very important one, highlighting the work of visual storytellers, and the issues of climate change and sustainability which are very close to my heart.”

 

Read more: Rock legend Graham Nash on collecting photography

Two men standing next to women wearing pink and red

Left to right: Durjoy Rahman, Darius Sanai, Audrey Bazin and Maria Sukkar

A woman wearing a red coat holding a glass of champagne standing next to two men in shirts and blazers

Left to right: Nadja Swarovski, Frédéric Rouzaud, Darius Sanai

A bald man wearing a scarf standing next to a women with her hair in a bun wearing a purple floral top

Left to right: Michel Ghatan and Helen Ho

The exhibition of the works of  M’hammed Kilito, Hengki Koentjoro and Yasuhiro Ogawa are on display at the Nobu Hotel London Portman Square until 1st June

 
Share:
Reading time: 8 min
Black and white photo of two pears in a bowl
red flowers

Red Dahlias by Cig Harvey

Graham Nash, of legendary music trio Crosby Stills and Nash, is a major collector of modern photography. As this year’s Photo London fair gets underway, we speak with Nash, curator and gallerist Camilla Grimaldi, and a photographer being exhibited at the fair, Sam Wright

The Collector: Graham Nash

Graham Nash is a legendary musician, songwriter, and photographer. His artistic talents have captivated audiences for decades as a founding member of iconic bands such as The Hollies and Crosby, Stills & Nash. However, Nash’s creative pursuits extend beyond music. He is also an avid photographer with a deep passion for the craft and an extensive collection.

LUX: What was it that made you begin collecting art?
Graham Nash: We were a poor family from the North of England and never had an image on a wall. Eric Burdon from the Animals turned me on to M.C.Escher in the mid sixties and I truly love Eschers’ work. When I was economically well off I began to collect Escher. His work and the work of Diane Arbus, whos’ images astound me to this day started my journey of surrounding myself with great work.

Black and white photo of two pears in a bowl

Two Pears by
Paul Caponigro

LUX: Can you tell us about a piece in your collection that has influenced your music?
GN: I find an interesting correlation between music and photography. To me, the world is made up of vibrations and I can sense that when I look at “Moonrise over Hernandez” by Ansel Adams, I can really feel the bushes and vegetation in the dark areas of the image and I ‘hear’ the cellos and the double bases, then I can imagine violins and violas in the soft, light cloud areas of the print I owned.

LUX: Have you ever regretted selling a piece?
GN: No, When I learn all that an image teaches me then I can let it go.

black and white photo of a tree on a hill

Mountain Tree, Study 1, Danyang, Chungcheonbukdo by Michael Kenna

LUX: What makes photography as a medium special?
GN: From the very beginning of humanity capturing images to the present day, great photography can show us, and the world around us, that we are indeed all interrelated in some sense, that we have to leave some sense of ourselves of having ‘been here’. From the first time that a human outlined a hand by blowing a coloured powder onto it on a wall somewhere back in the beginnings of self-expression to the images of today, photography reigns supreme.

LUX: What was your first ever camera and what do you use now? Do you think that new technology has changed your approach to the art over time?
GN: The camera that was given to me by my father was a vintage Agva. I don’t really care what instrument I’m using, I only care about what it sees. I’ve used everything from a Disney camera to 4×5’s