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Reading time: 11 min
Man and woman standing next to each other

Chong Huai Seng is one of Singapore’s most respected collectors. He and his daughter Ning Chong, a first mover in art investment advisory, speak with LUX Leaders and Philanthropists Editor Samantha Welsh about the future of art as an investment of passion

When international banker Chong Huai Seng started buying art in the 1980s, he could not have imagined growing a collection that would catalyse a forum for South East Asia’s prominent collectors, artists and experts; nor that in co-founding a gallery The Culture Story with his daughter, Ning Chong, she herself would see a gap for a specialist art investment advisory and would go on to found the Family Office for Art (FOfA). Father and daughter share their approach and insights into dealing with passion assets such as art

When did your collecting journey start?

Mr Huai Seng Chong: My collecting journey started in the mid 80’s when I was a stock broker and I used to travel to London frequently for business trips. I loved traipsing around Mayfair, dipping in and out of galleries. I started buying British sculpture and Russian paintings, very unusual because most people start buying art from their own country. I was merely responding to what I like, my daughter likes to call it “retail therapy” at a time before the internet, and all you had, was to trust your instinct and sensibilities.

Nina Chong: About seven years ago, I introduced some governance to my father’s art collection, cataloguing and art collection management and to assess the strengths of the collection and where we should focus our future acquisitions. With that, we are able to identify themes within the collection, and Dad always enjoys selecting and curating the pieces which we put up in our private gallery The Culture Story. Personally I started my own collection a mere two – three years ago. I realised I had a point of view, which was different from my father’s and there were certain artists and themes which resonated more strongly with me, as a new mother, as an entrepreneur.

Man and woman standing next to each other

Mr Huai Seng Chong and his daughter Ms Ning Chong are two of Singapore’s most respected collectors.

How did you decide a career as an art professional was for you?

CHS: Art collecting started as a hobby for me, almost forty years ago! I never thought this is something I would continue to do, and now this hobby has turned into a business venture between me and my daughter. This is something we did not plan to do, but I’m happy that we are on this adventure together.

NC: When I was young, I was surrounded by works of art and as a family we used to follow my Dad to visit galleries on the weekend. It was only after graduation, when I didn’t want to pursue banking or finance that my father nudged me to consider the art world. I did my own research, including a few internships in London before I decided that I would commit and pursue a career in the arts. It took me a long time to get to where I am, looking back it has been very rewarding to work in different areas such as art fairs, auction house, galleries to government policy work, it has given me a very comprehensive overview of the art ecosystem.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

What was the vision behind The Culture Story?

CHS: We started The Culture Story in June 2017 as a private gallery, like Gertrude Stein salon’s setting in her Paris apartment in the 1920s where artists, poets, writers, thinkers would get together and make merry. For us, we wanted to create a cosy environment where we can share works from our family collection, and encourage other collectors to collaborate with us. By organising exhibitions and hosting talks with artists, collectors and art world professionals, The Culture Story aims to promote greater understanding and discourse around art and foster connoisseurship.

How has the mission and collection evolved?

CHS: We are still very much following the mission we set out for The Culture Story at the beginning. The Singapore art scene has matured significantly and we are at a stage where other art collectors are open to collaborate with us. They are happy to share work(s) from their private collection, especially when they encounter feedback from members of the public, students or other art collectors and professionals.

Images hanging inside an art gallery

“Collecting Bodies: a short story about art and nudity in Asia” with works on loan from 10 art collectors

NC: We try to focus on a few themes amongst our family collection. Recently, we have loaned some of our works to museums for various exhibitions. One in particular is an early Kim Lim sculpture which is currently on view at the Hepworth Wakefield Museum in Yorkshire, United Kingdom. Later this year, the entire exhibition will travel to the National Gallery Singapore for her long-await retrospective exhibition.

We also loaned paintings by Futura and Timothy Curtis to Art Science Museum in Singapore for an exhibition called Sneakertopia, which celebrated everything related to the rise of street culture and pop art, and the phenomena of sneaker culture.

Man standing next to a sculpture

Kim Lim at Hepworth: the first major museum exhibition of Lim’s work since 1999, offering unparalleled insight into the artist’s life and work.

Artsworks shown in a room

Futura and Timothy Curtis at the Art Science Museum

Where has your acquisition strategy been particularly effective in nurturing innovative artists?

CHS: I like to support Singapore’s young and emerging artists. There is one artist in particular Hilmi Johandi whom I spotted almost fifteen years ago at the Affordable Art Fair in Singapore in 2011, today he is represented by OTA Fine Art, one of Japan’s leading contemporary art galleries who also represents Yayoi Kusama. I commissioned Hilmi to create a family portrait for us. Since then I support his practice by buying a work from every new series.

Colourful art painting

Hilmi Johandi works primarily with painting and explores interventions with new media that are associated within the domain of framing, fragmentation and compression

What is it about the Asian art market and intergenerational wealth transfer that created demand for the Family Office for Art (FOFA)?

NC: The South East Asian art market is still a young one, over the two decades we have seen significant progress with the emergence of galleries, art fairs, biennales, dealers and private museums etc.

Two years ago, I identified a gap in the industry, and I felt there were many things I could offer and help other collectors, the same way I used my skills and experience to maintain my father’s art collection. Most wealthy families have their financial assets and businesses handled by their private banker or family office, more often than not, the soft assets such as art and collectibles are overlooked or neglected. However these “passion assets” are very much part of the principle’s estate and his/her legacy. I’ve been studying this space for some time and I’ve learnt that with a proper system in place, it is a significant step towards protecting and enhancing the art collection’s commercial and cultural value.

At FOFA, we understand that dealing with passion assets such as art can be emotional and sentimental, and more often than not, it would require some degree of family involvement. These types of discussions and conversations are not unfamiliar to us and may take a long time to materialise, so our approach is to take a long term view and invest in these relationships.

Read more: Yulia Iosilzon’s groundbreaking new show in London

Based in Singapore, we are well-positioned to meet and serve Asian collectors in the region. Over the next decade and even in present times, it has been said that there will be unprecedented levels of wealth transfer in Asia. Given our first mover advantage and as we continue to grow and widen our international network, FOFA is ready to help families look after and manage their passions or alternative assets such as fine art and collectibles.

 

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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

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Part of a VR series that Beeple released for free public use. Courtesy of W1 Curates

Mike Winklemann, AKA Beeple, shot to fame after his digital artwork EVERYDAY: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS became the first ever purely non-fungible-token (NFT) to be sold at Christie’s, and was auctioned off for just shy of 70 million dollars in cryptocurrency. Darius Sanai spoke to the artist at his solo show at W1 Curates in Oxford Street, London

LUX: There is a lot of societal commentary in your digital artwork. Do you set out to do that, or is it something that develops?
Mike Winkelmann (Beeple): I guess I set out to do it. Im trying to predict things that are going to be issues in the future, or trends that I see developing now. This piece is talking about Natanz. Basically, the US didn’t confirm this, but it was speculated that they blew up the Iranian nuclear reactor. This is talking about how, in the future, I think there’s going to be  more warfare like that where they get into a computer system and f*ck some sh*t up.

If this is the first instance of a computer programme being used to physically blow things up, I don’t think it will be the last. I think it will happen more and more. It’s terrorists getting into a computer system to blow up an electrical plant. I think more things like that will happen.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Can you tell me about your ‘Everydays’ piece?
B: These are ‘Everydays’ in motion, where I made a picture each day and then occasionally I’d think it might be interesting if I animated it. I would take maybe 3 or 4 days and animate a little 15-second scene of that picture. This was a picture of when Trump locked himself in the White House. This was when Elon [Musk] had his baby, and named it X Æ A-12.

Some of them are not specifically about something. That one was during coronavirus when people started talking about killer hornets. This is just some weird Michael Jackson meme. And so on.

LUX: When you started back in the 2000s did you consider yourself a graphic designer, an artist, a filmmaker, or something else?
B: I considered what I was making to be art, just regular art, no different from anybody else. I was just using a different medium. But I considered myself a designer, because the way I made money was through solving visual problems for people. People were asking for concert visuals for Lady Gaga, or concert visuals for the Superbowl. So I’d take the brief of XYZ and say “okay, I’ll do that.”

LUX: So, it’s a practical application?
B: I know the tools; I can build you whatever you want. You tell me what to do and I’ll do it. I did it for money and that was it, while I put most of my real energy into work where I could do whatever I wanted.

The more of this work that I put out there for free, the better I got, until clients like Louis Vuitton were contacting me. It was really like I was a designer by day and also carving away a large amount of time to do my own work, that I wasn’t trying to sell, there was no concept of people collecting it. Art is just something you make and put online and people experience it and that’s it, and it was quite a shift when people began to start collecting it. That was just not a part of the way I thought about art.

Panel talk with Beeple (Mike Winkelmann), Nick Knight from Showstudio and Mark Dale from W1Curates. Courtesy of W1 Curates

LUX: What enabled these to become collector pieces?
B: The NFTs. The NFT thing, which took a lot of people coming up to me and saying, I think you should check this out. At first, I wasn’t sure, I thought it was just weird crypto sh*t, not my thing. Then finally it clicked and I thought, wait a second, this could be the same as moments in the past where people have refused to believe something was art. Photography, that’s not art, it’s just people taking photos. Graffiti, that’s not art, it’s vandalism, how could it be art? Then everyone says “oh wait! I guess it’s art.”

I think that’s what is about to happen with digital art. At the moment it’s this thing that everybody knows and everybody sees all the time and is actually completely ubiquitous in the visual language of our society. It’s websites, it’s voices, it’s TV, it’s video games, everything you see is visual. Art has touched it, but it’s not capital A art, because until recently, there wasn’t a meaningful way to collect it. You could print it out, you could give somebody a thumb drive, but that didn’t really resonate with people until the NFT thing. The ability to prove ownership resonated with people.

LUX: Is there a tension between the traditional capital A art world and the world of digital art?
B: 100%, yes. I think people in the digital world think that because we had the sale at Christie, we’re part of the art world now. In reality, there’s a lot of people still calling bullsh*t on us; we’ve got a long way to go to convince everybody that we’re the real deal.

It’s come a long way in 2 years, I will say that, much faster than I thought. A couple of years ago I would have believed it would have taken us 10 years to get to where we are now. It’s a matter of waiting for it to click for people that the stuff they take for granted, because it’s so ubiquitous, is actually made by people. It’s not that different from painting a picture.  You’re sitting down, you’re producing a picture, it’s got a message, it’s got an aesthetic, it’s the exact same thing.

LUX: Yet many people resist calling it art. Why do you think this is?
B: I think it is just very new, it came out of nowhere. I was as dumbfounded as anyone by these developments. But I think when people have an experience that connects with them emotionally, like any other type of medium, any other type of art, then it will click with them. But they see the headlines and they see “monkey JPG selling for crazy amount” which makes it easier to call bullsh*t on the whole thing. There’s a lot of distinction between the different things people are doing in the NFT space, with some people looking towards a more baseball-type, collectible thing rather than the art side of things. Then there are people who are trying to make serious work that, in my opinion, is no different from any other artist working in any other medium.

Beeple’s Everydays, the First 5000 Days. Courtesy of W1 Curates.

LUX: Is there not a lot of bullsh*t in the traditional art world as well.
B: Yes, but everybody’s used to that bullsh*t. Also, there are so many people who think NFTs look like crap. Most traditional art looks like crap, you just can’t see it as easily. You can go online and instantly see hundreds of NFTs, but you can’t immediately see hundreds of pieces of traditional art – if you did, you would see a lot of crap I’d promise you that. Or you would see a lot of stuff which looks fine but isn’t new in any way. It’s just the same regurgitated ideas that are 100 years old. It looks more like what you would expect art to look like, but it’s not good. I could make some abstract art that anybody would agree is art,  but it doesn’t matter, that’s not good. I think I’m trying to make things for 100 years from now. I think a lot of traditional art is trying to make something that looks like art right now, and half the time it looks like it would have been made 100 years ago.

LUX: Do you think in 100 years people will look at this, you and others, and think this is an inflection point where it changed, just like things changed with Duchamp?
B: We will see. I don’t know, but I think this is definitely a different moment. I think it will be seen as an inflection point because you’re going to see a massive shift as digital tools and digital distribution become more a part of art, because those advance rapidly, they will continue to advance rapidly with technology. I don’t know a lot about painting but I’m not sure how much it has changed in the last 100 years through technology.

LUX: Does this fit better in the Metaverse?
B: What do you mean by the metaverse? I don’t even know what that means, it’s just a marketing term.

LUX: The space where you can go buy a computer rendition of a Dior gown and put it on an avatar and pay for it. I mean, that’s just the beginning right?
B: Except none of those worlds exist. How much time do you spend in the metaverse?

LUX: Not me, but other people do.
B: No they don’t. If you look at these platforms, nobody is spending any time in them, because they’re not engaging enough. It’s like VR. How much time do you spend in VR? Zero.

I’ve gone all over the world many times and heard people talking about the metaverse, but then they don’t spend any time there themselves. It’s like VR. Fun for 2 seconds and then you’ve done it and you move on.

I don’t think it will always be like that, but I think the first thing we will all consider the metaverse is AR glasses. That is what I think we will consider the first true metaverse is, when all of us are wearing glasses and we can all see a layer of things that are the same, when we can all see a digital sculpture right here, and we can walk around it and we all can point to it, and you see what I’m seeing. Everybody being jacked into VR in a tube of goo, that’s a waste.

Courtesy of W1 Curates

LUX: A traditional collector would buy a painting and put it on their wall. How is this art best displayed?
B: Almost all of the pieces that I have now come with some sort of physical element. Some of them are titanium back-screens, and others are like paintings or giant prints, or these human size boxes. A lot of the pieces have physical components like that because to me it’s important to have a physical way to experience the work. To me, it makes it much more visceral and much more impactful.

LUX: Are attitudes towards digital art changing?
B: Yes, things are changing a lot. We just had Deji Art Museum in China buy a piece, there are pieces at MoMa right now, you’re seeing a bunch of museums invest. I think when people see work that can withstand criticism and has some actual depth to it, then they’ll change their mind.

But it is taking time. I think people who are truly thoughtful and are approaching it with an open mind, with the attitude that they don’t know everything about art and this could be something new that they want to be a part of, those people are coming around very quickly. But that’s not everybody. People have to change their mind of what this is, and that doesn’t often happen quickly.

LUX: And you mentioned street art and graffiti before. Is there a parallel with what happened there 30 years ago where that wasn’t considered art?
B: 100%, I think it’s the exact same thing. I look at this work as the street art of the internet, because you can post anything you want there’s this free for all thing. All street art is trying to get people’s attention, the street part of it is “permissionless” art where they were going out and thinking, I’m not going to get anybody’s permission to do this, I’m just going to do it. That’s how I’ve always operated. I don’t need anybody’s permission to show this, I made it, I put it on the internet, that’s it.

That’s very different from the traditional art world where you make a piece of art, then you’ve got to wait for a gallery or a museum and somebody’s got to look at it and say yes, I will show that. Nobody has to say yes on the internet.

More from Beeple’s VR Series. Courtesy of W1 Curates.

LUX: How did you engage with art when you were a kid?
B: I went to school for computer science. As a kid, I didn’t do a massive amount of art on the side. I was always doing a lot of stuff on computers. At first I wanted to make video games, but then I got to college and I saw some people who wanted to make video games, and I realised I didn’t want it that badly. I was spending all of my time making weird little abstract clips that had no inherent purpose; they were just little tiny artistic expressions.

I was spending my time making short films too, and so to begin there was no sense of wanting to get people to collect my work or making a living off of it. I actually really liked the fact that I didn’t make a living off of it because it meant I could say whatever I wanted. I never cared about commercial art, I just wanted to make people happy. So I had a good separation there, I could say whatever I wanted without thinking about whether this is something someone’s going to hang on their wall. Because a lot of it is not something you want to hang on your wall, to be quite honest.

LUX: The world is getting weirder and worse. Does that help your work?
B: I don’t think it’s getting worse, but I think it will get weirder. That’s also why I make this sh*t weird; because people think that could never happen. But Donald Trump was just your f*cking president! A man-child with no experience who is paying off porn stars. 20 years ago you wouldn’t have said that could happen.

Read more: Visual art and music meet in Shezad Dawood’s latest exhibition

I look at what happened with me and this crazy $70 million sale. That was honestly a weird bi-product of the conversation about art and digital art, and then crypto with nothing to do with art coming into it. As technologies combine like that, in ways we didn<‘t expect, weird things happen. It’s similar to Trump being elected and the role social media played there. Social media comes and everyone thinks it’s great and Mark Zuckerburg is a f*cking hero, liberating all these people. Then time goes on and you think, wait a second, we didn’t see this coming.

That will probably keep happening. There’s gonna be things we didn’t see coming and it can have massively profound effects. The world is so connected now and so digital already; these things can happen so fast. Suddenly millions of people get behind an idea or a movement. I mean, look at the NFTs. Again, we went from zero to being this billion-dollar industry in months. I think weird things are going to happen more and more.

Courtesy of W1 Curates

LUX: Would you like to be recognised by collections who don’t recognise digital art? Is that important to you or do you not care?
B: Yes, I would like to change their mind. I’ve been trying to help educate people in the traditional art world because I think there’s a lot of people in the crypto world who don’t actually care about art. Their allegiance is to crypto, my allegiance is to art.

I just learned about crypto 2 years ago, and I learned about NFTs literally months before that sale. The traditional art world also has a lot of people who, in my opinion, are not in it for the right reasons, they’re just in it for money. But there’s a lot more people who are truly passionate about this, who truly want to see art evolve and are interested in the continuation of art history and contextualising this moment within it.

I’ve been trying to play in both worlds to some extent. There’s a lot more that can be done in terms of NFTs and art being more dynamic. There’s a lot more to come.

Find out more: www.beeple-crap.com

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An artwork of a man wearing a stethoscope
A man wearing a suit sitting in front of a green piece of art

Alan Lo

The restaurateur, collector and leading figure in the Hong Kong art scene on who’s hot, what’s not, and why Singapore may soon be the next Asian art hotspot

LUX: You have been involved in the art world in Hong Kong for around 15 years. How has the scene changed there during this period?
Alan Lo: Hong Kong has become one of the most important art hubs in the world, on a par with London and New York. With Art Basel and M+, as well as local non-profits such as Asia Art Archive, Para Site and Design Trust, it is truly one of the best places to see art and buy art.

LUX: Are Hong Kong and China producing as many interesting new artists as 10 years ago?
AL: Things are a little complicated lately with social unrest followed by Covid, but I still see amazing new talent emerging. Hong Kong artist Ng Wing Lam is one of my latest acquisitions.

An artwork of a man wearing a stethoscope

Untitled, 2020, by Arjan Martins, from the collection of Yenn and Alan Lo

LUX: Is there a move away from the “Western eye” in recognising artists from the region, or to be successful does an artist still need to be rated by collectors in the US and Europe?
AL: Contemporary art should be borderless. Think of artists Chris Huen Sin-kan and Wu Tsang, who show and are collected globally. As much as China and Asian collectors are on the rise, in the near term the US and Europe are still very influential, so it is important for artists to participate in projects with Western institutions.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Which living artists internationally will be as remembered and sought after in 50 years time as the early 21st-century greats?
AL: Danh Vo, Mickalene Thomas, Shinro Ohtake, Rirkrit Tiravanija.

LUX: Hong Kong is highly digitised. How is digital art interacting with conventional art?
AL: Digital art is very now and Hong Kong is very much at the forefront. From digital art fairs to the level of interest in NFT art among collectors, new and established, these are signs of the significance of this new medium.

Skyscrapers in Singapore

Singapore’s bay area by night

LUX: The art-market peak has been called many times over the past 10 years. Will it peak?
AL: Who knows!

LUX: Is there a new generation of collectors making the art market and new artists in their own way, and is that interesting for you?
AL: For sure. Especially in China, we see the emergence of the very young who are buying very well and very quickly. It is definitely a new phenomenon that is here to stay, I think.

LUX: Is the influence of Singapore in the art world likely to increase? Why has it not done so today?
AL: The collector base is quite small today, but with the influx of capital and talent into Singapore, the city state is already seeing change in the scene, and Art SG debuting in January 2023 will be a catalyst.

A painting of two people driving in a car and one is standing up naked

Bakk, 2022, by Cheikh Ndiaye, from the collection of Yenn and Alan Lo

LUX: Will what you do help stimulate a ground-up art movement in Singapore?
AL: I’m just an insignificant collector, but I do hope to see more artist- and curator-led spaces to make scene more interesting.

Read more: Adrian Cheng On Brands To Watch In 2023

LUX: In 10 years time, will collectors and enthusiasts visit Singapore for its art scene?
AL: There is the potential. Its ecosystem already has Singapore Art Museum (SAM), Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI) and National Gallery Singapore. I’d like to see more collector-driven and foundation spaces, as well as non-profits.

LUX: Name your five most interesting artists in the world right now.
AL: Oh de Laval, Wahab Saheed, Soimadou Ibrahim, Wu Tsang, Sarah Cunningham.

Find out more: @alanyeungkit

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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two men in white clothing

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Ali Jassim

One is an artist and the other a financier, but in coming together to create a charitable foundation, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and patron, Ali Jassim have also found themselves blurring boundaries and creating art together, discovers Mark C. O’Flaherty

The relationship between artist and patron is one that has formed part of the bedrock of creative endeavours for centuries. The links between the Medici and Michelangelo defined Renaissance Italy with a complexity and intimacy far more than any of Brunelleschi’s domed architectural gestures, or the fictitious romance of Romeo and Juliet. Masterpieces simply flowed from the marriage of painter and family. Similarly, Peggy Guggenheim freed up Jackson Pollock to create his grand abstract-expressionist canvases through a $150-a-month contract between 1943 and 1947, from Mural, the piece he created for her Manhattan townhouse, to his first major drip-technique masterpiece, Full Fathom Five. Right now, artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and financial advisor, philanthropist and entrepreneur Ali Jassim are exploring what an artist and patron can achieve in the 21st century. Both men have Iranian heritage (Jassim’s on his mother’s side), with Behnam-Bakhtiar based in France and Jassim in Puerto Rico.

abstract painting with blue green red

‘Garden of the Soul’ At Dusk, 2020

When I speak to Behnam-Bakhtiar, it is via Zoom and he is in bed, functioning at half speed
after contracting Covid from his wife and child. “It’s okay, it’s just boring,” he says, sitting up to talk enthusiastically about what he was working on before the virus landed, and what comes next. Much of that will involve his relationship with his patron and now partner in philanthropy, Jassim, as they establish the Jassim Bakhtiar Foundation in Monaco, to help children in Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and the region. “We are doing our first fundraiser next year, in the south of France,” says the artist. “We want to have a huge impact. The language of arts and culture can create momentum and bring on the right people together for a cause, but this isn’t just about donating a few thousand dollars, we are looking at tens of millions.”

