art gallery
art gallery

Mucciaccia Gallery is delighted to present the exhibition Tête-à-tête in its gallery in Rome, curated by Catherine Loewe

Tête-à-Tête is an exhibition that explores the private and creative lives of contemporary artist couples.  Here LUX speaks to curator Catherine Loewe about the inspiration behind the show and the fascinating connections between the work of these modern-day duos.

The exhibition Tête-à-tête sizzles through the summer months in the heart of Rome at Mucciaccia Gallery, providing a rare glimpse into the world of creative couples where love, life and art collide. The show features eight acclaimed international contemporary couples whose multi-disciplinary work is placed in dialogue with each other.

The title from the French expression “head to head’ refers to the conversations and dynamic interplay that has such a significant impact on their practices, whether working individually or in collaboration.  In an ever-evolving cultural landscape, this exhibition examines how artists navigate the complexities of relationships while pushing the boundaries of artistic expression in the 21st century.

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LUX:  Where did the inspiration for the show come from?

Catherine Loewe: I’ve always been fascinated by the passionate stories of artist couples who played a key role in the development of avant-garde art.  These revolutionary couples reflected the shifting structure of both art and society, like Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin, Josef and Anni Albers, Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning, who rode the wave of radical thinking in the wake of Cubism, Bauhaus and Surrealism.

There was a fantastic exhibition at the Barbican that covered this topic and I wanted to bring the narrative up to date with contemporary artists.   I was also inspired by Vasari’s incredible work the Lives of the Artists which so memorably set forth the connections between artists lives and their works, in many ways providing a template for art historical documentation right up to the present day.

art gallery

The exhibition brings together eight internationally acclaimed contemporary artist couples, featuring multi- disciplinary work, including photography, textiles, sculpture, painting and digital art.

LUX:  How did you select the artist couples?

CL: I was looking to include artists working across variety of disciplines from painting, sculpture, textiles and photography to convey an overview of artistic practices today.  I was greatly supported by Maryam Eisler, whose incredible photographic portraits feature as part of the show and the accompanying catalogue.

Thanks to Maryam we included pioneering artists who have witnessed seismic social, political and cultural changes like Emilia and Ilya Kabakov, the hugely influential conceptual artists whose story began in Soviet era Russia. Also, Iranian couple Shirin Neshat and Shoja Anzari, whose powerful and poetic film and photographic work centres around issues of exile, oppression and resilience.

These artists couples have truly created a lasting legacy for future generations.  British artist Rob and Nick Carter have worked in collaboration for over 25 years, pioneering cutting-edge digital techniques and more recently exploring notions of authorship through the use of robots.

The paintings in the show based on Venus, Botticelli’s rendition reprised by Andy Warhol were executed by a six-axis robot called Heidi, switching brushes and colours using hundreds of thousands of lines of bespoke software code – something I think would have amazed both Botticelli and Warhol.

art pieces

As the title which refers to the French expression “head to head’ suggests, the exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the dynamics behind artist relationships, revealed through intimate conversations with them.

Read more: Dakis Joannou interview in Hydra

LUX:  Were there other artists you would have liked to include?

CL: It is a big theme and there are many artists we could have shown like Bharti Kher and Subodh Gupta, Elmgreen and Dragset, John Currin and Rachel Feinstein, Rashid Johnson and Sheri Hovsepian to name but a few – perhaps for an enlarged version of the show.

LUX:  Had all the artists shown together before?

CL: Charlotte and Philip Colbert had never shown together, although both fascinatingly share a subversive and surreal outlook, curiously mirroring each other with their chosen symbols, in Charlotte’s case the all-seeing eye, uterus, and breast and Philip’s the lobster, cactus and shark.

These motifs are seamlessly fused in their house which is a work of art in itself filled to the rafters with their art and designs – my favourite being a bathtub called Mother’s Milk made up of over a hundred silicone breasts.

LUX:  How has being together influenced the work of the artists?

CL: Creatively, these partnerships clearly act as a catalyst for artistic growth and exploration, the constant exchange of ideas is something one cannot achieve alone.  Whilst some couples maintain separate practices and others collaborate, the way they bounce ideas of each other creates this dynamic flow which translated into their work often produces major breakthroughs.

Of course, there are also rivalries, and I love the stormy life of Italian painters Pizzi Cannella and Rosella Fumasoni who so evocatively sums it up saying, “Talent always needs company. The beauty of having an artist close to you is the mindless mutual trust in the invisible.”

art pieces

With works displayed in dialogue with each other, the exhibition explores how the creative interplay between these couples has impacted their practices

LUX: How did you tackle the issues of gender inequality?