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The pair met around 10 years ago, at an exhibition in London. “We immediately knew we shared many of the same attributes, purely as human beings,” says Behnam-Bakhtiar. “Of course, we both have an Iranian heritage, but we found that we share core values. He was an art collector, and we talked a lot about my theories and philosophy, and he wanted to know where I wanted to go with my work. Then as he spends some time in Cap Ferrat, near where I am, we started talking more about Iran and the orphans of the conflict, and we decided to look at creating a foundation. But our relationship is about more than that. I believe we share experiences from past lives. We talk for about four hours on the phone every day. He likes to come and get his hands dirty in the studio, too, and the dynamic goes both ways: I’ve also become an advisor to him in his business endeavours.”

abstract painting with black green reds

From the ‘Garden of the Soul’ series, At Midnight, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Jassim is a fascinating character, who has worked extensively with high-profile figures in the business world of the Middle-East and Europe. “When I first met Sassan, I felt an inexplicable connection. Then, over the years, as I found myself growing emotionally and spiritually, I began to understand it was a connection beyond explanation, beyond science and mathematics. It is a feeling that spans many lifetimes,” he says. “I believe the greatest teacher we have in our life is our own soul. Sassan and I both believe this, and we often take time aside to connect and meditate multiple times a week. I would love to live in a world one day where I feel I’ve had a positive impact and where respect is present across the world throughout races and religions, most importantly for Mother Earth. Difference is what we want to portray on the canvas through the art we are creating, but the goal is unity.”

abstract painting with mix of colours

From the ‘Garden of the Soul’ series, Love Always Prevails (detail), 2020, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Behnam-Bakhtiar has spent years exploring meditative practices as part of his work, grounding himself with Kundalini principles and, as he says, “focusing on my chakras and accessing dormant power”. He describes a William Blake-style revelatory moment of seeing bright colours after getting deeply into meditation, which fed through to how he creates his work. Many of his canvases have a romantic Monet-like quality to the florals, but also look like pixelated glitches on a monitor. Behnam- Bakhtiar tells me his peinture raclée technique is linked directly to his meditation: “When you strip layers of yourself away, you go inside yourself. I wanted to shut off external layers so I could feed the frequency of my soul. That promoted health and wellbeing and had a profound impact on me. So that’s what I started to do with my painting. I began to scrape off layers. And that physical process takes about six months, even for a relatively small painting. I play with the paint. The consistency of it is crucial. I need to wait after I’ve applied it so that it dries to a certain degree, at which point I can scrape it off to get the texture I am seeking. It is a technique that was born through meditation.”

man with sunglasses against a painting

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar at the unveiling of ‘The Journey’, 2022, presented by Ali Jassim

As well as exploring meditative practices and laying the groundwork for their foundation (the HQ of which will also house Jassim’s impressive art collection, putting Behnam- Bakhtiar canvases alongside work by Renoir, Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol and Richard Prince), the pair have been working on a collection of paintings entitled ‘The Journey’. Although the imagery has the same abstract beauty for which Behnam-Bakhtiar is renowned, it is also some of the most political and personal he has done in years, with skulls and crowns manifesting themselves in the mixture of oils, acrylics and crushed stone.

abstract painting with lines in different colours

From the ‘Garden of the Soul’ series, At Sunrise, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Years ago, Behnam-Bakhtiar worked in the medium of photo collage, and the subject matter was overt. Born in Paris in 1984, he grew up in post-revolution Iran against the backdrop of the Iran-Iraq war. One way of dealing with his traumatic experiences, which included imprisonment and life-threatening episodes, was to address the politics of Iran through imagery in works such as the 2016 series ‘This Way’, which features My Favorite Kinda Soldier is This Way and Tehran is This Way – the latter incorporating a collage of a figure with a gas mask and a dress of Iranian carpet pattern. Subsequently, as he practised meditation, it came to feature in his methodology, and his work became more visually romantic.

yellow blue abstract painting

From the ‘Garden of the Soul’ series, At Peace, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

In everything Behnam-Bakhtiar does, there is the resonance of his trauma in Iran. War and its impact on the human psyche are common and essential themes in contemporary art. In 2022, one of the most talked-about installations at the Venice Biennale was Anselm Kiefer’s work that took over the vast walls of the Sala dello Scrutinio in the Doge’s Palace. The series of paintings, entitled ‘Questi scritti, quando verranno bruciati, daranno finalmente un po’ di luce (‘These writings, when burned, will finally cast a little light’)’ created a devastating immersive tableau incorporating blasted landscapes and remnants of clothing. With war raging in Ukraine, it felt apposite, but almost intolerably graphic and moving. I ask Behnam- Bakhtiar why his reaction to trauma is to create beautiful imagery, rather than aggressive pieces.

abstract painting with fuchsia red and blue colours

Trees of Paradise, 2019, by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

“That’s probably the best question anyone’s asked me,” he says. “It’s been a very important value in my work. And I’ve had the privilege of being in group shows with Kiefer. My life has been filled with traumatic experiences. Back in the day, I would sit with some of my idols, who were older Iranian artists and friends of mine, and ask why we always had to paint sad things. And I knew the answer, of course – the art world wants us to show women in a hijab and show the sufferings of our people. The collages I used to do, that was when I had lost the plot. I had an exhibition in London and showed that work; it was about the children who were part of the war. Then I created another series, ‘The Real Me’, which was around the time we were all portrayed as bearded terrorists. I wanted to show that, despite the Islamic revolution, we lived like anyone else. I’d had enough of seeing sad work. Even if I start from a dark piece, it always ends up being beautiful. You can see the hurt, but I also want you to see the transformation in it, to bring hope and strength and love.”

white walls with two pink paintings

‘Extremis’, Setareh Gallery, 2019

When Behnam-Bakhtiar talks about his patron “getting his hands dirty”, he means literally. Jassim has been working with him in the studio and, while he is operating under the artist’s direction, he has been physically making his mark on the canvas. The physical connection to the work is important for both of them. “What we are doing with the foundation together is so important,” says Behnam-Bakhtiar. “And this is a unique dynamic, for an established artist to work with someone who isn’t a painter. But I want him to have visual input. And I will credit those pieces to both of us.”

Read more: Domaine Clarence Dillon: L&#8217;Art de Vivre

With the duo also developing NFTs as part of their output, as well as building the Jassim Bakhtiar Foundation together, the potential for what began as a straightforward patron-and-artist scenario is limitless. The High Renaissance brought us Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel, created with as many as 13 assistants and the infinite resources of the Vatican. With every advance in technology, and a will to use art for much more than religious decoration, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Ali Jassim could create unimaginable wonders.

Find out more: sassanbehnambakhtiar.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 8 min
Man standing in front of painting

Durjoy Rahman with Kiefer’s Cell (Diptych) (1999) by Atul Dodiya. Courtesy of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Bangladeshi entrepreneur and art collector Durjoy Rahman is on a mission to make the world a better place through artistic dialogue and cultural collaborations between artists from the Global North and South. Rebecca Anne Proctor reports

It was mid March 2021 and the world was slowing waking up from a long sleep after the global lockdowns and travel restrictions that had been enforced to curb the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Dubai, the megalopolis Gulf city, was already open and it was kicking off with Art Dubai, one of the first in-person art fairs the art world experienced in the past year. As big art-world personalities flocked to the United Arab Emirates, so too did a rising star from Dhaka, Bangladesh – Durjoy Rahman. The art collector and textile and garment entrepreneur used the occasion of Art Dubai to present one of his latest art initiatives that uses contemporary art to champion social issues. The Dubai Design District featured a large-scale installation of elephants by Bangladeshi artist Kamruzzaman Shadhin and Rohingya craftspeople from the Kutupalong refugee camp. Titled Elephant in the Room, it made its international debut in Dubai. The work, unmissable by those visiting the futuristic Dubai Design District, originated in the desire to forge a dialogue about human and environmental displacement. The Rohingya are a stateless Muslim minority in Myanmar’s Rakhine state thought to number around one million people who remain unrecognised as citizens or as one of the country’s 135 recognised ethnic groups by the country’s ruling party. By exhibiting a work with the involvement of Rohingya people, Durjoy hoped to draw attention to their cause.

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From the Indian subcontinent, the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation (DBF), founded in 2018 in Berlin and Dhaka, is one of a handful of collector-led foundations in South Asia working to support creatives, the majority of which have been set up during the past decade. There’s the Bengal Foundation, founded in 1986 and based in Dhaka, which acts as a non-profit and charitable organisation; the Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Cosmos Group conglomerate; the HerStory Foundation, a not-for-profit that supports gender equality through storytelling, illustration, design, and dialogue; and the Samdani Art Foundation (SAF), a private arts trust based in Dhaka, founded in 2011 by collector couple Nadia and Rajeeb Samdani. In neighbouring India, several collector-led foundations have sought individually and collectively to foster India’s rich art scene. These include the Gujral Foundation, founded by Mohit and Feroze Gujral; Kiran Nadar Museum, founded by collector Kiran Nadar; and the Devi Art Foundation, founded in 2008 by Anupam Poddar and his mother, Lekha Poddar. In Pakistan, the Lahore Biennale Foundation and the Como Museum of Art, the country’s first private museum of contemporary art that opened in 2019, are notable.

elephant sculptures

Elephant in the Room (2018) by Kamruzzaman Shadin and Rohingya craftspeople from the Kutupalong refugee camp, installed at the Dubai Design District in 2021. Courtesy of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Despite the region’s fast-growing economies, major gaps between rich and poor still exist, as does a lack of infrastructure and funding for arts and culture. Art foundations such as the DBF have been pivotal in supporting artistic research and practice. What defines these foundations, which are critical to the expansion of modern and contemporary South Asian discourse, is their ability to take risks and to experiment. For a world increasingly defined by borders, this approach is crucial and one that Durjoy has not taken lightly over the past several years. Cultural awareness and collaboration has been key to his vision for the DBF’s mission.

His support for the exhibition ‘Homelands: Art from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan’, which opened at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge in 2019, is a case in point. Through sculpture, painting, performance, film and photography, the exhibition told the stories of migration and resettlement in South Asia and internationally, engaging with the painful memories of displacement and the challenging notion of ‘home’ following the Partition of India and Pakistan in 1947 and the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.

hanging textile artwork

Gbor Tsui (2019) by Serge Attukwei Clottey. Courtesy of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Passionate and energetic, Durjoy never stops, not even during a global pandemic. In a year when many art collectors, galleries and institutions had to do business at a slower pace, Durjoy was busier than ever in Dhaka. The textile entrepreneur, who runs the Bangladeshi garment and textile-sourcing business Winners Creations Ltd, was actively staging new exhibitions, online and live, to support his foundation. Its mission is to promote art from South Asia and beyond, part of the so-called Global South, to forge a critical dialogue within an international context.

Cultural exchange, particularly between artist and arts practitioners from South Asia and beyond, is paramount to the DBF’s vision. Its recent projects, such as ‘No Place Like Home’, a Rohingya art exhibit consisting of Shadhin’s Elephant in the Room and pieces created by Rohingya refugees living in the Kutupalong camp in Bangladesh, aim to raise awareness of the plight of displaced communities, is just one of many that Durjoy and his foundation have initiated over the past three years.

Read more: In the Studio with Idris Khan

“Art creation can keep the conversation going on important issues,” said Durjoy from his office in Dhaka. “The Rohingya crisis is an example. When it first took place, the news was everywhere. Now, three years on and it doesn’t make the headlines. Through exhibition art made by Rohingya we can keep the conversation alive and hopefully it will result in some change.”

Durjoy, who since 1997 has been collecting art with a strong focus on supporting artists from Bangladesh and South Asia, has long believed that artists from the sub-continent haven’t been given the recognition they deserve on the global stage. The first work he bought was by Bangladesh Modernist Rafiqun Nabi, a famous cartoonist and visual artist known for his creation of the character Tokai, a street urchin. “He produced this character to show the everyday struggle in Bangladeshi society,” explains Durjoy. “He used Tokai to express his visions about what was happening around him. I have been a big fan of his ever since I was young.”

sculptures on a table

art collection

Works in Durjoy Rahman’s collection include Le Baron Fou (2009) and La Baleine (2014) by Novera Ahmed (top), (below, on the wall) Gasp (2013) by Charles Pachter and (sewing machine) 100 Years Old (2018) by Tayeba Begum Lipi. Courtesy of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Durjoy now has more than 70 works by Nabi in his collection of 1,000 or more works of South Asian and international art by the likes of David Hockney, Lucian Freud and Bangladeshi modernists such as Safiuddin Ahmed, as well as South Asian antiques including Ghandharan art and works from the Pala Dynasty dating from the 9th to 11th centuries in Bengal. His collection exemplifies his worldly interests, his love of art and other cultures, and his desire to bring artists from around the world together in unison and creative dialogue. Since his first purchase of Nabi’s work, he has sought to support and collect works by emerging and established Bangladeshi artists in particular, which has become the prime objective of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation.

Over the years, Durjoy noticed a shift in attention from the global art community towards what was taking place in South Asia. “The heightened curiosity towards the East and what is taking place has influenced many artists from the sub-continent to produce works that are more socially charged, that illuminate post-colonial thought and impressions and the continual struggle with notions of identity and statehood,” Durjoy explains. In 2018 he finally took the plunge and established his own foundation with the mission to further the visibility of artists from the Global South – those, as he says, who are often disadvantaged, who don’t come from areas with much art education or infrastructure. Durjoy staged projects, art residencies and exhibitions that support his cause and, importantly, foster creative and cultural dialogue between the artists of South Asia and other areas in the Global South with those elsewhere in the world.

Read more: Helga Piaget on educating the next generation

“I sensed that there needed to be a platform that could represent artists from South Asia as I felt they had not yet been recognised internationally in the way that they should have been,” he says. He admits that at first it was challenging, given his hybrid role of collector and director of a foundation. “It might have looked in the beginning like I was trying to promote the artists in my collection, but then I realised that I could work with artists who were not already in my collection and whose practice and work I appreciated. I truly believe we need to play a more important role in shaping the art system originating from the sub-continent and making a bridge between South Asia and Europe.”

Durjoy first set up a base for the foundation in Berlin in 2018. He was advised on the decision by well-known art advisor Marta Gnyp, known for her work with contemporary African artists. “I admire Durjoy’s curiosity, open-mindedness and his ability to learn extremely fast,” said Gnyp. “This, in combination with the ambitious, focused and very well structured programme of his Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation, makes him one of the forces that will shape the future of the South Asian art world.” Later that year Durjoy set up the office in Dhaka where he now has a team of 10 people working for the foundation. He launched his initiative with the unveiling of his donation of Indian artist Mithu Sen’s powerful and nostalgic installation MOU (Museum of Unbelongings) (2011–18) to the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg in Germany as part of their permanent collection. “This was how we made the announcement of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation, by having Sen’s installation mark one of the first times that a work by a South Asian artist who happens to be female is in the permanent collection of a European institution,” he adds.

installation artwork

MOU (Museum of Unbelongings) (2011-18) by Mithu Sen. Courtesy of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

This gift to the Kunstmuseum followed a serendipitous meeting between Durjoy and Dr Holger Broeker, head of the collection and senior curator there. Earlier that year, the museum had staged ‘Facing India’, a show marking the first museum exhibition in Germany to present works by women artists from India. The works included in the exhibition, by Vibha Galhotra, Bharti Kher, Prajakta Potnis, Reena Saini Kallat, Mithu Sen and Tejal Shah, questioned the idea of borders of all kinds, whether political, territorial, ecological, religious, social, personal or gender-based. Broeker and Durjoy met by chance one evening in Berlin at GNYP Gallery. “When I asked him about the focus of his collection,” remembers Broeker, “he told me about his project to promote art from the Bangladeshi region and India in Europe and America, and that he himself had already exhibited Western art in Bangladesh in return. He wanted to intensify this idea of cultural exchange within the framework of foundation. An extraordinarily intensive and fruitful communication developed between us and Durjoy donated Sen’s magnificent work to us for our collection.”

Sen’s powerful installation forms the beginning of the Kunstmuseum’s Indian art collection, which now includes works by Tejal Shah, Gauri Gill and Prajakta Potnis. Uta Ruhkamp, the museum’s curator, said, “Mithu Sen finds an international but unconventional visual language that reaches beyond markers like nationality, religion, wealth, skin colour, caste, family, education and language that people use to distinguish themselves from others in both ways, whether feeling superior or inferior. Sen’s installation contains a personal collection of objects and artworks from all over the world. She curated it her way, creating ‘joint’ artworks by combining objects, narrating stories, and suggesting a colourful world free of hierarchies. No label, no categories. It is a global statement, the vision of a world that does not yet exist.”

man speaking into microphone

Artist Serge Attukwei Clottey with his work Gbor Tsui during the exhibition ‘Stormy Weather’ at Arnhem Museum. Courtesy of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Durjoy, an entrepreneur, lets nothing get in the way of his goals. The number of projects, exhibitions and residencies his foundation has staged in just over three years is startling and impressive. One is example is DBF’s support of Ghanaian artist Serge Attukwei Clottey in the production of a large artwork featured in the 2019 exhibition ‘Stormy Weather’ at the Arnhem Museum in the Netherlands on the theme of climate change and social justice. After the show, Clottey’s work entered the museum’s collection.

Testament to Durjoy’s desire to support artists in need are two initiatives he launched during the pandemic. One is called Bhumi, which was a collaboration with the Gidree Bawlee Foundation of Arts aiming to help rural communities that make crafts, art and land art. The other programme is Future of Hope, for which Durjoy asked nine artists to create work in response to present global challenges. The works were displayed at the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation last October 2020. “The crux of Durjoy’s mission is to raise awareness of the Global South and supporting and promoting emerging and established artists from that region, but to do so in dialogue with artists from other places around the world,” said Iftikhar Dadi, artist and a professor in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University in New York. “I love his energy, dynamism and openness.”

light artwork

Shapla from the series ‘Efflorescence’ (2013-19) by Iftikhar Dadi and Elizabeth Dadi. Courtesy of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

One example of Durjoy’s mission to raise awareness of such artists is the 10-year Majhi International Art Residency Program. ‘Majhi’ in Bengali means boatman or the leader or guide. He is the one, explains Durjoy, who steers people on the boat on a certain course. “My vision is to take artists from South Asia and the Global South to Europe every year to work with artists there so that they can exchange thoughts and ideas.” The first edition of the Majhi International Art Residency took place in Venice in 2019 and the 11 artists selected included Dilara Begum Jolly, Dhali Al-Mamoon, Rajaul Islam (Lovelu), Noor Ahmed Gelal, Uttam Kumar Karmaker, Kamruzzaman Shadhin, Umut Yasat, Chiara Tubia, Cosima Montavoci, Andrea Morucchio and David Dalla Venezia. They are from different regions of the world: six were born in Bangladesh, one is of mixed Turkish and German heritage, and four are Venetians. During their stay, the artists were invited to reflect upon the question: “Does life in these uncertain times of crisis and turmoil make art more interesting?” The question was a response to the title of Ralph Rugoff ’s 58th Venice Biennale that year, ‘May You Live in Interesting Times’. The first residency resulted in a dialogue of works that achieved exactly the aims of the foundation, with the artists choosing the title of the final exhibition.

The residency continued in Dhaka as part of the annual 15th Contemporary Art Day organised by the Association of the Italian Museums of Contemporary Art and supported by DBF. ‘The Scent of Time’ exhibition was hosted at Edge, The Foundation and featured work by the residency’s artists.

artist drawing in front of canvas

artist at work

The Mahji International Art Residency in Venice, 2019, with artists David Dalla Venezia (top) and Umut Yasat. Courtesy of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Durjoy recently acquired a second work by Morucchio for his collection, a digital print on aluminium titled Merlyn. Durjoy says he was attracted to the artist’s work that drew attention to the dangerous effects of mass tourism in Venice, the subject of Morucchio’s project ‘Venezia Anno Zero’ documenting the serenity of the city during lockdown.

“Majhi, the boatman, travels from one destination to another – just like the artist going to the residency, he does not stop in one fixed place,” explains Durjoy. While 2020 posed numerous challenges, Durjoy made sure the Majhi residency continued. “When 2020 closed the world, we didn’t stop,” he says. “Because we already have a strong presence in Berlin, we decided to stage to residency there as part of Berlin Art Week.” The residencies, like Durjoy’s multifaceted vision, always involve numerous factors. For the Berlin exhibition, he invited a food and music collective to enliven the venue.

Read more: Gaggenau’s Jörg Neuner on embodying the traditional avant-garde

The foundation is now gearing up for its next location, Eindhoven in the Netherlands in October 2021. The theme is ‘Land, Water and Borders’. While Durjoy admits it is a challenging topic, it is ultimately one that reflects the present post-colonial struggles the world continues to experience. He says that, like the residency in Berlin, they will incorporate sound and acoustics into the residency that will take place during the Dutch Design Week. “It’s important that we make everything current,” he adds.

Durjoy’s cross-cultural efforts to elevate artists from South Asia are also apparent in his foundation’s recent partnership with the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam, where international artists join a residency programme with an emphasis on experiment and critical engagement. “The objective of this partnership is to promote the exchange between artists from South Asia and the international artists’ network of the Rijksakademie and the strengthening of the position and visibility of artist from South Asia,” explains Susan Gloudemans, the Rijksakademie’s director of strategy and development. The first Fellowship is for Rajyashri Goody from India, who started her residency in September 2021. Rajyashri has been selected from 1,600 artists from 115 countries for one of the 23 residency positions available. The Fellowship covers the living expenses of the artist and is a direct way of contributing to the professional development and breakthrough of a promising artist. “The importance of DBF’s support of the Fellowship programme goes beyond the individual artist,” Gloudemans adds. “We know from experience that this line of support will increase the participation of other artists from the region in the Rijksakademie programme and that the local art scene in Bangladesh and South Asia will be able to benefit from the exchanges and collaborations that result from it.”

group of people standing underneath arch

Durjoy Rahman with the artists and curators from the residency’s 2019 edition. Courtesy of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Durjoy’s passion and endless enthusiasm for his foundation’s mission is contagious. A silent artistic revolution seems to be taking place in Dhaka and Berlin, one that is urging artists and arts practitioners to become more open-minded in their approach and vision through artistic and creative dialogue. These are results, as Durjoy knows, that can only come about when people from various cultures and nations are brought together to speak, work and learn from each other. In March 2021, the DBF hosted ‘From Here to Eternity’, a one-day online symposium looking at topics such as gender, sexuality and race in relation to art and photography; the transnational consciousness in cities of the UK, North America and India; and artistic responses to social and political change. Along these same themes was DBF’s support for renowned Indian photographer Sunil Gupta’s show ‘From Here to Eternity: Sunil Gupta. A Retrospective’ at The Photographer’s Gallery (TPG) in London in 2020–21. “Given the scarcity of cultural organisations promoting the work of visual artists from the Global South, the Durjoy Foundation is filling an important vacuum within cultural relations,” says Francesca Pinto, the director of business development at TPG.

The North-South divide is a present reality reflecting centuries of colonialism, tensions and political feuds. If trauma is inter-generational, then to heal the resulting pain means looking at its origins, and Durjoy’s work through DBF attempts to make past wounds less painful through an understanding and recognition of the other through art. It starts, as he is demonstrating so passionately, by raising awareness about challenging socio-political and economic subjects. As he puts it: “When the headlines no longer carry these stories, then art can continue the narrative.”

black and white street photographs

portrait of man by fence

Images from Sunil Gupta’s series ‘Christopher Street’ (1976) from Durjoy Rahman’s collection. Images courtesy the artist and Hales Gallery, Stephen Bulger Gallery and Vadehra Art Gallery. Copyright Sunil Gupta. All Rights Reserved, DACs 2021. Courtesy of Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

How to define the Global South?

There is still much discussion over how to define the ‘the Global South’, a term coined in the late 1960s but being increasingly used today. The concept of the Global North and Global South (or North-South divide) describes a grouping of countries according to socio-economic and political characteristics. The Global South usually denotes lower-income countries, once referred to as Third World countries, while the Global North is often equated with developed or First World countries. However, this distinction can be misleading. Nations in the Gulf of Arabia, for example, are in the Global South but can be characterised as Global North countries. “During the Cold War we had the Third World model, which referred to the first world, second world and third world,” explains Ifkhtiar Dadi, a professor in the Department of the History of Art and Visual Studies at Cornell University. “Since the 1990s, the Global South has emerged as a working definition to look at the realities of these regions over the past 30 years since the end of the Cold War. I feel it is the most neutral and effective term today but the critique against it is that it evacuates the politics of an unequal world.”

As borders continue to be disputed despite an increasingly globalised world, the ideas of ‘home’ and ‘belonging’ continue to be questioned. Dr Devika Singh, a curator of International Art at Tate Modern who specialises in art from South Asia, illuminates the paradigm in the book Homelands: Art from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, published to accompany the exhibition of the same name at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge, UK. “The notion of homeland belongs to the realm of the imagination and to seemingly distant, yet constantly revisited, pasts,” she writes.

“It also belongs to our present times of suffering and anxiety often spawned by national borders. The imposition and safeguarding of borders disrupt not only the long histories of human movements and exchanges, but also shared pasts, languages, and cultures. Displacement, whether forced exile or voluntary expatriation, and the notions of home and nation, therefore, appear intrinsically connected.”

Find out more: durjoybangladesh.org

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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hotel bar
hotel bar

Over a century after Vincent van Gogh moved to the Provençal city of Arles with the intention of setting up an artists’ commune, Maja Hoffmann, Swiss art collector and founder of the city’s contemporary art centre LUMA, is reviving his dream with l’Arlatan, a hotel and artist residence occupying a 15th-century palace. Filled with more than a million handmade, glazed ceramic tiles in vivid shades of yellow, tangerine, lavender and blue, the historic building has been transformed by Cuban-born American artist Jorge Pardo into an inhabitable piece of art. LUX Contributing Editor Maryam Eisler photographs its kaleidoscopic surfaces

curved stone staircase
swimming pool
lounge area of hotel
swimming pool
vase of flowers
ceramic tiles in bathroom
colourful hotel restaurant
colourful glass bottles
hotel bedroom
light fixtures hanging in stairway
hotel room with tiled floor
courtyard restaurant

Book your stay: arlatan.com

 

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Auctioneer Oliver Barker directing Sotheby’s global e-auctions. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

Following the announcement of Sotheby’s Cologne office, artnet’s Vice President and LUX columnist Sophie Neuendorf discusses shifting collecting habits and the potential for Germany to become a key player in the art world

The recent news that Sotheby’s is opening an office in Cologne, Germany has made waves internationally but also ruffled a few feathers within the German market. However, given the ramifications of Brexit, which is making import and export transactions much more cumbersome, it’s hardly a surprising decision. Christie’s has been steadily strengthening its presence Paris over the last few years and Amsterdam is much smaller in terms of buyer opportunities so the EU’s largest country in terms of size and economic strength seems the logical choice for Sotheby’s.

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According to the auction house, “German collectors remain essential to Sotheby’s business, featuring in the list of top ten countries most actively buying and selling in Sotheby’s sales for the past three years.” In this light, it’s hard to imagine that the aim of the opening is centred solely around the potential of new collectors, but what is of interest is the abundance of private collections in Germany, which provide ample opportunities for acquiring unique and unseen masterpieces.

Germany is renowned for its impressive history of supporting the arts, from fine arts to music or literature. Many of the most important art collections worldwide are located in Germany, and quite a few of these marvellous collections will be handed down to the next generation before too long.

pop art exhibition

Neuendorf Gallery pop art exhibition 1964 in Hamburg, Germany.

“The German art market is outstanding in Europe with its strong collectors on the one hand and its internationally sought-after artists on the other,” comments Alice von Seldeneck of Germany’s prestigious Lempertz auction house. “After Brexit and the uncertainties and costs associated with it, it was a logical conclusion to establish another foothold on the continent. We had expected this to happen much sooner.”

Read more: The art of cross-collecting by Philip Hewat-Jaboor

According to artnet data, German collectors have historically favoured Impressionist and Modern art, closely followed by Post War and Old Masters paintings. Now, these same categories are tied to tedious export rules and regulations, newly introduced by Germany’s culture minister (ostensibly to protect Germany’s cultural heritage), which are suppressing international trade. The fourth most popular collecting category is Contemporary Art, which is much easier to buy and sell internationally. With the rise of the new millennial generation of collectors, perhaps the German market is primed for a shift in wealth and collecting habits?

graph showing art sales

Infographic courtesy of artnet

Germany ranks 4th in terms of sales in western countries after the United States, the United Kingdom, and France (source: art net). “In 2020, 40% of German bidders were new to the company, while the number of German buyers in online sales tripled, ” revealed a spokesperson from Sotheby’s. With many of Europe’s hottest emerging artists flocking to Berlin, it’s only a matter of time until the country becomes a hot spot in terms of Contemporary and Ultra Contemporary art.

“Berlin is an ideal combination of a strong primary and secondary market with different generations of collectors,” says von Seldeneck. “The strong consignments from abroad show us how highly regarded the German art market is internationally.”

graph showing highest paid artists

Infographic courtesy of artnet

The city is a place of inspiration for many creatives from around the world as reflected by the plethora of blue chip galleries that have recently opened in the German capital. Four of the world’s top earning artists – Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, Anselm Kiefer, and Frank Auerbach – are also Germany-based. But will this rise in popularity be reflected in actual sales and growth of the market?

Read more: The gastronomic delights of Suvretta House, Switzerland

According to Berlin-based gallerist and former BVDG (German Association of Galleries) board member Klaus Gerrit Friese, the entry of Sotheby’s into the German market is a testament to the country’s strength and potential for growth. “I’m very positive about the future of the German art market. The new generation of gallerists have developed radically new ideas about viewing and selling art, which goes hand in hand with the rise of millennial collectors. So, the real potential lies in the Contemporary and Ultra Contemporary market, where I have observed a lot of upward movement in Germany over the past few years,” he says.

While Germany seems primed to become one of the world’s most important countries in terms of both creativity and sales, it remains to be seen whether the coming generational change and shift in collecting preferences will propel the country into the upper echelons of the market.

Follow Sophie Neuendorf on Instagram: @sophieneuendorf

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exhibition installation
exhibition installation

Robilant + Voena at Masterpiece London 2019, photography Ben Fisher, Courtesy Masterpiece London

In his final column for LUX, art collector, advisor and chairman of Masterpiece London Philip Hewat-Jaboor shares advice on collecting art, and pairing contemporary and antique objects

My belief is that we all have the urge to be surrounded by beautiful objects, and this has only been intensified by our time spent in lockdown. When we are living with things we love, we have a sense of place and stability that enhances our lives and brings so much pleasure and enjoyment.

I was introduced to the wonderful world of collecting, and specifically cross-collecting, by my grandfather who carefully mixed Chinese ceramics with British sporting pictures and English furniture in his home. These three specialist collections came together to form balanced and unified interiors that have continued to inspire me.

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Collecting and displaying historic artworks and objects alongside contemporary pieces is a trend that can be traced back to ancient Roman times. This is evident, for example, in the great collections put together by the Medici family, which can still be seen in the interiors of the Palazzo Pitti in Florence and the acquisitions by King George IV in the early 19th century also epitomise the richness to be found from cross-collecting (part of his extraordinary collection is currently on display at the Brighton Pavilion, re-installed in the original sumptuous interiors). This is also the way I like to collect personally, with carefully curated combinations, enriching the whole.

man surrounded by art

Philip Hewat-Jaboor at home in Jersey, 2019, photo Danny Evans, Courtesy Philip Hewat-Jaboor

 

How do you start collecting?

The art world can sometimes appear baffling and opaque, but don’t let this put you off. Visit museums, art galleries, auction houses and art fairs. The most important thing is to look, and continue to look. Discover what excites you and why. Is it the history of the piece? Are you drawn to a particular material, to  contemporary pieces or to more traditional fields?

Put aside the current fashion of separating contemporary art from the traditional – this is a modern distinction, which I personally believe limits our imagination. That said, the contemporary art world provides the opportunity to engage with the artist or designer, and to understand and learn from them first hand.

Build a relationship with a trusted dealer or advisor. They are knowledgeable and passionate, eager to share and there is no better way of learning. Read as much as you can, and most importantly buy with your heart.

What makes a good work of art?

Why is one work more desirable than another? I ask myself about the overall integrity of design (if a three dimensional work), the quality of the material and how well it is used, and the craftsmanship. To me a measure of great design is demonstrated be being able to scale an object up or down in size without loss of its integrity. The condition of a piece plays an important role, and it’s important to look for original surfaces on furniture and sculpture, concealed damage to ceramics, and ensure that works are not over cleaned. Look for signs of conservation rather than restoration. However, less than perfect condition should not be a deterrent if the work is particularly rare or unusual. Provenance (who owned the work previously) is vital both from the point of view of reinforcing authenticity but it can also tell a story and add to the piece’s desirability. In my opinion, a great work of art is both beautiful and intellectually rewarding.

Read more: Why the Swiss village of Andermatt is designed for living

lamp and objects on a table

Oscar Graf at Masterpiece London 2019, photography Ben Fisher, Courtesy Masterpiece London

How much is it worth?

It can sometimes appear difficult to establish value. There are numerous ways to search for comparable pieces online, however, this does not give you a complete picture; every work is different (they are not like shares), you cannot judge condition nor the circumstances of a previous sale, which can give rise to both inflated and low prices. One of the positive outcomes in the growth of online selling platforms is an increased transparency about prices.

Do your homework, but ultimately, it comes back to trust and buying from reputable sources. Many of the works I treasure the most are those which were a financial stretch to acquire, but I have found myself repaid a thousandfold in pleasure.

How do you display artwork in your home?

Thoughtful display plays a crucial role is showing works to their best advantage and creating a dialogue between them. As a favourite of mine, the early 19th century cross-collector William Beckford said, “Everything depends on the way objects are placed, and where. Horrors in one place discount beauties in another.”

I have been taking advantage of my time at home this year to really look closely at objects in my collection. I also regularly move works around. For example, I placed a contemporary alabaster bowl by Stephen Cox next to a recently acquired Egyptian unguent vessel that was made some two and half thousand years earlier, but the pieces are identical in material and the pairing has given rise to a wonderful conversation between two diverse works. Beautiful objects resonate with other works of beauty. Too many people are afraid of scale; works that you might feel to be too large often hold a room. There is no need to be timid. Decoration should be conceived to enhance how we sees works of art and not be a diversion.

Buy what you love and look for beauty, take good advice, do your own research and don’t worry too much about the cost which is soon forgotten!

Philip Hewat-Jaboor is Masterpiece London’s Chairman of the Fair. Read his previous column here

Masterpiece Online, sponsored by Royal Bank of Canada, is taking place from 24-27 June 2021. For more information visit: masterpiecefair.com

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Reading time: 5 min
art gallery exterior
art gallery exterior

Pace Gallery’s new space in Palm Beach, Florida

As part on an ongoing monthly column for LUX, artnet’s Vice President Sophie Neuendorf discusses the cultural shifts caused by the pandemic and forecasts the future shape of the art industry

Sophie Neuendorf

Prior to the pandemic, city life was often synonymous with a thriving arts and culture scene. Most of the world’s major cities offered a plethora of  national and international galleries and museums to tempt tourists and locals alike, alongside the global rota of art fairs and biennials. It was an exciting ecosystem that was supported by constant stream of international art lovers and collectors.

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However, as James Tarmy recently wrote in Bloomberg, the pandemic has radically changed the status quo and has been vastly more painful to museums and nonprofit art organisations than to commercial galleries. The main reason for the disparity, he explained, is that “buying art is mostly a private activity; seeing art is much more communal.” His article reveals that sales have remained surprisingly robust at multiple levels of the market, from modestly sized dealers like James Fuentes and François Ghebaly to blue-chip galleries like David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth. The rapid pivot to online sales are largely responsible last year’s robust sales, with $10.1 Billion spent on fine art sales in 2020 (Source: artnet Price Database). Private sales have also proved resilient— perhaps not surprising, given that the collective wealth of America’s 651 billionaires, for example, has increased by $1 trillion since the start of the pandemic. Strong interest from millennials, who squirrelled away vast amounts of disposable income amidst the lockdown, and robust activity from Asia are further fuelling demand.

When it comes to projecting the art industry’s timeline for full re-emergence from lockdown, it would be wise to note not only the rate of vaccination as a benchmark, but also the psychological impact and cultural shift initiated by the pandemic. For example, countryside living is having a renaissance, fuelled by remote working. While previous generations were drawn to cities for work and leisure alike, the restrictions of our global lockdown have bought about a counter-reaction to city life. A shift to working from home, zoom calls, and decreased business travel support this change. But what does this cultural shift mean for the art industry? How will galleries, museums, and institutions respond to collectors’ migration away from the world’s major cities?

rural art gallery

Hauser and Wirth Somerset

As restrictions in movement and social distancing measures continue, more and more galleries, artist residencies, and institutions are finding homes in coastal towns and the countryside, opening up spacious, Covid-19 friendly spaces to attract collectors in a safe space.

Read more: Philip Hewat-Jaboor on discovering art through materials

Last summer, already saw an increase in pop up gallery spaces in popular destinations such as the Hamptons, Aspen, St Moritz, and Mallorca. Hauser & Wirth was ahead of the trend with its opening of H&W Somerset and this summer will see the launch of a new space in Menorca, and  in Monaco. Similarly, Pace Gallery is expanding within Seoul, as Asia is recovering more rapidly from the pandemic in comparison to European countries. The gallery is also catering to its Western clients who are migrating to coastal towns, by opening up spaces in East Hampton and Palm Beach.

As more and more galleries are responding to the “new normal,” a hybrid model will most likely develop. Taking advantage of the increased collector confidence in online transactions, galleries as well as auction houses will be able to connect with their clients online, while also opening up Covid-friendly spaces in more rural locations.

rural art gallery

Hauser and Wirth Menorca is scheduled to open in July 2021

The drama of quarantine also opened up previously unlikely collaborations between fairs, dealers, auction houses, and even luxury brands. For example, Bulgari sponsored Sotheby’s Old Master Week in January, outfitting the auctioneer and staff in the brand’s jewels. I suspect we’ll be seeing many more partnerships of this kind as well as auction-art-fair hybrids like Christie’s recent project with the 1:54 contemporary African art fair or Johann König’s ‘Messe’ in St Agnes.

The incredible innovations rapidly developed during the pandemic—from live-streamed sales to a rolling battery of online offerings—are here to stay. Industry insiders and experts are predicting a surge of post-lockdown activity, but physical openings and exhibitions will continue to be complemented by online sales. The art industry has definitely changed, but I’m hopeful for what comes next.

Follow Sophie Neuendorf on Instagram: @sophieneuendorf

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Reading time: 3 min
artwork in a lobby
artwork in a lobby

A colourful neon installation by Jason Rhoades in the home of German art dealer David Zwirner

Art collector and author Tiqui Atencio is the founder and chair of the Tate Latin America Acquisition Committee and a trustee of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation amongst numerous other philanthropic arts and culture organisations. As part of our ongoing philanthropy series, she discusses her latest book, the importance of collecting art and her efforts to promote Latin American artists

Tiqui Atencio

LUX: How did you come up with your idea for your book For Art’s Sake?
Tiqui Atencio: The idea for my second book, For Art’s Sake was born whilst I was writing my first book, Could Have, Would Have, Should Have. For me, it was a natural progression. After visiting the homes of the collectors that I interviewed, I decided I wanted to write a book with photos about art dealers. I wanted to see how they lived in their homes with the artists they represent and collect. I wanted it to reflect their passions, motivations, pursuits, adventures, and personal choices.

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LUX: ‘Heroic commitment’ or ‘crazy silliness’ – how is collecting art different from buying art?
Tiqui Atencio: Buying art can be different from collecting if the intention of the person buying the work is different from buying to form a collection, or increase one. Motivations and objectives are very varied. Some are committed collectors that go the extra mile to get what they want, others are not as passionate or dedicated. I would never describe it as silliness or craziness; it’s more like a steadfast passion.

art book cover

The cover of For Art’s Sake by Tiqui Atencio, published by Rizzoli New York

LUX: How do you gain the trust to access these private homes with the team?
Tiqui Atencio: Most of the dealers I approached and interviewed were either trusted friends or people I had met through the art world at different occasions over the years, sometimes having bought from them myself.

Read more: Lamberto Frescobaldi on 1000 years of tradition and wine

LUX: From your interviews, what essential principles guide an architect or designer in showcasing a collection?
Tiqui Atencio: I believe that a good designer or architect will take into consideration the taste of their client in art, their collecting patterns, and preferences in lifestyle and choices in home living.

LUX: Among the homes you have visited, do you have any personal favourites?
Tiqui Atencio: Every home and collection had a certain angle of attraction, and I can’t say I had a favourite one, but being originally Latin American I could have moved in Luisa Strina’s home in São Paulo with only a toothbrush.

artwork hanging in living room

Lucian Freud’s Annie, a painting of the artist’s eldest daughter from 1962, hangs above a sofa upholstered in William Morris “Acanthus” print in Iwan and Manuela Wirth’s home in the Scottish Highlands

LUX: How do you think your own approach to collecting has changed over the years?
Tiqui Atencio: At the beginning, when I was very young, I was buying what I liked without too much information. With time and experience, I buy with more caution and research, but still following my heart and instincts.

LUX: For Art’s Sake integrates with your other roles within art philanthropy, what are you most proud to have achieved with its publication?
Tiqui Atencio: I am very proud to inform the readers of my books about the sense of sharing, giving and philanthropic commitment to the art world that most collectors, through their collecting practices have given to humanity. Their sense of responsibility, their generosity and their role in promoting art and culture.

Read more: How women artists are reshaping art history

LUX: What inspired you to become Chair of the Tate Latin American Acquisition?
Tiqui Atencio: I was part of an effort to increase the holdings of Latin American Art for the Tate. The intention was to promote the art and artists from the region of the world where I was born. So, I came up with the idea of forming a committee who would be willing to support this initiative, and that is how the Latin American Committee for Tate came to life.

contemporary art hanging

Platypus, 2009 by Amy Sillman in the home of British art dealer and collector Ivor Braka

LUX: Have you found that the pandemic has affected art buyers’ attitudes?
Tiqui Atencio: Yes, personally I am buying less. I am longing to go back to the fairs and auctions of the past to see and feel the emotions and excitement of falling for a work of art. I have bought online, but not often and I can’t say it’s the same experience.

LUX: Do you think the pandemic has affected fine artists’ creativity?
Tiqui Atencio: I believe the pandemic has affected us all in some way – positively and/or negatively. With time, it will be interesting to see what comes out of this challenging moment. I am a positive thinker and I do believe we will come out better than we think – same with artists!

LUX: What is your favourite period of art?
Tiqui Atencio: I confess it’s mid-century Latin American Art, but my taste is very eclectic and varied and in my collection, there are many periods and styles.

Find out more: tiquiatencio.com

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Reading time: 4 min
digital art auction

Auctioneer Oliver Barker directing Sotheby’s global e-auctions. Courtesy of Sotheby’s.

As part on an ongoing monthly column for LUX, artnet’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Sophie Neuendorf forecasts this year’s emerging trends and evolutions in the art world

Sophie Neuendorf

We’ve just emerged from arguably the most difficult and unpredictable year in recent history. The Covid-19 pandemic caused a synchronised and deep downturn of the global economy in the first six months of 2020. Social distancing measures and a lockdown of businesses in reaction to the health crisis resulted in falling consumer demand and economic output. Skyrocketing unemployment shook consumer confidence, and companies cut back on investments in light of declining demand, supply-chain interruptions and the uncertain future.

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Amid the uncertainties and restrictions caused by the pandemic, fine art auctions plummeted in the first half of 2020. Total sales value dropped across all major regions. According to the artnet Price Database, global auction sales for fine art fell by 59% to $2.9 billion in the first half of 2020 compared to a more robust performance of $7 billion in the first six months of 2019.

art world graph

Infographic courtesy of artnet

However, despite a 29% decrease in both the number of lots offered and sold at auction year-over-year, the global sell-through rate remained steady at 65% in the first half of 2020. Major auction houses pivoted to online platforms, generating some incredible virtual transactions. In June, Sotheby’s sold Francis Bacon’s Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus (1981) for $85 million. Roy Lichtenstein’s White Brushstroke I (1965) achieved $25 million.