CL: For centuries the prevailing concept of the male genius meant that women’s careers were eclipsed by their ‘famous’ partners, whilst they were locked in the roles of mistress, muse or mother.  Such was the case with Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner or the often toxic relationship between Pablo Picasso and Francoise Gilot – both women are only now receiving long overdue recognition.

Today these issues are certainly being vigorously addressed but still not fully resolved, for instance Sue Arrowsmith struggled to gain exposure in contrast to the meteoric career of Ian Davenport, who was one of the YBA’s in Damien Hirst’s circle.

What did however become apparent whilst doing this show is the huge amount of love, support and resilience these couples have in the face of many challenges both creative and personal.

The interviews reveal how much of a juggling act being an artist couple can be, particularly with the demands of a hectic international exhibition schedule and a young family – more like the collision of love, art and life!

art pieces

The exhibition in Rom opens its doors from the 10th May until the 2nd August 2024

LUX: What did you most enjoy about this show?

CL: It is beautiful to see the synergies between the works of these artists – like the striking geometric sculptures of Conrad Shawcross juxtaposed with the tactile, abstract hand stitched pieces by Carolina Mazzolari – a visual yin and yang both in their respective ways profoundly philosophical.

art gallery visitors

The guest enjoyed the Tête-à-tête exhibition at the Mucciaccia Gallery

Or the singing colours of Annie Morris stacked spheres in conversation with the hovering hues of Idris Khan which are so full of emotional and spiritual yearning, charting their experiences of love, loss, and catharsis.  Sue Arrowsmith and Ian Davenport have created paintings especially for the show that explore the interplay of colour, form and space take inspiration from the work of Fra Angelico fusing Sue’s use of shimmering gold leaf and Ian’s interest in the palette of Old Masters.

I also really enjoyed spending time with the artists in their homes and studios, doing photo-shoots and interviews, which I tried to keep quite light-hearted, but which turned out to be surprisingly revealing.

Tête-à-tête runs until 2 August 2024, at the Mucciaccia Gallery, Rome

mucciaccia.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

A drawing of a man

Illustration of Maurizio Cattelan
by Jonathan Newhouse, 2023

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

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A banana taped to the wall

Comedian, 2019, by Maurizio Cattelan

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

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

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

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

A man hanging from a green bathroom

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read more: An Interview with William Kentridge

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

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

three men standing together

Darius Sanai with Maurizio Cattelan
and Pierpaolo Ferrari

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

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

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

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

toiletpapermagazine.org

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

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

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Reading time: 10 min
gallery
gallery

The current exhibition at Lucca Hue-Williams gallery “Albion Jeune” are paintings from saudi-arbian artist Alia Ahmad

Lucca Hue-Williams, London’s coolest young gallerist, reopens her Albion Jeune gallery with an exhibition by emerging Saudi artist Alia Ahmad which transposes a vibrant colour palette on her homeland’s desert landscapes

“Thought to Image” is intriguing as an ode to Saudi Arabia’s deserts and its rapidly growing metropolises. Ahmad’s work is a tribute not just to modern, rapidly developing Saudi but to an ancient land that is both rediscovered and lost in today’s rapid development.

paintings

Alia Ahmad aims to investigate the balance between natural elements, such as light and plants, by painting them even more explicitly.

It is also a sellout show for one of the world’s most exciting young gallerists, who is developing a reputation for discovering and nurturing talent from around the world. Ahmad herself, gently and wittily subversive, was at the opening herself.

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

art gallery

The Albion jeune art gallery is located at 16 -17 Little Portland Street in London

Her use of colour and texture is just as fascinating, particularly where the trees (or long objects) are rooted. These maximalist shapes and colours certainly give a sense of busyness; just that of a major, populated city. However, these colours are not particularly telling of the buildings’ rather monotonous, gray and urbanised design. In using this style, Ahmad simultaneously captures the modern denseness and the cultural history of Sadu; these colours take from the embroidery from Saudi, an ancient tribal weaving craft by the Bedouin people.

Read more: Leading MACAN, Indonesia’s first contemporary art museum

woman and man in front of an art gallery

Lucca Hue-Williams, the owner of the Albion Jeune art gallery in London, at the exhibition opening evening

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Reading time: 1 min
man and woman sitting next to each other
man and woman sitting next to each other

Magnus Renfrew has twenty years’ experience in the international art world, the last decade of which have been spent in Asia

Magnus Renfrew knows about art fairs in Asia. He co-founded Art Hong Kong (now Art Basel Hong Kong) and has launched numerous other fairs in the region. He speaks with LUX about Art SG, the fair he and his partners launched in Singapore as a hub for Southeast Asia, the Asian art market, and the future of art fairs

LUX: Do you think Singapore will become an art and/or cultural hub for Southeast Asia? Why did you choose Singapore rather than (for example) Bangkok, Jakarta, or KL?