Even though 2020 will most likely be remembered as one of the most unpredictable and difficult years in modern history, it also pushed boundaries and accelerated the art world into the digital age. With this backdrop in mind, I’m going to take the risk and make 7 art world predictions for the year 2021 – because, if anything, last year has set the stage for some ground-breaking changes to aspire to.

1. Digitalisation is here to stay.

Plato was right: necessity is indeed the mother of invention. During the COVID-19 crisis, one area that has seen tremendous growth is digitalisation, meaning everything from online customer service to remote working to supply-chain reinvention to the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to improve the art business. As I discussed in my last column of 2020, the digitalisation of the art market is here to stay. With galleries, museums, and auction houses pivoting online and thinking outside the box in response to the pandemic, a positive trend of accessibility, efficiency, and transparency accelerated within the art world. This also goes hand in hand with a global trend of sustainability and conscious living.

Naturally, an online viewing of art can never quite replace the in-person experience, nor should it. The impact of seeing Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa online is, of course, not quite the same as admiring it in person. However, the transactional element of the art market will emerge as a strong contender to the traditional brick and mortar purchasing process, democratising the art market and opening it up to a new generation of art lovers.

2. Some art fairs will actually happen this year. But they will be a balanced, online/offline experience.

With social distancing still de rigueur this year, it will be difficult for fairs to accommodate their usual amount of art-loving and people-watching visitors. Add to that a gallery’s sky high participation costs, especially after a difficult year, and we’re looking at only very few fairs happening in 2021. My conservative prediction is that those of us able to travel can look forward to visiting ARCO Madrid (which has been postponed to July), Art Basel in Basel, Volta Basel, Frieze London, FIAC Paris, and Basel Miami, at best. The rest of us will have to enjoy the virtual editions of these fairs again this year.

Read more: COMO Group CEO Olivier Jolivet on travel trends for 2021

3. Galleries will evolve as serious contenders to art fairs and traditional auction houses.

Gallerists have always been of utmost importance as a bridge between the creative genius of an artist and the wider public of art lovers and collectors.

This year, galleries who have embraced the innovation which the Covid-19 pandemic necessitated will emerge stronger than ever. Either through online sales and viewing rooms or through collaborations with other galleries and institutions, these art dealers will rise as serious contenders to brick-and-mortar auction houses.

4. Some young artists will start bypassing galleries and begin selling directly out of their studio via social media or other websites.

It’s already a widespread practice among young artists in Asia and I foresee it crossing over to Europe and the US this year. With countless galleries, unfortunately, having been forced to close over the last year, many artists may have become increasingly accustomed to selling via social media and other websites. Especially young artists may be inclined to bypass the traditional route expected of them by the art world, and chose to build their careers independently.

pop art

Roy Lichtenstein’s White Brushstroke I (1965) was sold by Sotheby’s for $25 million. Image courtesy Sotheby’s

5. Socio-economic issues will be at the forefront of major gallery and museum shows this year.

Artists have, historically, documented moments of change and upheaval. After a year that has compelled us to come to terms with a global pandemic, has seen us fight for equality during the Me Too and BLM movements, as well as confront global warming, now’s the time to examine these pivotal moments within gallery and museum shows.

The arts are known to push boundaries and open up discussions around difficult and oftentimes painful subjects in a spirit of tolerance, curiosity, and learning. I believe that galleries and institutions will harness this unique moment to exhibit artists who are capturing the zeitgeist.

contemporary art

Francis Bacon’s Triptych Inspired by the Oresteia of Aeschylus (1981) was sold for $85 million at auction by Sotheby’s in June 2020. Image courtesy of Sotheby’s.

6. There will be more fine art works sold at auction this year than over the last few years.

Given the global economic and private difficulties we are currently facing, it wouldn’t be surprising if the IRS, a divorce attorney or the grim reaper force the sale of many a private collection. It’s a rather gruesome prediction, but historically the art market has been very active during a time when some micro or macro-economic situations are under stress.

Looking at Deloitte’s Art & Finance report or artnet’s Intelligence Report, fine art has gradually emerged into a serious asset class. When you compare fine art sales to the S&P, for example, more often than not it is art which is a safer alternative asset than stocks or even real estate. It is highly likely that many artworks will find speculative buyers this year, as economic changes and challenges will cause a shift in wealth.

Read more: Visual artist Clara Hastrup on her studio experiments

7. There will be a major shift in the market resulting in a new focus on quality rather than quantity.

Life was moving along as rapidly and frivolously as usual during the months before the Covid-19 pandemic forced us into seclusion. It struck me even then that the art world was moving into an unhealthy direction, where being seen at a champagne reception was more important than the quality of work on display. Where people-watching at Frieze or Basel was far more interesting than any oeuvre, and gossiping about people or prices trumped any serious deliberations of the works on view.

However, the past year has forced all of us to focus on what’s truly meaningful within our lives and on how fleeting it actually is. How do we really want to spend our time? Do we actually have to visit all of those art fairs and events? Perhaps we should seize the moment and focus on those artists and personal interactions that really enrich our lives.

This may seem like a rather wild prediction, but I’m certain that only those galleries, fairs, and institutions will survive that really concentrate on bringing added value to our lives. Perhaps we will move to a ‘new normal’ where multiple editions of the same fair or gallery are unnecessary, but are, instead, complimented by an incredible and easy to access online offering. Now is the time to excite with quality, depth, and innovation – because time is precious.

art world infographic

Infographic courtesy of artnet

8. Art will not only evolve as an asset class, but also as a financial product.

Over the past few years, art has slowly evolved as a serious contender to assets such as gold, stocks, or real estate – and it is arguably a much more stable asset. Given the high barriers to entry into the art market, specifically to the high-returns, blue chip market, I predict that there will be a derivative product developed soon, to be traded on the market similarly to other indices.

Price indices offer important insights for anyone looking to track the performance of a collection of artworks produced by a single artist or movement. At artnet, for example, we already provide an innovative price index methodology that relies on the unique strength of our flagship product, the Price Database. Our proprietary method creates indices that track the evolution of artwork prices over time, which can be tailored to focus on artworks belonging to a specific medium, movement, size, or any combination thereof, and in comparison to other indices, such as the S&P. It’s only a matter of time until the exchange traded derivative is developed. Stay tuned!

Follow Sophie Neuendorf on Instagram: @sophieneuendorf

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Reading time: 8 min

Artworks by Erwin Wurm installed in Cafe de Flore, Paris

Art historian Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem is the founder of the Parcours-Saint-Germain-des-Prés, a yearly contemporary art festival in Paris, and the B&C art and culture member’s club. She is also the co-founder of Spirit Now London which organises exclusive art events, and a board member of numerous cultural institutions across the globe. As part of our ongoing philanthropy series, she speaks to Samantha Welsh about supporting rising artists, the challenges of her work and plans for 2021

Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem. Image by Sonia Fitoussi

LUX: When did you first begin to support emerging artists, and what motivated you?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: I come from a family of art collectors and experts. I was born in Limoges into the Haviland family, a family of porcelain manufacturers. My mother was an art restorer. It is a family tradition to support artists and to become really good friends with them. Haviland, for example, worked with Wassily Kandinsky, who made a tea set for them.

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I first began to collect artists in 2000. The first show I curated was of the photographer Ange Leccia at the Armani shop in 1999. I bought four pictures with my first salary. I then started to collect the artists that I was exhibiting in my annual art show, Parcours Saint Germain, which I founded in Paris twenty years ago.

This exhibition presents about thirty artists in each edition, whom I chose amongst the projects that I like the most and of which I gather a few pieces.

More recently, I have started developing a collection of abstract paintings and I am trying to focus also on women artists like Suzan Frecon and Vivian Springford.

installation art

Sabine Pigalle and Philippe di Meo at Celine as part of Sweet Art, the 2007 edition of Parcours-Saint-Germain-des-Prés

LUX: Is there anybody in the philanthropy world who particularly inspires you?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: As an art historian I have always been admiring of all the important philanthropic families such as the Medici family. When I was working at the Centre Pompidou at the beginning of my career I realised how much public museums have been depending on private collectors. Many artworks in museum’s collections come from private donations, sometimes a private collection is the starting stone of building a whole museum.

I also witnessed the creation of collections such as the Fondation Cartier, Louis Vuitton, François Pinault as well as the birth of their private foundations and the opening private museums for the public.

I am also a big admirer of Patricia Sandretto and Frederic Jousset, and of philanthropic initiatives that help young artists and support education and diversity such as Fluxus Charity or Art Explora.

A sculpture at the 2007 edition of Parcours-Saint-Germain-des-Prés

LUX: What originally brought you to found the B&C Club?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: I had the idea of creating a club when I was living in France seven years ago, acting as a board member of the Tokyo Art Club of the Palais de Tokyo. I used to create programs around the current exhibitions and the artists exhibiting for the patrons of the museum. As soon as I moved to London I wanted to create a more international group and to offer my members the possibility to go everywhere. I thought that founding a private project which also raises funds for art and museums would enable me to offer a more diversified program.

Read more: Life coach Simon Hodges on how to break free from destructive behaviour

LUX: What exactly does the B&C Club do, and how did you ensure you get optimum results?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: The club is a private group of patrons, art collectors, intellectuals and open minded people, for which I organise very privileged access to artists’ studios, galleries, museums, art centres but also to eminent curators, museum directors and art historians. For me the key is the assurance of high quality visits and the excellent curating of all the speakers. I look carefully at what is going on in the world and I pick the artists, designers, and curators who I fundamentally believe have something different to say.

LUX: What are your proudest achievements?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: An encounter and talk between Antony Gormely and Idan Segev, an internationally renowned neuroscientist from the Edmond & Lily Safra centre for Brain Sciences of Jerusalem.

LUX: Do you enjoy participating in Fluxus Art Projects? What originally brought you there?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: The former cultural attaché of the French Institute in London approached me as soon as I moved to London to be on the board of Fluxus and its artistic committee. I enjoy it a lot, it is a fabulous feeling to be at the source of the future talents and help them achieve their goals.

LUX: How much of your time does it take?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: It takes a lot of time to read all the different projects and to prepare the two annual board meetings. I would say it takes a third of my time at the moment.

Read more: Keith Breslauer on combining business & charity

LUX: Do you have some specific examples of artists who have benefited?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: Ed Atkins, Ryan Gander, Ulla von Brandenburg, Zineb Sedira, Laure Prouvost and Camille Henrot (currently showing at Lisson Gallery) among others.

LUX: What are the biggest obstacles and challenges you have faced?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: The first lockdown was complicated because my job entails a lot of travelling and organising events with groups, but I immediately signed up to a Zoom pro account and started organising webinars.

LUX: How will COVID-19 affect what you do?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: It is still a challenge particularly in Paris for the Parcours Saint Germain, with my sponsors in fashion. So the main idea is to do the best as I can, work a lot, redesign the web portals, organise webinars, send newsletters articles, and wait and see.

Dior windows by artist Stephane Calais, 2002

LUX: How would you encourage people like you to get more involved in non-profit organisations that support the arts?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: Every event is an opportunity to communicate to my network the need of private initiatives in culture. A great example is a talk we had with Sandra Hegedüs and the Sam Art Projects in conversation together with Catherine Petitgas.

LUX: Any other advice for our readers who might be considering going into the sector?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: Crises often give birth to new opportunities. Keep your eyes and ears open.

Read more: A new honey-based concept restaurant opens in Selfridges

LUX: What led to you co-founding Spirit Now London?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: Spirit Now was the first group, and B&C the second. The main difference between the two groups is that I am the only owner of B&C and its program is more open to philosophy, literature and current affairs.

Installation of work by French photographer Natacha Lesueur as part of Sweet Art, the 2007 edition of Parcours-Saint-Germain-des-Prés

LUX: What does your role as director of the B&C Club entail?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: I am both the owner and director of the club. I curate the whole program, contact artists, collectors, curators, gallerists, museum directors and writers, sometimes from all over the world and invite them either to come to London for a talk, a webinar or a visit. We organise art trips as well.

LUX: What about B&C’s direction, as we head into 2021, what are you most excited for?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: I am creating an international category for the club called B&C Reports – there is a new page on our website. I have invited a curator based in Rio de Janeiro to write articles about his favourite artists which I regularly post on my blog. We also organise webinars with these artists based all over the word. We select them together, record them and post all the webinars. We are also signing partnerships with different institutions to help them support the arts and to develop strongly their philanthropic side.

LUX: Can you tell us a bit about your aim for your new project in 2021 with Parcours-Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris?
Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem: We have very ambitious projects for the Parcours 2021. As the current situation limits visits indoors in all of the places where we traditionally exhibited them (Louis Vuitton, Armani, Hotel Lutetia and Café de Flore), we have decided to program a variety of outdoor installations. We are working on a huge installation with the international artist JR and  the students of the famous school for cinema Kourtrajmé which will be produced and installed on the place Germain des Prés. Another project is to create colours and patterns on the pedestrian pathways with Carlos-Cruz Diez, who was a teacher at the School of Beaux Arts and had his studio in St Germain des Prés.

As we wanted to include architecture in our program, we have also invited the Architectural Association and a collective of young architects from Place Furstenberg. Our opening event will be outdoor with chefs and food-trucks, and will aim to combine photography, design, sculpture, fashion, photography, street art, street food and art all together.

Find out more: thebc-club.com

Samantha Welsh is a contributing editor of LUX with a special focus on philanthropy.

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luxurious interiors

An artwork by Minjung Kim installed over the fireplace in the residential side entrance lounge of the Waldorf Astoria

LUX Contributing Editor Simon de Pury is also an auctioneer, art dealer, curator, photographer and DJ. He was most recently commissioned to curate a collection of art for the newly restored Waldorf Astoria in New York, which will open to residents in 2022. Here, he discusses the project’s concept and challenges, and his favourite places to see art

Simon de Pury

1. Where does your curatorial process generally begin?

Once the topic of an exhibition is defined you go about making in your head your dream selection. The minute this is done you answer as many practical questions as possible in order to produce a cost estimate and a timeline. The rest is all implementation.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. Can you tell us more about your concept for the Waldorf Astoria?

The concept for the Waldorf Astoria was dictated by its own history, and by the design that Jean-Louis Deniot had conceived for it. It was the owner’s wish to work entirely with original works done specifically with the space in mind.

blue abstract art

An artwork by Philippe Decrauzat from the Waldorf Astoria collection.

3. How do you see the artworks interacting with the building’s architecture and history?

The proof will be in the pudding. Both the owners and the designer wanted artworks that would blend seamlessly into the Art Deco architecture of the building and the interior design that had been devised for it. They gave a clear preference for subdued colours and abstract works.

abstract art

An artwork by Benjamin Ple from the Waldorf Astoria collection.

4. What’s the most challenging aspect of this particular project?

There is an abundance of rising artists in the world, so narrowing our focus to a select few was certainly a challenge, and a luxury.

Read more: Richard Mille’s collaboration with Benjamin Millepied & Thomas Roussel

5. If you had to choose one piece from the collection, what would it be and why?

I have a particular fondness for the work of Minjung Kim. Her technique is uniquely refined and her work combines her Asian cultural heritage sensibility with a feminine sensibility. I like every work she has done for the Waldorf Astoria and would be hard-pressed to pick one.

grey mountains

Mountain by Minjung Kim from the Waldorf Astoria collection

6. Where’s your favourite place in the world to see art?

Basically wherever I happen to be. I love seeing art being lived with in private homes. My favourite museum is the Neue Galerie in New York. The quality of the art is breathtaking and the scale is intimate enough to make you feel as if you are in a private home.

Find out more about Simon de Pury’s work and the restoration of Waldorf Astoria: waldorftowers.nyc

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collage artwork
collage art

The Power Of Black And White, Dennis Osakue, Acrylic & Collage on Canvas, 150cm x 150cm, 2020

Signature African Art, one of Nigeria’s leading contemporary art galleries, opened its first European location in Mayfair, London in March this year and is now hosting a group exhibition entitled Say My Name in collaboration with award-winning writer and film director Ava DuVernay. Ahead of the show’s public opening tomorrow, we speak to the gallery’s director and curator Khalil Akar about the Black Lives Matter movement and power of visual art 

man in suit

Khalil Akar, Photo © Zaki Charles

1. What influenced the gallery’s decision to expand internationally, and why London in particular?

We have been supporting the work of African artists for the past 30 years, since opening the gallery in Lagos. We have been waiting for the right opportunity and the right time to open a space outside of the continent. Over the past few years, African art has become increasingly popular and having assessed the global art market, we felt this was the best time to open in London. We chose London as it is one of the art hubs of the world. We wanted to give our artists a platform to showcase their talent to the European market and we felt the UK was the best place in which to do so.

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2. How have global attitudes towards African art changed in recent years?

The global art market has finally started to recognise the contemporary talent that exists within the continent, outside of traditional art forms. We have seen increased sales of African art at auction houses, and fairs like 1-54 Contemporary African Art have helped to encourage a greater interest in art from Africa. The next step for the market would be to have a larger presence of African galleries in household fairs such as Art Basel.

collage of faces

George Floyd, Oluwole Omofemi, Acrylic on Canvas, 50cm x 50cm each, 2020

3. The timing of the gallery opening was rather unfortunate, how has the pandemic impacted business?

We opened a solo show by Nigerian artist Oluwole Omofemi just before lockdown, which was very popular by collectors and sold out. We have worked hard to adapt to the current circumstances and challenges, increasing our digital networking and outreach to collectors and providing virtual tours of our exhibitions to our audiences. The additional digital approach has allowed us to reach more collectors and increase sales.

contemporary art gallery

Installation view of Say My Name, presented by Ava DuVernay at Signature African Art, London, Photo © Mora Ltd

4. What was your curation process for the upcoming group show Say My Name and how did the collaboration with Ava DuVernay come about?

The curatorial process was rooted in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The vision was to shine a light on things that need to change in society including how Black people are perceived and treated in the global community. Ava and I discussed this theme at length for Say My Name, which also aligned with the topics raised in her 13th documentary for Netflix. The collaboration also focused on raising awareness of police brutality following Ava’s announcement of her LEAP (Law Enforcement Accountability Project) initiative, which aims to hold police in the US accountable through artistic storytelling. We’re planning to donate 40% of proceeds from the sales of both the London and LA shows to the fund. In terms of the artists selected, we have worked with them in the past and knew that they would feel strongly about paying tribute to these figures and histories in the UK and US. We wanted to connect the continent with the deep experiences of the diaspora.

Read more: Sculptor Helaine Blumenfeld on the power of public art

contemporary portrait

Breonna Taylor, Moufouli Bello, Acrylic on Canvas, 150cm x 120cm, 2020

collage artwork

Boshielo, Giggs Kgole, Anaglyph, Oil, Acrylic fabric & mixed media on Canvas, 230cm x 150cm, 2020

5. Many of the works celebrate key figures and moments in Black history, is it important that viewers recognise and understand these specific references?

It is hugely important that everyone knows the correct history and understands the references in the show. We hope that visitors to Say My Name will learn more about Black history in the US and UK and leave the gallery with food for thought on what part they can play in improving the current world system.

mixed media artwork

In Remembrance of Bruce’s Beach, Dandelion Eghosa, photography, analogue collage and embellishments with acrylic paints on canvas, 190 x 127cm, 2020

6. In a more general sense, how do you see visual art participating in wider contemporary discourse?

Visual art plays a key role in wider contemporary discourse and has the power to influence the status quo. As Say My Name opens in London, Americans continue to protest on the streets every day since the murder of George Floyd in May. On the continent, young Nigerians are now protesting and advocating for the #EndSARS movement. As an art gallery, we feel it is our responsibility to use our voice to continue and support these conversations to help the creation of a better world.

‘Say My Name’ runs until 28 November 2020 at Signature Art London, and will open in in Los Angeles in February 2021. For more information visit: signatureafricanart.com

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contemporary art sculpture
contemporary art sculpture

‘La marea bajita’ from Diango Hernández’s Instopia Instagram project

Dusseldorf-based, Cuban artist Diango Hernández has been blurring the lines between the virtual and physical since 2015 with his ongoing Instagram art project Instopia in which he digitally places his own artworks into existing photographs of luxury spaces. Nick Hackworth speaks to the artist about ownership, challenging perceptions of reality and the culture of revolution
artist in the studio

Diango Hernández

LUX: Can you describe Instopia in a nutshell?
Diango Hernández: Instopia is an ongoing series of images that show artworks of mine in extraordinary places; a painting of mine hanging, for example, in a luxurious villa in Greece or Capri or, say, a huge sculpture inside a high-end ‘white cube’ gallery in New York or London.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

There’s a bit of magic or sleight of hand, in the way these Instopia images are made. The process begins with me finding an image of one of these luxurious spaces on Instagram or online. Then I design a virtual artwork, it could be painting, a mural or a sculpture, that I think would look perfect in that particular, photographed space. I take into careful consideration of all the elements of the spaces, its colours, lighting and textures. Then I digitally place my artwork into the image of that space and post up this new picture onto my Instagram account. The work only becomes Instopia only when makes you believe that it’s “real”.

LUX: How did you come up with the concept?
Diango Hernández: It wasn’t actually about the irony, cynicism or any form of mockery. It was just that very often when I came across beautiful images of luxurious places I always found in them, some spaces that I thought would be good for my art. But people got offended by the project because it challenged their ideas of reality. They’d look at an Instopia image and ask, ‘How real is it?’ or ‘Are you lying to me? You don’t have a painting of yours hanging in that beautiful mansion!’ I lost friends because of Instopia. In fact, the longer I’ve been continued the project the more that other artists and art dealers have reacted strangely toward me.

abstract art doorway

‘Cadenas de agua’ from Diango Hernández’s Instopia Instagram project

LUX: Why do you think people in the art world reacted so strongly?
Diango Hernández: They were upset, insulted even, because they thought I was using these Instopia images to pretend that my work was hanging in this space or was part of that great collection or museum. For instance, I’d replace a Francis Bacon one of my paintings in an image and people would be like, ‘your work isn’t in that collection!’ They’d be really rude, but I would say to them, ‘I’m not bound to the sense of reality you have. I come from another country, another tradition.’ I still believe we have can an intense dialogue with pictures. Pictures are more serious than most people believe.

Read more: Loquet’s co-founder Sheherazade Goldsmith on creating sustainable jewellery

LUX: In the captions of your Instagram posts do you refer to the reality or unreality of the image?
Diango Hernández: No. On Instagram you have a few elements that will imply a level of truthfulness: the image, the hashtags and the text. I work with all of these elements to make you believe, as much as possible, that the post is real. This is why people got really upset. Galleries even cancelled shows. They had collectors calling and telling them that I was abusing the internet. I was like, ‘Are you kidding me guys? Don’t know the history of collage?’ It just shows you how contradictory the contemporary art world is. Everyone is busy selling the ‘new’ and the ‘radical’ but only a few can really deal with what is really new.

swimming pool artwork

digital artwork

Cielo bajo el agua (above) and Tu muchas veces (here) from Diango Hernández’s Instopia Instagram project

LUX: The negative reactions to your work are interestingly hypocritical. Instagram is a vast, collective platform which people use to project or imagine their own fantasies. But as usual, things get conservative when people with money get upset…
Diango Hernández: Exactly. When people complain about me inserting an artwork into an image of their beautiful interior, they are effectively saying, ‘Come on, I have spent millions of dollars on this living room!’ A lot of the outrage is connected to people’s sense of ‘property’.

Read more: Laid-back fine dining at Knightsbridge restaurant Sumosan Twiga

Most of the legal issues I’ve had have come from photographers complaining that I’d abused their copyright. That make sense as people are crazy about property. They forget that artists challenge and question that very notion of ownership. Somehow, we have to do it, it is in our DNA. A world without people questioning private property is an unfair world. But it’s true that my way of doing this is more ‘gentle’, I just add ‘value’ to your beautiful property by adding my ‘art’ to it!

luxurious interiors

contemporary artwork

Ojos claros (above) and Noches (here) from Diango Hernández’s Instopia Instagram project

LUX: Do you think of your work as having a punk or anarchist spirit?
Diango Hernández: I’d say my attitude isn’t so much punk, I’d say it comes out of the culture of revolution. To illustrate what I mean, a particular story comes to mind…

In the Havana of the 1940s and 1950s there was a very fancy country club park, frequented by Americans and the Cuban bourgeoisie. In January 1961, the Cuban revolutionary leaders Fidel Castro and Che Guevara were enjoying a drink just after they finished a game of golf at the club. They were pondered the future of the country club, since all of its members had fled the country. There and then Guevara proposed the creation of a complex of tuition-free art schools to serve talented young people from all over the Third World. ‘The school must be built just right on top of these holes,’ Che Guevara said.

vintage golf photograph

Cuban revolutionary leaders Fidel Castro and Che Guevara playing golf

A few years later Cuba’s National Art Schools were built. In the design they attempted to reinvent architecture in the same manner that the Cuban Revolution aspired to reinvent society. To this day the art school is one of the most beautiful buildings ever built in Cuba.

That idea of subverting the function of that exclusive country club into a school for the arts, seems to me, like a radical and powerful act of collage. There is a lot to learn from the history of design and architecture. One valuable lesson is that transforming images and the values they embody is one way of transforming our reality, culturally and socially. I want people to interact more thoughtfully with images and to create ‘better’ pictures.

Follow Diango Hernandez on Instagram: @diango.hernandez

Nick Hackworth is a writer and curator of Modern Forms, an art collection and curatorial platform founded by Hussam Otaibi, Managing Partner at Floreat Group

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installation of octopus on roof
installation of octopus on roof

Installation view from Huang Yong Ping’s exhibition ‘Wu Zei’ at Musée océanographique de Monaco (represented by Kamel Mennour)

The art world has been hit harder than most industries by the global pandemic, but the industry is adapting quickly with new digital platforms and a renewed focus on local identities. Nick Hackworth speaks to three leading European galleries, Victoria Miro, Kamel Mennour and SETAREH, about the future and how their businesses are responding

‘It was too much’ is an almost universal sentiment expressed now by those at the top of art world reflecting on pre-Covid times. For those caught up in the global merry-go-round of art fairs, biennales and major openings, the disconnect between the art – the thing-in-itself – and the business and culture around it, was increasing apparent year on year.

The energy and flavour of that now, suddenly distant world is brilliantly captured in the prologue of Boom, Michael Shnayeson’s recently published account of the rise of the contemporary art market. His opening scene is set in the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois on the eve of Art Basel 2017, where the mega dealers are congregating: ‘Gagosian has flown to Basel on his $60 million Bombardier General Express jet two days before the fair’s first choice VIP preview… Most other dealers would arrive on Monday, a day before the fair’s coveted VIP opening. A few, like silver haired blue chip dealer Bill Acquavella, would arrive in their own planes. Others would descend at Basel’s EuroAirport in NetJets filled with collectors and money, like an art world air force.’

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Basel was, of course, just one of the many stops in a hyper-globalised art world sustained by an increasingly intense circulation of people and product. In a bid to capture as much of that energy as possible the biggest galleries, the likes of Gagosian, Pace and Hauser & Wirth opened spaces across the world, becoming truly global businesses.

Generally speaking, however, art is an object of aesthetic and intellectual contemplation, often revealing more of itself to those willing and able to take the time to look and think – a resource squandered by a culture of constant travel. Then the pandemic hit, the music stopped – cue much soul-searching about the systemic problems in the art world, prime among them, an profound imbalance between the global and local.

Victoria Miro, London & Venice

Founded in 1985, Victoria Miro is one of the most significant contemporary galleries in the world and a foundational presence in the London art scene, representing some 40 international artists and artist estates. The gallery has a boutique space in Venice, and a space in Mayfair, London, but without doubt the gallery’s spiritual home is its extraordinary complex of voluminous spaces designed by Claudio Silvestrin in its building on Wharf Road in East London.

Victoria Miro and gallery partner Glenn Scott Wright in Victoria Miro Mayfair, with artworks by Yayoi Kusama
Artworks courtesy the artist, Ota Fine Arts and Victoria Miro. © YAYOI KUSAMA

Glen Scott Wright: “We don’t see ourselves as specific to a locale. Our artists come from all over the world, they show all over the world, and the world comes to London. I think London is a great place to be for that. In the past, of course, we were able to to engage with specific localities through art fairs. For a while we were doing something like twelve or thirteen fairs a year but obviously that will change now and we’re finding different ways of addressing that global marketplace. The digital marketplace is going to be an increasingly important, of course.

Read more: Meet the winners of Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s awards

We recently did a collaborative project with David Zwirner called Side by Side, where we created a micro-site, showing some of the artists that we both work with. We also used the occasion to launch an extended-reality app called Vortic Collect, a project that Ollie, Victoria’s son, has been developing for three years now. On Vortic people can actually enter our spaces virtually and look at art. They can walk around a Grayson Perry sculpture, they can walk up to a Njideka Akunyili Crosby painting and look at it close-up. It’s really very exciting that people can look at exhibitions on their phones or their iPads and have an accurate experience, in terms of being able to see what the art is like.

Building facade

Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW. Courtesy Victoria Miro. Photograph © James Morris.

artwork sculptures by river

Installation view of THE MOVING MOMENT WHEN I WENT TO THE UNIVERSE
, by Yayoi Kusama, Victoria Miro, Waterside Garden, 16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW. 3 October – 21 December 2018. Courtesy the artist, Ota Fine Arts and Victoria Miro. © YAYOI KUSAMA

We’ve actually doing well in terms of sales on these digital platforms. We’ve had opened a sell-out show with Flora Yukhnovich on Vortic. The project with David Zwirner was very successful for us as was Frieze New York online. This illustrates an interesting point. I have clients of the old-school variety who’ve been collecting for decades and faithfully go to all the major fairs, biennales and openings. Some of them have written to me and said, ‘Look, we’ve always bought art that we can see, experience and engage with in the gallery, at an art fair, or see in a major exhibition. That’s not going to happen anymore. We’re not travelling. We’ve never bought art digitally, but we still want to buy art! So we’re going to be buying art and looking at digital images for the first time.’ These are several conversations that I’m merging together. But, in essence, the way people engage with art is changing and I think that’s a really interesting paradigm shift.

In terms of what change we would like to see happen in the art world as a result of this crisis, the change of pace is good. I mean, the amount of travelling I was doing! I just looked at first ten weeks of the year in my diary and I was in a different city, at a different opening, at a different event, at a different exhibition every other day. And this is all over the world, from Paris to Asia, to Australia to the States. Literally, just bouncing around all these places. I was recently scrolling through my photos and it was just pictures of planes and airports and different cities and dinners and openings and artists. My life was crazy! So less travel would be great and in terms of global warming it’s good that we’re not shipping things willy-nilly all over the world. Just having a little bit of breathing space has been fantastic.”

Find out more: victoria-miro.com

Kamel Mennour, Paris & London

Man in suit

Kamel Mennour

One of the world’s most respected gallerists, Kamel Mennour has been in business for over 20 years. His roster includes some 40 artists, including Tatiana Trouvé, Anish Kapoor, Lee Ufan, Daniel Buren, Douglas Gordon, Philippe Parreno, Martin Parr and Ugo Rondinone. Mennour is known for the quality of his program, going the extra mile to realise the creative ambitions of his artists and for championing his home town of Paris. He has three galleries in the city, two on the left bank and one on the right bank on the prestigious Avenue Matignon, as well as a boutique London space in the Claridge’s building.

Kamel Mennour: “People were often offering me opportunities to open everywhere. Bigger spaces in London, New York or Hong Kong and I was always saying no. I prefer to be extremely stable and to be extremely confident and strong in my city. I decided long ago that being Parisian was in the DNA of the gallery.

Read more: Bentley reveals its sleek new Bentayga model

As you may know, twenty years ago, Paris was totally empty, there was nothing in terms of contemporary art. I was thinking that I could, along with others, help restore Paris’ place in the art world. Also I didn’t want to be the number 38 in New York, you know? In Paris I am one of the key players, the one that the Pompidou Centre or the Palais de Tokyo calls. But of course, in order to expand and promote my artists and the gallery, my strategy is to be ambitious at art fairs like Frieze or Basel, and to stage extremely strong displays that keep the attention of the art world.

gallery front

Kamel Mennour’s gallery space on Avenue Matignon, Paris

installation artwork

An installation by Tatiana Trouvé at Kamel Mennour’s booth at Frieze London 2018

When we opened the space on Avenue Matignon [on the right bank of Paris], people said, ‘Are you kidding? Why are you opening there?’ The right bank, yes, that’s where the wealthy collectors live, but for contemporary art at that time, it was a desert, a total no man’s land. People are coming there now, but my idea was quite retro. In the thirties and the forties, before the second World War, the right bank was where the centre of Paris’ contemporary art scene, but it collapsed as France collapsed. So I wanted try to do something new and bring something back. I said to myself, instead of opening something weak in New York, I would prefer to be confident and strong in my own city and to be very present. When a collector or the director of a museum wants to see me, I’m here. I can be extremely reactive and I am always taking the subway or an Uber to meet people. I also represent artists from my city. Some of my artists are based in Berlin or New York, but most of them are here and I’m always trying to persuade artists to come and live in Paris.

Now, with lockdown, the world we knew before – with planes and travel – is gone. Now, I’m thinking every day how lucky I was to have had this intuition, to be strong here. I wish them all the best, but it will be extremely difficult for those galleries that have places all over the world to manage in this new world.”

Find out more: kamelmennour.com

SETAREH, Düsseldorf

man with artworks

Samandar Setareh

Founded in 2013 by two brothers – Samandar Setareh and Elham Setareh – SETAREH grew out of a third generation family-run business specialising in textile art. That background eventually led them to open the gallery which now has three spaces in Düsseldorf, including two on the city’s grandest avenue, Koenigsallee and one, SETAREH X, that showcases emerging artists. With its broad program of global contemporary art, the gallery has brought a new and vital energy to the venerable Rhineland art scene.  Highlights have included shows of new Iranian and Chinese contemporary art, as well museum quality shows of major German art such as Hans Hartung and the Zero group.

Samandar Setareh: “I think this pandemic will have a profound effect on the art world. I already see successful business models being challenged. Galleries that had detached themselves from their artists and their natural collector base and moved into a kind of travelling environment and artificial marketplace are going to find it difficult. Galleries that are are deeply rooted in relation to their collectors and their artists will be the winners of this new time which we are facing. This is an approach we’ve had from the beginning. On starting the gallery, we decided to be deeply rooted in this area and to make that a point of excellence in a sense. We have deep relations with the collectors and collections here, and we’re very close to the institutions of the regions. We have world-class museums in this area, the Ludwig museum in Cologne is very close, the NRW Collection in Düsseldorf and one of the best things is that we have is the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, which has produced perhaps 75% of the very important German artists in the post-war period. So while Düsseldorf isn’t a financial hub compared to places like Paris, London or New York, it’s a cultural production hub.

Read more: Founder of London Art Studies Kate Gordon on digital art history

sculpture in gallery

‘Light and Ceramics’ by Otto Piene at SETAREH Gallery, 2014

installation exhibition

Installation view of Zero group exhibition at SETAREH gallery, Düsseldorf

When we started in 2013, the art market was exploding in terms of how international it was becoming. The Rhineland then was still dominated by all big artists, such as Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and Joseph Beuys (who all come from the Düsseldorf Academy), the Zero art movement, Markus Lüpertz and Jörg Immendorff and so on. They dominated the way people collected and accepted art. Being from a mixed German and Persian background, one of our missions was to expand and broaden the kind of art that collectors in the region looked at and to make it more diverse, culturally. So we staged the first Italian Modernism art exhibition in Germany, the first contemporary Iranian art show in the region and have showed artists from China and so on. That’s why we also had to have a number of different spaces in the city so that we can show a wide range of art at the same time.”

Find out more: setareh-gallery.com

Nick Hackworth is a writer and curator of Modern Forms, an art collection and curatorial platform founded by Hussam Otaibi, Managing Partner at Floreat Group.

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Reading time: 11 min
Hong Kong skyline
Hong Kong skyline

M+ will transform the West Kowloon skyline

LUX Contributing Editor and Hong Kong art and design doyen Alan Lo in conversation with Suhanya Raffel, the director of M+ – a museum set to change the conversation about Asia’s place in the art world

It may just be the most important contemporary cultural development in the world. Hong Kong’s M+ museum of visual culture is, finally, scheduled to open in early 2021 after years of anticipation (and a few delays). The Herzog & De Meuron-designed building will not just be a stunning addition to the skyline, it will be the cornerstone of the new West Kowloon Cultural District – an area which, along with Adrian Cheng’s K11 development in Victoria Dockside, will transform Hong Kong. The city has always been known for its commerce and cuisine, but with M+ – the most sophisticated and extensive showcase of its type in the world – it is set to make the leap towards becoming a major player culturally, too.

The figures are staggering: M+ has nearly twice the floor area of London’s gargantuan Tate Modern. It has already purchased all the existing and future work of funky digital collective Young Hae Chang Heavy Industries. Expect plenty more fireworks to come.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Alan Lo: You joined M+ from the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2016. Why Hong Kong at this juncture in your career? What do you hope to achieve as executive director?
Suhanya Raffel: The M+ project has always been on my radar. I’ve been visiting Hong Kong since the early 1990s and was keenly aware of the major cultural infrastructure programme on West Kowloon when it was being formulated. To deliver M+ as the museum director is an opportunity I couldn’t resist. Bringing a major cultural institution into Asia and seeing how it will transform Hong Kong is a key achievement. M+ will be the place to come and see Asian visual culture, as we naturally take a preeminent place among international museums.

Alan Lo: All eyes are on what will be the most important art institution in Asia. What can we expect at the opening?
Suhanya Raffel: We have spent the past six years assembling an outstanding collection of visual culture from the mid-20th century onwards. It is unique in scope and brings a necessary perspective to the understanding of design, architecture, visual art and moving image as it has developed in this part of the world. Our opening will be dedicated to profiling our collections and I know that it will bring entirely new points of view on the various histories of our region.

Man and woman standing on curved staricase

LUX Contributing Editor Alan Lo and M+ director Suhanya Raffel

Alan Lo: Critics have pointed to the M+ curatorial team’s lack of local/Hong Kong knowledge. What do you have to stay to that?
Suhanya Raffel: At M+ we embrace diversity, which is an important characteristic of Hong Kong, a global city with a proud history of being cosmopolitan and outward-looking. We have specialist curators of Hong Kong visual culture who have a deep knowledge of the work of artists, architects, designers and filmmakers from here. Our curators work together across disciplines and that brings a strength of vision and voice, both to the Hong Kong cultural community and beyond. We must add to the Hong Kong cultural ecology, embracing the strengths and contributions of Hong Kong makers and showing them together with their international peers. What has been missing here in Hong Kong is a major global institution developed from its local positioning, and this has now been redressed with the development of M+.

Alan Lo: How do you see the Hong Kong/Greater Bay Area art ecosystem evolving?
Suhanya Raffel: Hong Kong will grow even further as a major international centre for the arts. We have seen this growth already, and it will only amplify as collecting institutions, both public and private, establish themselves, with global best practice as a governing principle.

Read more: Designer Philipp Plein on mixing business with pleasure

Alan Lo: M+ will rely on support from art patrons locally and globally. Are you seeing healthy growth in art patronage in the region?
Suhanya Raffel: Yes, absolutely I can see a healthy growth of art patronage. The relationship between patrons, collectors, philanthropists, members and foundations in relation to M+ is already developing from strength to strength. It is only together with our various audiences and communities that a museum of M+’s scale can begin to be successful. When we open, it will be just the beginning of our museum’s journey, and ensuring our various stakeholders understand this is clearly one of the challenges.

Alan Lo: M+ began to co-commission the Hong Kong exhibition at Venice Biennale in 2013, which resulted in Hong Kong-based artists seeing a surge in prominence. Why do you think it’s important for M+ to play a role?
Suhanya Raffel: As a global museum, we see profiling Hong Kong artists, designers, architects and makers as an intrinsic part of our work. In this regard, M+ co-commissioning the Hong Kong in Venice Pavilion at the Venice Biennale has brought greater prominence to these artists, and by association, the Hong Kong art world.

Render of museum interiors

The vast interior of M+ will have twice the floor area of London’s Tate Modern

Alan Lo: Many private museums have popped up in Asia. Would you like to see more private museum projects in Hong Kong?
Suhanya Raffel: A healthy mixture of private and public institutions is something to encourage. Hong Kong’s aspiration to become a cultural capital means we need to see more institutions of various scales across the private and public sphere take hold and grow. We are already seeing this take root, ensuring Hong Kong’s place as a great global cultural city.

Alan Lo: M+ is a major project focusing on contemporary visual culture. What about the audience in our region? Are the people of HK and southern China ready for M+?
Suhanya Raffel: Without question, the audiences are here. It is a young audience with a strong appetite for contemporary culture.

Read more: How wealthy philanthropists are supporting conservation

Alan Lo: Do you think the shift in the global art market toward the top end is helping or hurting the ecosystem? How are museums changing to reflect the increasing concentration of art in private hands?
Suhanya Raffel: Public institutions cannot compete with the private market. That is why philanthropy is an important part of museum work. As we develop M+, to communicate our mission with passion and clarity is essential, and this helps us to develop our audiences. In Asia, the art world ecology is still in its early days, and this brings with it both challenges and opportunities. The establishment of a great public institution that is M+ will bring a much clearer understanding of how a museum adds enormous value to conversations around cultural and regional histories, and how they intersect with and add to essential global dialogues.

Alan Lo: In 20 years’ time, will the world’s major art institutions be split more evenly between west and east? How do you intend to position M+ in the context of this potential shift?
Suhanya Raffel: The M+ vision of bringing an Asian museum voice of substance with a deep multidisciplinary collection to support this position will inevitably change international discourse. The known Euro/American canon will shift, and I hope, with the establishment of M+, many other institutions across Asia will follow. This is healthy, important and vital.

Alan Lo: The influence of collectors has changed so much with social media – how would you like to see them play a role in the future of M+?
Suhanya Raffel: The role of social media and digital is the one revolution that defines our century. It is the new media and medium of exchange, operating at speed. Museums are traditionally slow-release platforms, but we must build agility and responsiveness. Working together with those who are already alert to these streams is essential and at M+ we are already embracing this parallel world!

Find out more: mplus.org.hk

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

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Abstract ink painting in black and pink
Ink painting of a moon

‘Moon Walk’ (1969), by Liu Kuo-sung

Navigating the deep waters of the Asian art scene could be treacherous, without a guide such as Calvin Hui. Jason Chung Tang Yen talks to the Hong Kong and London-based globetrotter, art connoisseur and entrepreneur about his mission to bring contemporary Chinese ink art to the global stage

DEUTSCHE BANK WEALTH MANAGEMENT x LUX

“Ink is not just a medium; it embodies a cultural language,” says gallery owner and art fair entrepreneur Calvin Hui. He’s referring to contemporary Chinese ink art and the enterprise he founded, a booming art platform titled Ink Now, first launched in Taipei and generating considerable buzz among art lovers and collectors. However, Hui’s vision for Ink Now extends beyond any fixed formats; he has introduced a notion of “more than ink, and more than an art fair. We are bringing awareness of ink art’s essence and spirituality in a cultural context, beyond its pure medium form,” he says.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

For more than 2,000 years, ink art, once made with burnt pine trees and organic matter on rice paper or silk, has been the primary – and most celebrated – form of artistic expression for Chinese calligraphers and painters. The traditional art form reached its peak in the Song Dynasty, from 960-1279AD; historical masterpieces from that era are still preserved in the palace museums in Beijing and Taipei and Qu Ding’s Summer Mountains has a permanent home at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Western artists, from the Impressionists to Pablo Picasso, have long been inspired by the ink art tradition, but in recent years, new media and influences from the West have made their own mark on the medium. Today’s artists often turn to or reinterpret traditional ink art techniques while in pursuit of a contemporary breakthrough, resulting in multi-layered works that are filled with cultural references and meaning. And some advocates for the medium, such as Calvin Hui, are hoping to lay the foundations for a new golden age of ink art.

Contemporary style Chinese ink painting

‘Far Side of the Moon’ (2019), by Victor Wong.

Asian man in suit sitting in installation artwork

Calvin Hui at Victor Wong’s solo exhibition ‘TECH-iNK Garden’

A network of contacts and the ability to plan on a grand scale are required to make this happen, but Hui has long operated in the nerve centre of the art market, bridging the gap between contemporary Eastern art and the market in the West. He is the cofounder of the 3812 Gallery, with an outpost in Central Hong Kong and St James’s in London, and his company also provides professional and private art consultancy services. His vision for the Ink Now venture is driven by his passion for Chinese artists who are producing works steeped in heritage, but who look towards the future.