Magnus Renfrew: Each city is unique with individual strengths and spheres of influence. Singapore is the gateway to Southeast Asia and as the de facto hub for the region, which has a population of 650 million people nearing the size of Europe, so logic dictates that it too should host an international art fair to serve a region that has some of the fastest growing economies in the world. What’s more, Southeast Asia has a diverse and exciting range of cultural ecosystems, and we want to bring together these communities alongside the international art world. Singapore has exceptional infrastructure and transport links, great hotels and restaurants, English is commonly spoken, Mandarin is commonly spoken. All these factors make it an exceptional place to host a major international art fair.

Furthermore, Singapore has a strong local art scene, with local galleries and considerable government investment in art and culture, which sees an active interest in growing the ecosystem in the city. The city’s cultural landscape is developing rapidly with world class museums such as the National Gallery of Singapore, Singapore Art Museum, alongside a growing cluster of commercial galleries, and an increasingly engaged community of collectors. We saw the successful launch of our inaugural edition last year, and I am excited to see the fair continue to develop against this exciting backdrop.

The case for Singapore is continuing to build as it gains greater importance geo-economically, geo-politically and as the Asia centre of wealth management. Singapore is in the ascent in every aspect and culture will inevitably be a part of that story.

LUX: You have significant fairs in Japan and Taiwan. What is the secret of a successful art fair in East Asia?

MR: It is important to have a solid premise for the fair, to identify the natural catchment area, to focus on who the fair serves, and to build domestic and regional support from all stakeholders – the government, galleries, collectors, and institutions. There are no shortcuts and it takes time to build.

What are the differences between Art SG and Art HK at a similar stage?

MR: The overall context of the art market in Asia is of course very different and the collector base across Asia has developed out of all recognition. In a very short space of time ART SG has successfully been able to attract a geographically diverse audience from across Southeast Asia and beyond. The context for ART SG is very different. When we started ART HK there were few institutions and an art scene heavily focused on auctions – it is arguable that ART HK played a significant role in building the case for Hong Kong as a cultural hub and in encouraging collectors to understand the importance of the gallery system. Singapore’s art scene is much more established than Hong Kong was when we launched, with a vibrant gallery scene and exceptional institutions, as well as a pro-active private collectors and foundations. This was reflected in the extraordinary diversity and quality of offerings during Singapore Art Week.

ART SG has its own distinctive identity as an important meeting point for collectors and art lovers from Southeast Asia and around the world by bringing together the best of regional and international galleries and artists, alongside dynamic programming to deepen understanding of its cultural context.

Follow LUX on instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Second year of Art SG saw some galleries (Perrotin, Zwirner, Esther Schipper) not return – why? Will they be back?

MR: Galleries have a host of different reasons that play into their decision making including their own programming. Pace is going to be opening their space in Tokyo this year, so they will be participating in Tokyo Gendai for the first time. Perrotin has chosen to do Taipei Dangdai and Tokyo Gendai this year. A number of galleries who chose to sit out ART SG this year visited the Fair and expressed how impressed they were with the quality of attendance, the buzz and the energy. I would anticipate that we will be working again with those galleries in Singapore and elsewhere in the future.

Colourful art

Southeast Asia’s leading international art fair (ART SG), attracted 43’000 visitors in 2023.

LUX: How did this year’s edition do, commercially?

MR: We are delighted by the response to the second edition of ART SG. Throughout the fair’s four days, galleries reported speedy and sustained sales, with works placed in major private and institutional collections. Galleries highlighted an enthusiastic response from both established and emerging collectors from all corners of the world, with many noting that ART SG had provided a great platform for meeting new collectors.