One such artist is Hsiao Chin – a favourite of Hui’s and a master of abstract art in Asia – whose work captures the duality of Taoist philosophy and will be shown in a solo exhibition, PUNTO: Hsiao Chin’s International Art Movement Era at 3812 Gallery next year to coincide with the artist’s 85th birthday. “Hsiao Chin’s work perfectly interprets the ‘Eastern origin in contemporary expression’ principle advocated by Ink Now and 3812 Gallery,” Hui declares. “Though the artist always claims that his work is not Chinese ink, it is obvious to see that Hsiao applies Eastern philosophical thoughts such as Lao Zhuang in Western art.” These influences translate into abstract paintings that merge colourful brush painting with modernist compositions. The show will also include a variety of archival materials that will be shown for the first time outside of Asia.

Read more: Viviane Sassen’s ‘Venus and Mercury’ at Frieze London

And Hui, unsurprisingly, has big plans to take what was once a niche market mainstream. “The objective of having a brand and platform like Ink Now is to materialise the pursuit of art from a cultural perspective to a commercial one,” he enthuses. “Over the last century, particularly in the US and Europe, the shifting influence of culture exported from the East [has transformed] due to political power shifts.” With billions of people now familiar with ink’s cultural language, the discipline is poised to gain widespread popularity.

For Hui, the “Western perspective on Chinese contemporary art was, in a way, too repetitive and rigid while lacking historical and aesthetic context.” Jay Xu, director of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco, agrees that although Chinese inks inspired and continue to inspire Western art, there is still much for us to learn. “Picasso himself once said that had he been born Chinese, he would have been a calligrapher, not a painter, and there was a tablet of Chinese calligraphy on Matisse’s wall. Whether or not Western artists understand the Chinese culture or fully understand the context of ink as a colour and ink as a linear expression, it has inspired many generations of artists both in the East and the West.”

Art exhibition with press

The inaugural Ink Now art expo in Taipei earlier this year

Ink Now is designed to deliver a more nuanced study of the genre by creating a platform for academic discussions, online archives and collectors’ gatherings. Hui’s approach allows an international audience to access material and information in a “globalised community on one’s palm via smartphones,” as well as physically in the gallery spaces and exhibition venues. Ink Now is not merely an art fair; it is “trans-regional and multifaceted”, enabling “international dialogues in various cities”. And, as Hui revealed in our interview, the initiative will be coming to London, perhaps as early as 2020.

Hui knows that the words we use to talk about art are significant, and that the name ‘Ink Now’ underlines the platform’s forward- looking approach to cultural identity. The emerging and established artists promoted by Ink Now create work that is supremely relevant to the issues that preoccupy us in the present. ‘Tech Ink’ is another phrase coined by Hui to refer to our relationship to art in the online age. “Discovering, appreciating, collecting art all happens in the digital realm now. It is a new era; we are particularly fortunate to be part of making new history.”

Abstract geometric artwork using ink

‘Magical Landscape’, by Wang Jieyin

Liu Kuo-sung is a Chinese artist whose Modernist work is part of this new history. For Kuo-sung, “Ink has always been part of our culture’s DNA,” not just a media but, “really something much deeper. To me, ink is more spiritual.” He believes our era of digital connectivity will help to both influence the market and inspire ink artists. “With the evolution of technology, culture exchange and influence will be easier and faster. During my early career, information [was] scarce and I needed to either borrow a catalogue from a public source or physically go to a museum or gallery to see artworks. Today, you get so much information without needing to leave your house.”

Read more: Spanish artist Secundino Hernández on flesh & creative chaos

Museum director Jay Xu thinks the medium could even challenge the lens through which we view art history. “From the Renaissance, the scope and definition of art has been evolving, and though art has been regarded [in relation to] a Western canon, what ink could possibly do is to rethink the canon of art in general. It is a much more diverse world that we live in now. The global phenomenon must include artistic expressions of all cultures and regions, in which each have their own definition of what art is.”

The art form finds perhaps its most modern expression when machines are involved in its creation. “Digital art is definitely a trend, especially in the Western market,” Hui points out, citing Victor Wong’s artificial intelligence ink paintings, a collaboration between the artist and his AI assistant, Gemini. The robot that Wong programmed has created a fascinating, meticulous body of shuimo ink work, heading into uncharted artistic territory and prompting a wider discussion on AI artworks and the definition of art.

The relationship between traditional and contemporary inks is one duality that is explored in the art form; the tension between Western and Eastern influences is another. Jay Xu cites artist Xu Bing and his ability to “create scripts writing English alphabets in Chinese calligraphic strokes – an iconic mode of expression that is part of the ongoing evolution of calligraphy.” The museum’s 2012 exhibition, Out of Character: Decoding Chinese Calligraphy, featured works from the Jerry Yang collection, including animated calligraphy by Bing and “juxtaposing Western abstract expressionism with ink art to form a dialogue”.

Abstract ink painting in black and pink

Abstract ink painting

Here: ‘L’inizio del Dao-2’ (1962); above: ‘L’Origine del Chi-3’ (1962), both by Hsiao Chin

As both a gallery owner and a collector, what does Hui think about mixing business with pleasure? “The inevitable marriage of art and investment is an agreeable phenomenon; however, the danger of treating art solely as an investment means to neglect its artistic value while focusing on the price. Art should always be about value, not the market price.” Value should be established first, and the market should follow. “As an art consultant, I take great precaution in investing in art. It is crucial to know the difference between cultural assets and financial products. The art market is much more complex, with different factors and less regulations and compliances than the financial sector.”

There is no doubt that the ink art market is growing: “The regional market in China itself is an important index on the one hand, but on the other, acceptance and exposure in locations such as London provide outlooks for the market trends.” As a gallery owner, Hui has a track record of successfully bringing works by celebrated regional artists onto a more international stage, and platforms like Ink Now often mark the beginning of a surge in the market; the growth of the contemporary African art scene in London and New York followed a similar trajectory. Ink Now’s strategy is to focus on ink art, “not just as a category, but rather as a set of mutual cultural linguistics that bridge various cultures and markets together.”

Read more: Louis Roederer’s CEO Frédéric Rouzaud on art and hospitality

Calvin Hui and Ink Now’s mission has artist Liu Kuo-sung’s backing: “As an artist, we need to understand our mission in life is not only to create good art, but also to leave a mark or make a contribution to our culture and civilisation. Ink art has evolved so much in the past 50 years. Today, young ink artists are creating some amazing new forms of ink art, and I have also seen some great ink art works from Western artists as well.”

On the business of collecting, Hui is equally passionate: “Mankind is drawn to collect, it is in our nature. Owning art is owning experience, emotion, and a piece of the past, it should have a story of its own, to have an interaction with the collector. It is a highly individual and subjective act. One should always collect what one loves. Buying art should not always be about investment. It is about the purest form of passion. I only buy what speaks to me, something I can engage on a deeper level.”

And what was the first piece of art that Calvin Hui collected? A lithograph by Joan Miró, an artist who was fascinated by Eastern culture and who incorporated calligraphy and ink art into his oeuvre. In other words, the artwork that Hui first chose was not only a testament to his impeccable taste, but a glimpse into his future.

Find out more: ink-now.com/en

abstract artwork with multiple lines

‘Moving Vision: Neither Dying or Being’, by Wang Huangsheng.

Calvin Hui’s six artists to know

Wang Jieyin
From the start of his career, Shanghai-based Wang Jieyin has been inspired by the cave paintings in Dunhuang. His contemporary take on ancient Chinese art results in artwork with a muted palette, a focus on natural shapes and romantic, abstracted depictions of landscapes.

Chloe Ho
Chloe Ho’s ink art references both her American and Hong Kong background with unexpected elements such as coffee and acrylic paint. Her exhibition, Unconfined Illumination, runs at 3812 Gallery in London until 15 November.

Chinese ink painting with pink and black ink

‘Volcano;, by Chloe Ho

Wang Huangsheng
Living and working in Beijing, Wang Huangsheng is a curator and professor whose minimalist contemporary ink drawings convey a range of moods, suggest landscapes and allude to calligraphy.

Victor Wong
Victor Wong’s debut in TECH-iNK is a breakthrough in combining technology with art, calling into question our definition of art and culture, while creating highly detailed, original ink depictions of surfaces, such as the moon.

Landscape painting in ink

‘Contraction and Extension of the Twilight’, by Liu Dan

Liu Dan
Liu Dan is known for the contemporary twist he applies to his organic, shaded landscapes, devoting himself to detailed studies of flowers and rocks using Chinese ink and brush techniques.

Hsu Yung Chin
Hsu Yung Chin’s practice incorporates both writing and painting, merging boundaries between the two forms of expression, and breaking all the traditions of calligraphy in order to create works that feel relevant to contemporary Chinese society.

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

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Reading time: 11 min
Vineyards pictured at night with orange sky
A woman jumping in a vineyard with a basket full of grapes

“I worked in nature as if it was in the studio. The vineyards seemed to me a very poetical, mysterious and playful environment.” – Marie Benattar

Louis Roederer makes what might just be the world’s most famous champagne, Cristal, and a range of others all renowned for their sophistication and complexity. Less known is the family-owned company’s visionary art foundation, and foray into the luxury boutique hotel industry. Darius Sanai speaks to CEO and 7th-generation family scion, Frédéric Rouzaud, about photography,
art, hospitality, and almost everything except champagne
Man in a suit and glasses standing in a hotel

Frédéric Rouzaud

Travelling from the heart of London to the heart of Paris is, in some ways, like stepping from one luxury universe into another. In Mayfair, every conversation is about money – what’s for sale, what’s being sold, who might buy what. A brand is a currency, there to have its value inflated and sold on to the next wheeler-dealer.

Paris may be the home of the global luxury industry, but despite this, or perhaps because of it, it is – mostly – not considered appropriate to have the same conversations. For every private equity group buying and selling companies like card sharps distributing aces, there is a celebrated company (don’t call them brands) that has been in family hands for centuries.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

This is one of the first thoughts that flows through my head when I meet Frédéric Rouzaud in a hotel lobby in the chi-chi 16th arrondissement. Through the Maison Louis Roederer, Rouzaud may be the family owner and CEO of one of the world’s most celebrated luxury brands – who doesn’t know Cristal, after all – but it’s apparent that this thoughtful, understated and gently smiling gentleman in a dapper suit is a different breed to many modern CEOs. Louis Roederer is a Maison, not a brand.

Photography by Michel Slomka

We settle in quickly to an easy conversation about art, and in particular photography. Recently, Louis Roederer invited young abstract artistic photographers to create images of the champagne house, its cellars and grounds, giving them carte blanche to interpret whatever they wished, however they wanted.

The results, which have never been publicly exhibited, are published on these pages. But Rouzaud, who expresses an enthusiasm for photography and 20th and 21st century art, is doing so much more in the world of art through the Fondation Louis Roederer (a private foundation), and has a plan to develop a collection of luxury boutique hotels. Here is a polymath who is plainly not interested in being pigeonholed. And, of course, the Louis Roederer brand owns several wine estates and makes some of the world’s most celebrated champagnes – not just Cristal, which needs little introduction – including a personal favourite, the complex yet ethereal blanc de blancs.

Abstract photography of women in white dresses

“I found in champagne perfect elements related to dreams… it appears as a perfect opportunity to explore a fairy direction.” – Marie Benattar

LUX: Tell us more about your hotel projects?
Frédéric Rouzaud: We bought our first hotel last November, in the Alps in France. A hotel seems far away from the wine world, but not so far when you look for a long-term strategy that you need to have for hotels. Like for wine, it’s about the French ‘art de vivre’. It’s about gastronomy, the experience and wine. My idea is to create a small boutique hotel collection, and also by having some private houses open to private consumers who would like to live a very nice experience around wine in our different properties. [Outside of Champagne] we have wine properties in Provence, Portugal, two châteaux in Bordeaux, one in California. The idea is to create a small collection either by buying hotels like we did in the Alps or by creating some hotels within our winery sites, which are generally very nice places to stay.

Read more: Wes Anderson & Juman Malouf curate an exhibition at Fondazione Prada

LUX: Will there be a particular aesthetic?
Frédéric Rouzaud: We will try to make people feel comfortable and at home. We will work with some designers that have this sense of conviviality, [to create] a nice experience. We will adapt to each place – the style, the sense of the place. It will be a five-star hotel that is casual and comfortable, family friendly.

Vineyards photographed at night

“I worked at night by the light of the moon. I have aspired to build mirage images in order to reveal what can not be mastered by man, the very power of nature. The artificial lights were developed to unmask ghostly presences, unreal scenes, dreamlike horizons.” – Lucie Jean

LUX: There is a very powerful partnership between your Maison and the art world. The photography for the prize that you do is very abstract. Is that something you initiated yourself and how has it grown?
Frédéric Rouzaud: The story started 20 years ago, when we met the president of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. They have a fantastic collection of more than five million images – old photographs from the beginning of the creation of the photography – but they didn’t know what to do with it because they are more book-orientated. So they asked us if we would be interested in helping them show the fantastic collection to the public. That is how we started our collaboration, and we did a lot of very nice and interesting exhibitions there. We sponsor all of the exhibitions and they are fantastic. It is a very serious, rigorous and interesting collection of photography with plenty of artists.

Aerial image of a woman sitting on curved steps

“Views from above of the symbolic interiors of Roederer were completed with images of starry skies from the vineyards. This face- to-face seemed to us to be a poetic metaphor for what champagne represents, a kind of cosmic union between earth and sky.” – Simon Brodbeck and Lucie de Barbuat.

LUX: What about the young photographers we feature here?
Frédéric Rouzaud: We asked the Bibliothèque Nationale de France to select for us eight or ten young photographers who went to Champagne; there was lots of creativity and they decided to photograph Roederer as their own perception.

LUX: What did you think of what they did?
Frédéric Rouzaud: I think it was great. I think it was so different and their approach was phenomenal.

LUX: You must have a personal passion for photography to give it such support?
Frédéric Rouzaud: I am interested by art and photography – because photography is really a contemporary art form. I think it is approachable for people who sometimes do not understand or find it difficult to approach contemporary art. Photography is always approachable, understandable… and I see a big future, a big potential for photography. It is a very nice, aesthetic art.

Vineyards pictured at night with orange sky

“The intervention of man gives a very graphic aspect to the vines. I sought, through the strength of this vegetation and nature,
visual haikus which would plunge us between the lines from what is immediately visible.” – Lucie Jean

LUX: Do you collect photography yourself ?
Frédéric Rouzaud: I have some, I don’t only collect photography – I collect many things. I buy lots of intuition and inspiration (laughs). I am not a collector in the sense that I buy everything, I am more for going into galleries on the weekends/ auction sales to see what is going on – I can buy photography, a chair, a lamp…

Read more: Geoffrey Kent on travelling beyond the beaten track

LUX: Does your foundation have a physical home that people can visit?
Frédéric Rouzaud: No, not yet. The purpose of the foundation is to help institutions and museums like Palais de Tokyo and Le Grand Palais to show to the public their fantastic collections. I think we are much more for that approach rather than to say, ‘Hey, look at my foundation, look at my collection, come and visit it.’ We are a small company, we are more for helping the French big institutions, like Bibliothèque Nationale, trying to choose the artists that really talk to us in a way – that is the first point. The second point is the different prizes that we have created now; we like to discover new talents. That is really the two things helping the institution with known artists – because there are lots of artists who we have sponsored who were known, but we also like to give prizes to new talents.

Dark image of a woman in the night picking grapes

“For me, photography is a way to discover and observe the world, to embrace its complexity without feeling too much gravity. It is also a way to take time, spend it and even try to stop it.” – Marie Benattar

LUX: Is the private sector becoming more important in supporting art?
Frédéric Rouzaud: Museums don’t always have the means to do these exhibitions for the public so they seem very happy to have that kind of foundation to help. I think it is very important, yes. Even if in France it is less usual to have funds from a private company or foundation like it is in the UK, it is very normal. But I think it is coming and definitely there are never enough funds to help art. If the approach is quiet, organised, long-term and focused on what we like, I think there is no reason that it doesn’t work, because again in our approach we are more behind museums that have the savoir faire, the connection. We prefer to be maybe a little bit behind the scenes.

LUX: Are wine and art similar?
Frédéric Rouzaud: Of course, there is a link. But I always say to my team, ‘Don’t consider yourselves artists. We are not artists. We are artisans, dedicated to nature, trying to interpret each year what nature likes to give us: climate, size of grapes, concentration…’ And we try to make, modestly, with that, a wine that we sell. Artists have total freedom. We don’t. We have to ferment the wine, we have to press the wine, it has to be vigorous. It’s close to the artists’ work – but we don’t have the freedom. The only thing you have to do as an artist is express what you have in your head. So there is a very natural link between the world of wine and the world of art, but we are not artists.

Portrait of a woman standing in front of a pink wall

“The need and the desire to create cannot be explained. It’s like a breath, a small voice and sometimes even a cry that animates you and takes you to creation.” – Laura Bonnefous

LUX: Is it true to say the world of wine is more objective than art?
Frédéric Rouzaud: Yes, in the world of wine we have to follow rules, some tools, some gestures. In art, you do what you want – you are much more free. We are free in the way that we are free to search the best soils to plant the vineyards, we are free to search the best way for pruning the vineyards, the way of fine-tuning our grapes, our methods, our pressing process, our fermentation, our storage – we are free for that. But at the end of the day, the focus has to be a bottle of wine that is appreciated by the consumers. An artist, if he makes something and it pleases collectors, it is good. If it doesn’t please them, it is fine also!

Read more: Spring Studios’ Founder Francesco Costa on building a creative network

LUX: With wine, is the product the most important thing? Or the brand?
Frédéric Rouzaud: (Laughs) The brand comes after the product, in our approach. We do small quantities, small production in our own vineyards. We don’t buy grapes, we don’t buy wine, so it is a small production and we produce a small quantity of wine – not enough for the world and we are fine with that, because we don’t know how to do more at that level of quality. For us the brand is more a Maison; it is a family-owned company and we make a product the best way we can and if it becomes a brand, fine! But we are not trying to make a brand and then make the product. We were founded in 1776 and my brothers and sisters have done a great job to make a brand today – called Roederer – but still the team is really not in that approach of branding. We are really behind our product, behind our vineyards.

Men throwing buckets in vineyards

“A Cristal bottle is transparent; I tried to make the production process transparent by highlighting the talented people working in the vineyard, the cellars, the factory, the office…” – Sandra Reinflet

LUX: Tell us why you chose Val-d’Isère for your first hotel?
Frédéric Rouzaud: Why Val-d’Isère? This resort in terms of value, authenticity, purity of skiing… it really is the resort in France, if you like to ski. I like to ski and I have been to lots of resorts in France. After testing Val-d’Isère you will be disappointed if you go elsewhere – if you like to ski. Plus the fact that it is a historic hotel, one of the first of the resort, and it belonged to a family – the same family who built the hotel.

LUX: How important is China for you?
Frédéric Rouzaud: It is small yet. We are very strong in Hong Kong, but China is quite small at the moment. First, we do not have the volume. Second, the market is very young. Sometimes champagne is considered as goods which should be offered for parties. I don’t know why – champagne as a commodity. In an emerging market like that you have to sponsor a lot if you want to be in some places and we are not in this game, because we do not have the volume. We have such a respect for the wine itself that we don’t like to give it for free. We only do it sometimes, as a special prize.

LUX: We were talking about biodynamics…
Frédéric Rouzaud: We are running the Cristal estate in Champagne, 100% biodynamically, it has been ten years now so we are very happy with it. I am not a technician, but I have tastes; the grapes and maturities, the balance of the grapes concentration, acidity, level of alcohol – and it is working very well.

LUX: What difference does it make to the products when you make it biodynamically?
Frédéric Rouzaud: It is difficult to express but I think it gives it more vibrancy, more life in the wine.

Find out more: louis-roederer.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue

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Reading time: 12 min
Render of a timber stacked contemporary structure
Render of a timber stacked contemporary structure

OMM designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates. © NAARO

Last weekend saw the opening of Odunpazari Modern Museum (OMM), a major new art museum  founded by art collector Erol Tabanca and designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates in North West Turkey. Here, we recall the event in pictures

Home to Erol Tabanca’s 1000 piece contemporary art collection alongside a curated program of exhibitions, OMM officially opened its doors to the public on Sunday 8th September following a glamorous launch party on the Saturday night.

Black tie guests at VIP opening party

Guests at the opening party of OMM

Guests at VIP opening party in front of OMM branded wall

Erol Tabanca with Kengo Kuma and Yuki Ikeguchi

The opening celebrations saw Japanese bamboo artist Tanabe Chikuunsai IV completing the final touches of his largest ever installation, alongside performances by Turkish artist Lin Pesto, and singer-songwriter Jonathan Bree , and two immersive installations by British digital art collective Marshmallow Laser Feast.

Contemporary bamboo art installation expanding from a museum gallery wall

The largest installation to date by Japanese bamboo-artist Tanabe Chikuunsai IV © NAARO

Read more: OMM’s Creative Director Idil Tabanca on creating an art institution

The night also launched the museum’s first exhibition Vuslat​ (loosely translated as The Union). The group show features a selection of over 100 works by 60 leading artists predominantly from Turkey including Bedri Rahmi Eyüboğlu, Canan Tolon, Erol Akyavaş, İlhan Koman, Ramazan Bayrakoğlu, Sinan Demirtaş and Tayfun Erdoğmuş.

Guests attending a VIP party

Rana, Idil and Erol Tabanca

Woman standing in blue and gold blazer with red lips

Fashion designer Dilara Fındıkoğlu has designed the uniforms for the museum’s staff in collaboration with Creative Director Idil Tabanca

Digital art display in a museum

For more information visit: omm.art

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two woman standing in front of an abstract artwork at an exhibition

two woman standing in front of an abstract artwork at an exhibition

Born in Paris and raised in New York, Laura de Gunzburg is a partner of the exclusive members art club The Cultivist, where she acts as the Global Senior Director and Head of Strategic Development. She is also the Founder and Chair of the Dia Art Foundation’s Contemporary Associates, as well as a Contributing Editor at Cultured Magazine and a Co-Chair at the CFDA Fashion Trust. We put her in our 6 Questions hot seat.

1. Did you always want a career in the art world?

I had no intention of pursuing it really, because it was my mother’s thing. She was involved with Dia Art Foundation and my parents collected art. I don’t think I ever really thought about what I wanted to do growing up. I was a professional equestrian and riding took up a big part of my life, the plan was to go to the Olympics. After getting hurt one year and not being able to ride, I started filling my time with other things that made me realise I had other passions. During my time at The University of Miami, I didn’t want to study art history at first, but then I ended up taking the class and started to fall in love with it. Later on, opportunities presented themselves within the art world.

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2. What are the benefits of joining The Cultivist?

If one is fortunate enough, one should become a member to be able to be presented with the right information and artworks. In the time we live in, we are pushed to consume so much information and it is hard to determine what is worth your time and what isn’t. A recognisable name is often what we gravitate towards, however, in the art world a name is sometimes not enough to ensure that the exhibition is worth one’s time.

series of printed graphic materials

An example of the welcome package sent to members of The Cultivist

At The Cultivist, we edit and streamline everything the world has to offer. We help facilitate on the member’s behalf by presenting them with the information we believe they can benefit from. There is nothing commercial at The Cultivist. We organise private visits and book amazing curators and speakers to come and speak to our members. The Cultivist currently has offices in London, Brussels, Los Angeles, New York and Shanghai. We can help our members from any of these cities and one does not have to travel to make use of the membership. In London alone, we have four events every month which can be anything from a collection visit to a private studio tour. For example, we have previously done a pottery class with a ceramic sculptor and a private tour of the Da Vinci collection with the Queen’s conservator at Buckingham Palace. In Los Angeles, we have organised a private visit with the image archive at the Getty Centre, where they pulled out photographs for the members to see.

3. What does a normal day in your life look like?

Every day is very different. A big part of my job is engaging with new and prospective members at The Cultivist. I also engage with existing members, work on new opportunities, see new exhibitions and speak with partners for future collaborations. I am based between New York and London, travelling between the two cities.

A hand holding a membership card in front of an artwork

The Cultivist organises private visits to exhibitions and museums for their members

4. What do you wish to see more of in the art world?

I long for people who would speak more about the experience rather than the value of an artist or an art piece. There is an extensive amount of eagerness in regards to being market-driven. Art can often be seen as unapproachable. I believe art should be more about the experience and less about the value.

Read more: Photographer Koto Bolofo & Connolly celebrate Goodwood’s glamour

5. Who are your favourite artists at the moment?

In my personal collection, you can find Conrad Shawcross, Matt Connors, Louise Bourgeois and Sam Moyer. Another artist that I love is Wayne Thiebaud, he’s currently on my wish-list.

6. Where do you see yourself 10 years?

I see myself having my own business. The Cultivist will always be my baby as I am a partner of the company. However, I do want to build something of my own, something that stems from my own idea. I love connecting people and putting people together. That is what I am good at. I can see myself starting something related to that idea.

Follow Laura on Instagram: instagram.com/ldegunzburg

Interview by Andrea Stenslie

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installation view of a contemporary art exhibition
installation view of a contemporary art exhibition

Installation view of the ‘What’s Up’ exhibition curated by Lawrence Van Hagen in Hong Kong

Lawrence Van Hagen set out to start a travel tech company, and somewhere along the way, ended up curating a successful series of art exhibitions dedicated to supporting emerging artists. Now, Van Hagen runs LVH art, a business dedicated to helping clients navigate the international art market. Here, we speak to the entrepreneur about his unexpected career path, his favourite places to see art and how to start building a collection.

Man standing in a suit amidst contemporary art works

Lawrence Van Hagen

1. Can you tell us more about the What’s Up exhibitions and how you found yourself in the role of curator?

I started a travel start-up and in order to raise funds for it I decided to curate an art show. I wanted to curate a show since my family is in the arts. My mother has her own art foundation, collects, curates exhibitions and writes books on art. We decided to curate a show called What’s Up based on what’s up today in the art world with a focus on artists to look out for, whether they are young or established. We had the first show in Soho, New York with two spaces, 50 artists and 100 artworks. The next show turned out to be even more successful than the first.

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We have now had shows in New York, London, Hong Kong and Seoul. I work closely with my mother. It’s more my project, but my mother gives me a huge amount of advice and help. It is nice to be able to bounce ideas off one another. The good thing about working with family is trust, you know for sure with family. My mother has kind of been my mentor and taught me what I know today since I didn’t go to art school. However, since I was a kid I was immersed in the arts and always lived with art which led me to start started collecting at a young age.

2. Do you see yourself as a mediator between established and new artists?

A big thing I do with the shows is I tend to bring emerging artists or mid-career contemporary artists together with very well known names. I blend them and create a dialogue between both. I find similarities in inspiration, historical aspects, colours or medium between the established and emerging artists. I do the shows this way since I think that it is interesting and I believe that in order to attract people to a show with emerging artists, you need work by household names as well. Also, when you have younger artists at a show, it keeps the older generation more current. This way of curating shows has enabled me to have a client base from 20 to 80 years old. The older collectors have the most amazing collection of well known artists but now consider acquiring work by a young artist from the shows. I have noticed that the public enjoys shows set up this way.

3. Do you buy art for its beauty or as an investment?

My taste is very classic, I tend to focus on art that is more beautiful than conceptual. However, one thing I tell everyone including myself is to focus on buying what one likes. Whether it is beautiful work or not, it is important to know that you love the work. Second, it’s important to consider investment. For me, it’s a factor of the acquisition in my collection. If it is a very young artist, I tend to not look at it. However if I spend a certain amount of money, it has to have an investment purpose. I will not just spend a big amount of money on something I like, it has to also be of value and something I believe in. One thing to know about the shows I do is that many of the artists we showcase are artists that my mother and I collect. I love to promote the artists from my shows. Lastly, it is more important for people to find what they like, than to have an advisor tell them if what they like will be a good investment.

Abstract artworks on display in an exhibition

Artworks featured in one of the ‘What’s Up’ by artists Franz West, Stefan Bruggemann and Lucio Fontana

4. Which artists’ work do you have at home?

I have a selection of young and old artists. I have beautiful work by Georg Baselitz, who is a well known German painter and sculptor. I have two works by a young artist Donna Huanca, who is based in Berlin. She is an incredible artist, who just did a show at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. In my entrance, I have a work from the 90s by the American artist Robert Rauschenberg. I have work by Sean Scully, Stefan Bruggemann, Stanley Whitney and George Smith. In the bedroom, I have a beautiful 60s Kenneth Noland. There’s a lot more too.

In my house, I mainly have contemporary work, but with simple classic older artists. Most of the younger artists are a part of my collection and the other work is from my mother. I tend to borrow as well. I always move the artwork around in my flat to create a different aesthetic. I am lucky because the ceilings in my apartment are very high which is rare in London, so I can hang up 3 metre work. It is important for me to keep a lot of art in my house since it is my passion and profession, and I also throw dinner parties where friends come over and they can see what I do. A few pieces of art makes a big difference to a home.

5. Best place to see art in London?

It depends what type of art you are looking for. In terms of galleries, if you want to see more established artists or big shows, all the major galleries from David Zwirner and Gagosian Gallery in New York to Simon Lee in London are great. In London, if you want younger artists, it is good to go to the east end or south of London where you have Carlos Ishikawa and Emalin gallery. When it comes to museums, my favourites are Tate Modern and Whitechapel Gallery for contemporary art. Tate Britain and Royal Academy are also great. Auction houses always have incredible work. If you are not looking for a curated show and you just want to see beautiful paintings, I would recommend the private view before sale at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips. The auction houses have anything from contemporary to established and renaissance pieces. Lastly, to be honest the number one place to see art in London is in people’s homes. Often artists have incredible work in their homes since they trade with people they know.

6. As travel was your first business venture, what’s your next destination?

My next big trip is to Indonesia. I want to visit the Raja Ampat Islands on New Guinea. I also want to see the Komodo Islands with the Komodo dragon when I am there as it is close by. I travel every week as it is part of my work and I love it. I get to see many beautiful places on work trips, however it is still work for me. Therefore, my personal travels are very meaningful and I like to travel quite far to experience something different. My last big trip was to the North Pole. I like to do adventure trips. I am not a very resort-y person, but I always make sure the adventures are mixed with comfort. If anyone needs a travel guide, I am the guy to ask!

Follow Lawrence Van Hagen on Instagram: @lawrencevh

Interview by Andrea Stenslie

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Contemporary light well inside a building made from wooden panels
Interiors of an art gallery space with wooden light well feature at centre

Inside OMM designed by Kengo Kuma & Associates. Photo by Batuhan Keskiner

This September will see the opening of Odunpazari Modern Museum (OMM), a major new art museum in Eskişehir, Turkey. Designed by architects Kengo Kuma and Associates, the museum is the brainchild of art collector Erol Tabanca, whose collection will provide the permanent exhibition, and his daughter Idil Tabanca who sits at the helm as Creative Director. We speak to Idil about her multidisciplinary approach, creating an international cultural destination and the challenge of bringing contemporary art to new audiences.
Portait of a young woman wearing a blazer and red lipstick

Idil Tabanca. Photo by Emily Hope

LUX: You were one of the founding editors of the successful New York-based art and fashion magazine Bullett – do you see yourself primarily as a journalist?
Idil Tabanca: No, not at all. I studied digital media because I always thought I was going to go into film. I wanted to do set design, production design, that kind of thing. Growing up that was my dream. I just wanted to make stuff. After I graduated, I worked in film for a couple of years on various projects in the US and then I was called in to do production design for a film in New York and that’s where I met the people I ended up setting up the magazine with. We just fell into, it was very organic and we didn’t have any money so we became our own publishers because we had all this great content that we wanted to put out. There are so many stories which aren’t at all luxurious like we would get our friends to dress up as catering staff for the cover shoot of some Oscar winning actor. We didn’t have the money to hire actual caterers but we wanted to keep up the appearance. It was like the con that didn’t end.

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LUX: And you’ve gone from that to being the Creative Director of OMM.
Idil Tabanca: Well yes, and this is a very different project because for starters, it’s my family’s foundation. My father [Erol Tabanca] started collecting art about thirty years ago. It started out just as a pure love for art and the pleasure he got from it, there was no strategy involved. He was buying what he wanted to buy. As time progressed, he filled up his house and then his entire office, he didn’t have enough room for the art and he also wanted to share the works that he found so inspiring so he started the foundation. That was around the time I was closing the magazine because the internet happened. It happened to the world. So many magazines were closing. The museum is a great opportunity because if I was at another institution like this, it would’ve taken me a really long time to be here. I felt like there could be an opportunity for me to have a voice, to have a say for the young people that needed this kind of a platform back in Turkey.

I feel like there’s huge potential in Turkey for artists, but not necessarily any organisations and platforms. The exciting part of the project for me is that I can actually give young people that opportunity.

Man and woman standing on steps outside contemporary building

Erol & Idil Tabanca pictured outside the museum. Photo by Gökhan Polat

LUX: Have you always shared your father’s passion for art?
Idil Tabanca: It was part of the magazine: we covered art, fashion, culture and cinema. I have always been interested in video and photography because of my studies, but I don’t have this amazing knowledge of art history or anything like that. It wasn’t part of my education so I’m learning that part now. Even just getting familiar with the art collection is a huge amount of work. I feel like I’ve got a good sense of aesthetics, but I’m learning the rest. I’m exposing myself to a lot of art, I read a lot, go to a lot of exhibitions.

Read more: London to Cornwall in a luxury Mercedes-Benz camper van

LUX: Can you tell us more about your concept for the museum?
Idil Tabanca: We’re from Eskişehir as a family and people from Eskişehir are very proud because it’s like a secular, intellectual, very young and fun town in Turkey. It’s very unique. They say it’s like a European city in Turkey. People are very open minded and because of that, there’s a huge potential for young people. There are also three art universities. My father has always felt that he wanted to give back to that community in some way.

We chose Kengo Kuma, whose work is so iconic, to make the museum iconic. Bilbao was an industrial city before the Guggenheim came and now it’s known as an art destination; I think Eskişehir has that same potential. For a long time in Turkey because of the regime and what’s happened there, there hasn’t been a lot of exciting developments. We also don’t have a huge museum culture. I don’t have any memories of going to museums with my family. I love that we might be able to change that for some people, and to change the place. Having a museum like this, starts an exchange, it becomes a bridge between cultures. For example, we have Kengo Kuma’s work  and we have Japanese artists who are showing. We want different cultures to be able to merge in the space.

Facade of a contemporary building made from wooden panels

Photo by Batuham Keskiner

Contemporary light well inside a building made from wooden panels

Photo by Batuhan Keskiner

LUX: We hear that the museum is also going to have a strong connection with fashion, is that right?
Idil Tabanca: Yes, I want every aspect of the museum to be like an art work in its own right and I’ve got Turkish fashion designer Dilara Findikoglu to design the uniforms for the museum staff. She’s blown up recently and dresses people like Madonna. I think that she’ll be the creative director of somewhere like Alexander McQueen very soon. But the reason for collaborating with her was, firstly, to challenge people. She is completely embraced internationally and keeps winning fashion awards, but in Turkey I feel like it’s part of our culture to be suspicious of anything that’s actually good and we do that to artists too. We don’t appreciate them at home as much as you do in Western culture. In Turkey, there’s no sense of protecting the things that are valuable and that’s the same with ruins even, you’re just allowed to walk all over the place. So I want to work with and give value to artists and designers from our communities that are doing really well outside of the country. That’s the reason we’re putting together a homecoming show to start a dialogue about who we are as a culture and why we don’t appreciate these people or talk abut them. We have local celebrities, but they’re not the people who are making a difference in the world.

Sculpture of a girl asleep on a sofa

‘Sleeping Girl’ by Hans op de Beeck is one of the artworks in the permanent collection. Photo by Kayhan Kaygusuz

LUX: And how will the exhibition programme work?
Idil Tabanca: We have the permanent collection, which will constantly change and be curated by different people and then we’ll have travelling shows and events. Exhibitions by other artists who have nothing to do with the permanent collection. For example, we’re bringing work by Marshmallow Laser Feast (who recently had a VR experience at the Saatchi gallery) to the opening. They’re really interesting because they use technology to bring people back to nature – I’m really excited to collaborate with them. Also the other part which will be so exciting for me is that we’ll get people coming to the museum who haven’t been exposed to anything, we’re going to get such a raw audience.

Portrait painting of a man's head sleeping

One of the selected works from the opening exhibition: Uyuyan Adam (2010) by Ramazan Bayrakoğlu. Image by Ozan Cakmak

LUX: What are local attitudes towards contemporary art? Is there much of an existing art scene?
Idil Tabanca: Yes, there is definitely an art scene. There’s a tiny wooden museum, glass blowing is huge and there are lots of little shops that make ceramics. There’s part of the town which is all these old houses, which look like they would have hundreds of years a go. There’s a wax museum, which is hilarious because no-one looks like they’re supposed to, but it receives 11,000 visitors on the weekend, which demonstrates the lack of cultural activities. But yes, we’re in talks with the art universities. We want to have residency artists that come in from abroad and to give them access to the facilities. We’re also going to organise discussions and education programmes. There’s the only animation studio in Turkey there so there’s definitely a lot of potential.

Read more: Savoir Beds’ MD Alistair Hughes on the value of craftsmanship

LUX: Are there any contemporary Turkish artists that you’re particularly excited about at the moment?
Idil Tabanca: Nilbar Güreş’ work is phenomenal. She’s based in Vienna. Another one of my favourite Turkish artists is Sukran Moral. She’s definitely someone I’d love to bring [to the museum] sometime in the future. She’s pretty established and is currently based in Italy.  She’s fantastic. Also Fatma Bucak is another young Turkish artist that I’d like to bring to the museum. She has some wonderful videos.

Artwork depicting an Asian girl leaning against a white box

‘Aylin’ (2014) by Sinan Demirtaş will also feature in the opening exhibition. Image by Kayhan Kaygusuz

LUX: How much of a consideration is sustainability?
Idil Tabanca: The building is made from sustainable forests, and we are trying to make it all as sustainable as possible, but in a place where that dialogue hasn’t started yet, it’s going to be tougher for us. So we have this task of talking to people and explaining to them why it’s important, why we’re not giving out plastic bags for example. I think it’s the responsibility of institution like ours to be a leader on these kinds of things.

LUX: Lastly, for first time visitors to Eskişehir, what are your hot tips for things to do and see?
Idil Tabanca: Oh my god, there’s so much to do! There’s a really good thermal spa. Then there’s also this fake Disneyland that I think is fascinating. You go and Snow White has her wig on sideways, it’s just a very weird place. The old part of town too where they have all these really cute houses and artists with their own little studios and shops selling handmade things. The area is called Odunpazarı, and it’s so beautiful. The museum is right in the middle of everything so the best way is to just walk around and discover the area.

OMM will officially open in September 2019, for more information visit: omm.art

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Two reflective boxes stacked on top of each other in a white room
Portrait of a young man in front of a geometric art work

Lorenzo Uggeri, founder of online art marketplace Kooness.com

In 2015, Lorenzo Uggeri swapped his job as an analyst in the steel industry to launch an online marketplace for fine art: Kooness.com. The platform now showcases work from over 600 galleries across the globe and last year, Uggeri appeared on Forbes’ prestigious 30 under 30 list in Art & Culture. We put the young entrepreneur in our 6 Questions hot seat.

1. How did you come up with the concept of Kooness?

Four years ago, I was at my friend’s house and a friend of hers gave her a piece of artwork as a gift. We were spending a lot of time trying to understand which wall the artwork should be hung up on in order for it to fit best in the space. At that moment, I thought of the idea to make an app with virtual reality [technology] to understand where the artwork can fit best.

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At that time I was working as an analyst in a big company in the steel industry. After I came up with the idea, I started studying the art business market, in particular the online art market and I found out that there were many different possibilities. I decided to quit my job and move to New York City where I attended a summer course at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art.

While I was in New York, I changed the business plan for Kooness. From the initial idea of virtual reality, I decided that Kooness was going to be an online marketplace where galleries could increase their sales and find collectors, and collectors could find artists and galleries.

A phone held in front of a rendered room

Kooness caters for established and new art collectors, says Uggeri

2. Is the platform designed more for established collectors or new buyers?

Our motto is to transform simple customers today into the collectors of the future. The idea of Kooness is to democratise the art world and give access to people that are not really in the art market. From an outside perspective, the art market appears to be very closed off. People are often afraid to ask about prices and information when they go to galleries, therefore Kooness gives people the possibility to experience the art world in a different way. At the same time, we also have established collectors that use our platform since we work with over 600 galleries in 25 different countries, which gives collectors the chance to see new artwork from smaller galleries and young emerging artists. Therefore, we cater to both new and established collectors.

Two reflective boxes stacked on top of each other in a white room

‘Interno 7’ (2018), Teresa Giannico

Neon artwork of half a face

‘Fragile Gebilde’ (2019), Sali Muller

3. How are online art platforms impacting the larger art market?

Online platforms are completely transforming the art market. Many major auction houses are investing in creating their own online platforms to give clients the possibility to bid directly. The world is constantly becoming more digital and it is necessary for the art world to join in.

When I started Kooness, people were very sceptical since it was a completely new way of doing things and it made them uncomfortable. The segment of our platform is increasing, the revenue is double digits every year. In a couple of years, the revenue will come from the online platforms for galleries, auction houses and collectors inside the art market.

Read more: Savoir Beds’ MD Alistair Hughes on the value of craftsmanship

4. What advice would you give to a first time buyer looking to build a collection?

I would give them the same advice as an experienced collector gave me the first time: buy what you like. I have talked to many experienced collectors, they all have told me the exact same thing: collecting is a process and you will never start out with discovering the new Picasso of this generation as your first piece. When you start collecting, your taste will change and you will start to develop an eye.

5. Which galleries should we be keeping our eye on right now?

I can not really name names as I work with many galleries. I was recently in Basel and there were many amazing galleries there, from established to new. There are also many great galleries from Milan that play an important role in the art world today such as Massimo De Carlo gallery and Francesca Minini. It is quite difficult to suggest a gallery since you find so many different things in each gallery, it depends what you are looking for.

Installation art work featuring everyday objects

‘Reception’ (2018), Daniel Mullen

6. What’s next for Kooness?

We have big plans. By the end of July, we will launch our blog chain platform for the certification of artwork. For a platform like Kooness and I think I can talk of behalf of my competitors as well, it is important to give the collectors something new every 2-3 months since the competition is very high. There are many smart and young people working in the art industry and everyone plays a small part from working the blog chain to working as an advisor. Therefore, it is important to embrace every aspect and include them in one platform, which is what I do with Kooness. I make improvements around every three months to give the collectors and users new ways to experience art in order to provide the best digital art experience.

Discover Kooness: kooness.com

Interview by Andrea Stenslie

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Painting of a group of young women in a bedroom setting
Abstract graphic style painting featuring red vibrant background

‘Dead End’ (2018), Loie Hollowell

Frank Cohen is one of the UK’s most renowned art collectors. Since selling his DIY business in 1997, he has built up a collection of more than 2,000 artworks by classic and contemporary artists. Here, he tells us how he caught the collecting bug, and which destinations are the most interesting for art right now.

Portrait photograph of the profile of a man on the phone

Frank Cohen. Image by Jonathan Straight

1. How did you first get into collecting?

As young as 7 years old I started to collect cigarette packets. In those days there were not so many brands and the cigarette packets had wonderful graphic designs on them. I asked all my aunts and uncles and my mothers friends to save the packets when they had smoked the cigarettes as everyone smoked in those days. 68 years ago it was fashionable and I kept them in mint condition always.

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When I was about 14 years of age I started collecting coins. One day when I went to a cinema in Manchester the cashier gave me a Victorian penny in my change. I had never seen one before so I took it to a numismatist, which was next to the cinema and he gave me half a crown for it! I collected coins for nearly 20 years and had one of the biggest collections of pattern coins in England.

Pattern coins are coins that were presented to the Royal Mint to be picked to go into circulation. I collected the ones that were never put into circulation, making them very rare. There were only about 10 minted of each, one always went to the Victoria & Albert Museum for their collection and the Queen gets one.

Painting of a shipping dock by L.S. Lowry

‘Glasgow Docks’ (1947), L.S. Lowry

2. Do you have an all time favourite artist?

I have all time favourite artists during different times in my collection. When I started collecting there was no contemporary art scene, so I collected Modern British art but if I could have afforded to buy anything I would have bought Picasso or Monet.

When I first started buying I bought Edward Burra, a fantastic English painter who only painted in water colours that looked like oils. I also bought L.S.Lowry, one of the greatest British painters of the last 100 years. In the late ‘70’s I bought Dubuffet and Miró from Leslie Waddington who let me pay for them over 2 or 3 years, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to collect them. Afterwards he offered me Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns and Mark Rothko, that were actually very cheap but I still couldn’t afford them. Today they are worth millions! You win some and lose some and I don’t regret anything or anything I bought.

3. If your collection could speak, what would it say about you?

My collections speak to me and my wife Cherryl, who has always been very important and supportive in my career. We’ve really collected together. I don’t care what anybody else thinks. It would say to me ‘I love you because you have made the right choice’.

Abstract painting featuring multiple figures in pink, red and blue

‘La Vie en Rose’ (1980), Jean Dubuffet

4. What’s the most interesting destination for art right now and why?

I suppose the Far East is an interesting destination right now for buyers but because the world is global there are some really good artists coming through from Brazil, Africa, Thailand and Romania. America, Germany and London, France and Italy were always at the forefront.

Read more: Contemporary ceramicist Edmund de Waal at The Frick Collection, NYC

5. Have you ever doubted your artistic judgment?

I have never doubted my artistic judgment because it’s me buying the artist. To put it another way I have bought some terrible things over the years and some great things – how do you judge it, how much money is it worth? I have done very well but I haven’t bought for that reason. I have artists that will never ever increase in value but I love them still.

Painting of a group of young women in a bedroom setting

‘Anonymous Now’ (2019), Chloe Wise

6. What’s your exhibition recommendation for this year?

My recommendations for this year mean nothing except to me, as no doubt people that read this article will naturally have a different view. Besides all the classic artists I have collected over the years, I have also bought young artists as well right now like Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Alex de Corte, Chloe Wise, William Monk and Loie Hollowell.

Read more of our 6 Questions interviews here

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Portrait of chinese art collector Kelly Ying
Sign for Art021 art fair in front of a water fountain and skyscrapers

Art021 is a contemporary art fair in Shanghai set up by art collector Kelly Ying and her husband

Co-founder of Shanghai’s contemporary art fair Art021, Kelly Ying is considered one of the most influential young art collectors in China. Here, we speak to Ying about art collecting, love at first sight and supporting young artists.

Portrait of art collector Kelly Ying

Kelly Ying

1. You used to work in fashion industry, what made you want to start collecting contemporary art and do you see a connection between the two worlds?

I think there are definitely connections between art and fashion, and we need to explore that more. I started to collect art many years ago because of my family. My mom and my husband [David Chau] have a strong influence on my collection and collecting decisions.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

2. What draws you to an artwork? Do you think your tastes tend towards a particular aesthetic?

I believe in “love at first sight”, therefore the initial emotional and aesthetical chemistry of an artwork is very important to me. As a woman myself, emotions play a significant part in my collecting decisions. However, I also try to balance emotions with intellectual analysis, looking at artists’ background, past exhibitions, exposures, etc. Recently I’m really attached to artists working with different media, multi-media and mix-media works.

3. Why did you decide to set up Art021?

My husband, Bao Yifeng and I all thought that there should be a high-quality contemporary art fair in Shanghai at the time. We felt the urge, and we got the courage, so we made ART021 happen.

Portrait of chinese art collector Kelly Ying

Originally working in the fashion industry, Ying is now focusing entirely on art.

4. Which artists are exciting you at the moment?

Many artists excite me. I like young artists. I find Chinese artists like Li Qing and Zhao Yao very interesting. During my recent trips to LA, I discovered that there are lots of talented young artists based in LA who deserve more attention. I also like artists like Amalia Pica and Ryan Gander, who make very conceptual artworks.

5. What advice would you give to young collectors?

I think young collectors should just get out, look at art and visit lots of exhibitions and fairs. It’s also important for them to talk more often with the right person in the art world.

6. What gets you up in the morning?

A nice cup of coffee!

Follow Kelly Ying on Instagram: @kellyyingxoxo

Art021 runs from 7-10 November 19, for more information visit: art021.org

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Henrik Uldalen at work in the studio

The JD Malat Gallery opens with an exhibition by an artist discovered on Instagram

Jean-David Malat is known for championing emerging artists, although with some 666k Instagram followers (at the time of writing) Henrik Uldalen is hardly operating in the realms of obscurity. The London-based Norwegian artist’s exhibition ‘Metanoia’ is the JD Malat Gallery’s debut exhibition – a collection of striking oil paintings depicting half-obscured human figures undergoing a moment of transformation (hence the exhibition’s title, meaning ‘a change of mind’).

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If you were fortunate enough to be one of the first 30 to step through the gallery’s doors you will have been handed an Uldalen print, if not the works displayed in the gallery are for sale including those in the group exhibition on the lower level, which features Lithuanian-born artist Edgar Askelovic (the man behind the full-body sculpture of singer Rihanna) amongst many others.

Flood by Henrik Uldalen

Inhale by Henrik Uldalen

Flutter by Henrik Uldalen

JD Malat Gallery is located on 30 Davies Street, London, W1K 4NB. For more information on exhibitions and opening times visit: jdmalat.com

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3D image of an orchid by Rob Munday

3D lenticular print of a slipper orchid from the 2016 series ‘Naturalium’ by Rob Munday, launched at Photo London 2017

How would you like your children’s portrait done – in oils, large-format photography,or 3D hologram? LUX Editor-at-Large Gauhar Kapparova meets Tamara Beckwith, the London society art dealer who represents Rob Munday, holographic artist extraordinaire
Rob Munday's holographic portrait of the queen of England

Artist Rob Munday

If, as a creator of portraits for global high society, you had to choose two subjects to star in your portfolio, you couldn’t do much better than Karl Lagerfeld and the Queen Elizabeth II.

And that is precisely who is on show, in 3D, downstairs at Tamara Beckwith’s chic The Little Black Gallery in west London. Beckwith, who has transformed from It Girl to charity supremo and art dealer over the past decade, represents Rob Munday, the near-legendary holograph and graphic artist.

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Munday was commissioned by Chanel and AnOther Magazine to create a portrait for a limited-run holographic cover for its 15th anniversary issue. And before that, he had worked with graphic designer-artist Chris Levine to create an official holographic portrait of the Queen.

Other subjects have included Angelina Jolie, musicians Noel and Liam Gallagher, sports presenter and former England football star Gary Lineker, and children’s author Michael Morpurgo.

Karl Lagerfeld portraiture for AnOther Magazine by artist Rob Munday

A portrait of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld by Rob Munday, commissioned for the 15th anniversary issue of AnOther Magazine in 2016 and used for a 3D lenticular image

Now you can have Munday create a holo-portrait of you, your children or anyone else in your life – although not pets. “We are now doing private commissions,” says Beckwith, “and we are getting lots of interest from my friends who are men who have beautiful wives and children.”

 Read next: President of Pace Gallery Marc Glimcher on making art for all

Beckwith is herself a collector of photography. She says she started collecting the likes of Terry O’Neill, Robert Doisneau and Horst P. Horst when she was young and adds that she was taken by Munday’s work because it was portraiture. “I don’t like anything abstract, it leaves me cold. Even if I go around a beautiful exhibition and someone is explaining to me how clever the artist was and how he was the first person to paint something like this, I’m like, really?”

Angelina Jolie portraiture by artist Rob Munday for Guerlain fragrance campaign

Munday’s 2017 portrait (made with Willy Camden) of actress Angelina Jolie has been used in a Guerlain fragrance campaign

As well as her evident passion for portraiture, Beckwith will also bring her formidable contact book to bear on the project. Munday will not be producing many private commissions –they will be for just the right people. Beckwith, who also runs a society charity event every year in aid of the Gynaecological Cancer Fund, knows exactly who they are.

Rob Munday is represented by The Little Black Gallery, thelittleblackgallery.com

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Berber woman by Moroccan artist Ghizlan El Glaoui
mosaic style portrait of a Berber woman by Ghizlan El Glaoui

Portrait of a Berber woman by Ghizlan El Glaoui

Moroccan artist Ghizlan El Glaoui, daughter of renowned painter Hassan El Glaoui and granddaughter of Thami El Glaoui, the last Pasha of Marrakech, is fascinated with faces and finding beauty in the world. Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai speaks to the artist about her artistic childhood, African art and her portrait wish-list.
Morroccan artist Ghizlan El Glaoui painting in her studio

Ghizlan El Glaoui at work in the studio

Darius Sanai: How long have you been living and working in London?
Ghizlan El Glaoui: It’s been 21 years now. I studied and married in Paris and then decided to move to England due to a job offer for my husband. I’ve been here ever since – I like London and was so happy to move away from France. I am half French, but lived in Morocco for most of my life so the French was still foreign to me – even though I had a French mother. When I was in Paris, I suddenly realised that my French side of my personality was not as developed as I thought. I always felt like a foreigner to the Parisians. By experiencing Paris, I always loved people from the South and that the people from the North were very different, so I remained big friends with the South of France. But when I moved to London, I just thought, this is it.

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DS: You come from a great artistic heritage and you are both an artist and a collector, how has that developed? When did you start doing what and how did it all start?
GEG: I had an artistic father and grandfather. I was always surrounded by their art, influences and admiration of arts. I grew up with these passions. I became my father’s muse, posing for his portraits. My father was my first tutor and he knew of such amazing artists himself that I had 4-5 tutors in the room while watching him paint. You have to watch a lot when you’re posing there is nothing else to do, you can’t move, so I observed the way he was looking at me and all the other things around it as well. I have kept this passion of portraiture and so I started to have this need to express myself through artistic means. I was a pianist as well so I suppose it was evident that I had this ability with arts in general. This is why I wanted to study art in general in Paris. The academy I went to taught you art, but also prepared you for finding a job afterwards. Half of it was very intense art courses and the other half was learning how to make a magazine, learning about typography.

DS: When you were a student, did you think you would become an artist or was it just a passion?
GEG: It’s difficult to say. I was never really good at doing what I was asked to do, but what is interesting is that the project we had to do in our last year was about mosaic. We had to take an image and reproduce it on a much bigger scale. We had to cut the pain ourselves, into squares, and had to recreate that mosaic with different tones. I remember very well that I chose an incredibly good-looking model that was posing at the time for all the Armani perfume campaigns. His face was absolutely gorgeous! Since then I have readapted this technique to my own, now I don’t cut the squares, I paint them directly onto the linen.

I painted more after having kids, when I had the time to develop my artistic career. It has been a passion and a hobby for many years and only when my girls started going to school did I have the time to further develop the presence of my art in London, which I hadn’t done before. I was very present in St Tropez and other places where my name perhaps had more meaning. After Morocco, Madrid and other places, I thought London would be a good place. At the time, London was very British orientated in terms of art, focussing on British artists. As a foreigner, it was quite a trick to get into the English art world, so I didn’t want to try until I had proven myself in other places before. More recently, my sister opened the 154 African Art fair which has been hugely successful, so there clearly is international demand for top African artists.

DS: African art is a very broad definition, is that how you define yourself?
GEG: Not at all. I paint beauty, that’s how I define it. On the subject of African art, the King of Morocco is trying his best to create an Africa where Morocco is included. I think Morocco is very different to other places in Africa. It has so much history and culture. I think it’s a very special place and should remain as such. Everybody wants to collect African art now, my sister started it, and at the time nobody wanted to go to her first show. Now, the trend is so big that even Sotheby’s and Christie’s are telling you about their African collections that apparently they have had for years, but never showed. Suddenly they are all becoming experts! Obviously, it is incredibly important to show art from African artists, as it should be seen by everyone around the world.

Portrait of a woman by Moroccan artist Ghizlan El Glaoui

Blue Blossom by Ghizlan El Glaoui

DS: Do you define yourself as Moroccan or a school of Moroccan art? Is that more accurate?
GEG: I would say, my father always had a fight with the school of Moroccan art, because they never gave him the credit of Moroccan art. They always got jealous, as he was in Paris and had incredible links and connections with artists, even before he was 30. They never considered him as an official part of the Moroccan trend of artists. They put him aside and excluded him in exhibitions in the past. They were very worried that my father has a special position. I do think he deserved it and he did have it. He’s been so successful and has been so incredibly grateful to his country – making it shine all over the world – he’s done that through his talent. To watch him and his career at this stage, I can only be very proud.

Darius Sanai: Would you put yourself in the same category?
Ghizlan El Glaoui: I cannot. I have his art on my walls! I think the big force of my father was that he was so modest. He never believed a painting was finished and he never wanted to sell his art – he was very shy of being in the limelight.

DS: How do you artistic styles compare?
GEG: I took all the positive things that I had learned from my dad and my method has been the same since art school. I paint the same square method and my technique, which is from art school onwards, is to paint on the other side of the canvas, because I don’t like white – it does not inspire me. This comes from my dad as well, his teacher would always prepare the back of the painting before she decided what she was going to paint on it. She would use all the old tubes and palettes to create the next painting, so she wouldn’t waste any paint – everything would be used. We have a cat at the house, which everybody loved. The teacher created a grey background and then she decided to put that cat on it, it looked so incredible! It stayed with me that you have to prepare your background before you paint it.

Read next: Richard Mille’s latest brand ambassador, Olympic athlete Mutaz Essa Barshim on the importance of timing

Many years later, I discovered the light for the background of my paintings – day light, night light, because I wanted my paintings to show different faces. I then realised I could put lights behind it and achieve as many faces as I wanted – not just day and night by this incredible engineering of light. I was also always really fascinated by mosaics in churches and how the light would come through the glasses. I think my artistic style represents who I am and where I come from, it stands for everything I like which I’ve melted together. My technique is based of all my inspirations, melted together and I’m always trying to represent beauty. I think there are so many horrors in the world that we now live in, so it is the artist’s job to bring joy and pleasure. I’m not an artist who destroys beauty – I’m not Picasso. There are so many perfections, to me, in the world. I need to make everything beautiful. This is what I do when I tackle a project. Right now I’m doing a series on Indians in America and make them shine again – giving them their moment, because we always forget how we built our new world; it was by destroying another race. I want them to shine again with their culture, their beautiful costumes, their attitudes, their pride – so many things I admire from this population.

Ghizlan El Glaoui berber woman portrait

Portrait of Berber woman by Ghizlan El Glaoui

DS:  Where do you take inspiration? Where do you get your ideas from?
GEG: That’s a very good question. I have waiting lists in my mind of people I plan to paint one day. Some days I think about the news and that will make someone move up in the list. Sometimes I look at my past work to maybe develop those ideas. I have a friend who works at Dior now, so I’d like to look at this vintage fashion dresses from Dior – that could be an interesting project to work on. My ideas come from lots of different things. Charlie Chaplin is on my list. I haven’t done many men yet. I’d also like to paint Winston Churchill with his cigar.

DS: You mention beauty, is this very important for your art?
GEG: Yes, I have a big sense of aesthetic beauty. My mother thought we were all muses of Botticelli and her passion of art, I think, influenced her children – we even looked like Botticelli models with the same type of hair. I think my interest is a combination of my mum’s aesthetic and my dad’s aesthetic. My need for beauty is from my childhood. There were also beautiful mosaics everywhere in our buildings, my mum had a big collection of furniture so I was lucky enough to always be surrounded by lovely things and I want to reproduce this beauty.

DS: And what are you most excited about creating for next year?
GEG: I would like to do a beautiful exhibition of Berber ladies from the south of my country, Morocco.

ghizlanelglaoui.com

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Reading time: 9 min
Mario Testino fashion photographs on display at the Dubai Design District in 2016
Erik Bulatov paintings at de Pury de Pury in London, installation view

Three paintings by Russian artist Erik Bulatov in his 2015 show ‘Bot’ at de Pury de Pury in London

The time is right for the art auction world to embrace the new digital technologies and take auctions online. That is the way to tap the vast reserves of potential new buyers, says our columnist Simon de Pury

Conceptually, I find myself fascinated by what is happening in the online world within the art market. This is a market that has been the most resistant of any to the digital revolution. And the likely cause of this is that it’s in nobody’s interest, in terms of the market’s key players, to make any changes to the way the system works.

But progress cannot be postponed forever. We have seen the rise of a number of companies that have focused on the online side of the art world. The pioneer of all of them, artnet.com, started 27 years ago with a price guide for artists’ works. For having information at your fingertips, they were the pioneer. Then you have companies in the auction space such as Artsy, Paddle8 (which recently merged with another online auction company, Auctionata) and Artspace which is also doing online auctions. The main auction houses also have an online side to their business.

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The difficulty that the main bricks-and-mortar houses have is that the minute they have a really exciting collection or group of works, their own specialists will fight to have it in their main sales rather than seeing it go to the houses’s online business. So already they effectively have internal competition built in.

Recently I teamed up with Arnaud Massenet, a co-founder with his ex-wife Nathalie Massenet of Net-a-Porter. Arnaud is a passionate collector with a strong interest in art, and so we have put on a number of auctions which we have held online with our company, de Pury de Pury. I also conducted the three first annual benefit auctions for the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. The first two were bricks-and-mortar auctions at which we raised $26m and $40m respectively. With the third one, which we did both live and with an online component, we raised $48m for the foundation. There were challenges such as having to develop a site that could handle the massive increase of traffic you can expect if you have a project involving a celebrity of the stature of DiCaprio. It was a good stress test for the online infrastructure. We have also used a mix of live and online sales for benefit auctions such as for the Fondation Beyeler in Basel.

Right now we believe in this hybrid model, but when you sell art works of quality, and when you put sales together that have been curated, you have to give the chance to potential buyers, if they wish, to see the works physically. You cannot just dispense altogether with offering that possibility to your potential purchasers. The approach is very much to have a stunningly staged physical exhibition, and at the same time, as enticing as possible an experience for the user who will participate solely online.

When you buy and sell artworks at a price range between $10k and $2m at auction with the main houses, you have to leave quite a considerable amount on the table in terms of the buyer’s premiums that need to be paid – 25% on top of the hammer price. Surely for works in that price bracket there must be a more efficient way of selling art, which should eventually put pressure on the commissions.

While the very top end of the market will always be about privileged personal relationships rather than internet sales, I believe that over the next two to five years we will witness a big transformation of the art market, involving a massive increase of its online component.

Read next: The greatest tasting of Masseto in history

At the moment, when you look at an auction online you have a very static image of the auctioneer and the experience is rather boring. This could quite easily be made to be much more lively, fun and animated to engage those who might bid from their office, home or swimming pool or from wherever they are following the sale. This will no doubt happen very soon. Online auctions will become a little more like some of the talk shows on American television, which are live and where you have a studio audience. Having an audience creates the atmosphere that comes across when you watch the programme, with laughing, cheering and clapping, so making it more of a show.

This is not so much of a radical transformation as some people may think. The big auctions now are packed with people filling the sales room, but as soon as you get above a certain price level most of the action takes place on the telephone. You just have the trade and some collectors who want to follow the market closely who remain in the room. So the challenge is to convey the atmosphere of what is happening and the mood of the room. The more successfully you can convey this, the easier it will be for people to get that feel without physically being there.

Mario Testino fashion photographs on display at the Dubai Design District in 2016

Photographs from Mario Testino’s show ‘Heat’ at the Dubai Design District, 2016

A key element is trust. The reason why some online auction companies have not been successful yet is that there is no trust in their expertise or track record. It is essential that such a record is established so that trust develops. A lot will be down to curating: at the moment online art and auction sites just have too much content, and need to have a clear curatorial vision. Once a track record for both buying and selling is established, it becomes much easier, because before that point is reached, you have to make ten times the effort for a tenth of the result. From my 16 years at Sotheby’s, I know that when you work for one of the main players of the duopoly [Sotheby’s and Christie’s], 80 to 90 per cent of the interesting works automatically cross your desk. You just have to make sure that you win slightly more often than you lose. What you lose gets sold by the other auction house. It is difficult for a newcomer in the online world to crack that.

Certain genres of work such as editions, prints and photographs lend themselves to online sales because, while you still need to get a condition report, you will likely have already seen works from that edition so know exactly what they look like. The minute you venture into genres where uniqueness plays a role, such as paintings or other one-off artworks, it changes. Also, the borders between various categories of contemporary culture are breaking down, so architecture, cinema, fashion and music now all cross over with art. We will have many more collaborations between these categories and the internet lends itself to this situation, as breaking down these barriers is done so much more easily online than in the bricks-and-mortar world.

The entry point of the internet is much less forbidding to those who fear crossing the threshold into the art world. It is much less intimidating than going into an auction house and brings many new potential buyers to the market. In one year, the number of individual clients at one of the big auction houses may be around 20,000 – that is an estimate, but in any case it’s a very small number and shows you how that the art market has a massive potential to grow. There is a very small group of individuals who are willing to pay $100m, or more, on a single work. There are slightly more people who are willing to pay $50m on a single work. Further down the scale, you have more people still who are willing to pay $10m, and many players at $1m. There is a huge number of people who do not collect or buy at all and who have no interest, to date, in spending part of their wealth on art. That suggests that the potential growth of the auction market is substantial, and new technologies are the best way to enlarge that art-buying public.

Simon de Pury is an art auctioneer and collector and the founder of de Pury de Pury
 depurydepury.com

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Reading time: 7 min

Olivia Palermo

Narmina Marandi, Emilia Wickstead and Alice Naylor-Leyland

Erin O’Connor

Velvet, florals and Swarovski pearls, Emilia Wickstead unveiled her stunning Autumn/Winter collection at London Fashion week to a star-studded front row.

With London Fashion Week over and Milan and Paris to come, what was the pick of the shows so far? LUX loved Emilia Wickstead’s A/W line, which showed this sophisticated designer also has a decontractée side

Read next: Model of the month and lifestyle blogger, Joanna Halpin on inspiration

 

Eleanor Tomlinson

Narmina Marandi and Emilia Wickstead

Alexa Chung

And we enjoyed saying hello to the always-personable New Zealand-born designer and some of her friends afterwards – Emilia dresses, and attracts, a high calibre of woman, including the Duchess of Cambridge. From supermodel Erin O’Connor to art collector and investor Narmina Marandi, this was a crowd as cerebral as it was stylish. Haute style indeed – a match for Paris or Milan, upcoming.

Emilia Wickstead’s A/W Collection

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