A snapshot of reported sales include: Thaddeaus Ropac sold a work by Anselm Kiefer for EUR 1.1 million, alongside works by Lee Bul, Miquel Barceló, Jules de Balincourt, Alex Katz, Oliver Beer, Mandy El-Sayegh, and James Rosenquist; Sundaram Tagore sold a range of works by Hiroshi Senju, Jane Lee, Miya Ando, and Zheng Lu for a combined total of over USD 1 million; White Cube sold works by Tracey Emin, Jessica Rankin, and Darren Almond, among others for a combined total of GBP 1.5 million; Waddington Custot sold two sculptures by Barry Flanagan, including a work sold for USD 680,000 to a Chinese resident of Singapore, an installation featured as part of PLATFORM by Ian Davenport sold for USD 360,000 and two sculptures by Yves Dana, including a work for sold for USD 92,000 to a collector based in Singapore; Lehmann Maupin sold a number of works, including a painting by David Salle sold for USD 250,000 to a prominent family collection in Singapore, alongside multiple works by Lee Bul and Kim Yun Shin for prices within the range of USD 200,000 – 300,000 and USD 60,000 – 90,000 respectively; Johyun Gallery sold a number of works, including a painting by Park Seo-Bo for USD 250,000 and multiple works by Lee Bae for prices in the range of USD 50,000 – 180,000 each; The Back Room placed an installation by Marcos Kueh featured as part of PLATFORM to an institution in Singapore with a price range between SGD 50,000 – 100,000; First-time participant Sabrina Amrani sold three works by Carlos Aires within a price range of USD 27,000 – 60,000 to private collectors in Singapore; Asia Art Center sold a number of key works by Li Chen and three works from Ju Ming’s Tai Chi Series, all of which have been acquired by private collectors, with a total value of around USD 600,000; Waterhouse & Dodd sold four works by Duncan McCormick to private collectors in the UK, South Korea, Italy and Hong Kong for a combined total of USD 150,000; albertz benda reported a sold-out presentation of three new paintings and four mixed-media watercolours by Australian painter Del Kathryn Barton to a Chinese collector on the opening day; Carl Kostyál reported a sold-out booth of Indonesian artist Atreyu Moniaga, with works priced at USD 18,000 each; Harper’s sold a painting by Eliot Greenwald for USD 40,000 and a painting by Marcus Brutus for USD 32,000; and MAKASIINI CONTEMPORARY sold works by Nir Hod and Jacob Hashimoto for USD 68,000 and USD 40,000 to private collectors in Singapore and Belgium respectively.

Read more: Shangri-La, Singapore, Review

LUX: Some collectors said to us that official programming for significant collectors was limited compared with early years of Art HK. How would you respond to this?

MR: Within ART SG’s bespoke VIP program, collectors were able to tap into a vibrant and dynamic line up of art events, openings, and after-parties to enrich their experience of the overall fair and art week, including private collection visits in collectors’ residences, artist studio visits, gallery openings, and more. Collectors were able to RSVP to openings and curator-led tours of private collection and foundation exhibitions such as Translations: Afro-Asian Poetics by non-profit collector-led foundation The Institutum, curated by Dr Zoe Whitley, director of Chisenhale Gallery, London, Rough, presented by The Pierre Lorinet Collection, and Chronic Compulsions presented by The Private Museum, as well as tours of major museum exhibitions at the National Gallery of Singapore and Singapore Art Museum. There were after-hours events including specially curated art parties at the National Gallery Singapore, ArtScience Museum, and Soho Residency, and a young collectors’ party at a spectacular new venue with views over the Singapore skyline. Our collector programming also offered immersive art and food dining experiences created especially for ART SG, such as Indochina by Senang Supper Club which featured two Cambodian artists discussing their art and non-profit initiative in Siem Reap over a curated menu from the Indochina region; a walking tour of cultural precinct Kampong Glam led by award winning cookbook author Khir Johari and Michelin-starred chef Ivan Brehm; and a four-hands Afro-Asian dinner which reflected the narrative and curation of the Translations exhibition. In addition to the official programming by the fair, there were also a number of gallery dinners, collector-hosted evenings, and karaoke nights and many other parties to round off the week.

LUX: What will you change about the fair for 2025?

MR: We will be doubling down on VIP outreach across our core constituency of Southeast Asia, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and also Vietnam, as well as markets with a resonance with Singapore, such as Australia, New Zealand, Chia and South Asia, and expanding the programming of the fair both within on-site and for collectors throughout the city. We will be working on more collaborations with privately owned museums and foundations, as alignment with collector-led initiatives that seek to make a difference is key to ART SG’s ambition to grow the regional ecosystem.

art exhibiton

The Art SG 2023 showcased an assembly of leading galleries from the region and around the world

LUX: What is the main collector base for Art SG?

MR: There is an established base of sophisticated collectors in Southeast Asia and a younger generation of new buyers who are hungry to engage with contemporary art.

Singapore is also increasingly home to the region’s wealth base as demonstrated by the growing number of family offices opening here, as well as its emerging position as Asia’s tech capital. This together with established international businesses and entrepreneurs recognising the benefits of Singapore as the base for their pan-Asian operations, provides the context for a rapidly developing, forward thinking and affluent collector base, who are increasingly engaging with Singapore’s rich cultural landscape.

Thousands of VIPs attended the preview day of ART SG’s highly anticipated second edition. Strong attendance from both local and international collectors and leading figures from institutions, museums, and foundations, hailing from Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, Japan, Korea, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan as well as Europe and the US. Notable visitors include:

Collectors

  • Alan Lau, Hong Kong
  • Albert Lim & Linda Neo, Singapore
  • Alexander Tedja, Indonesia
  • Alina Xie, China
  • Andrew Xue, Founder of Pond Society, China & Singapore
  • Belinda Tanoto, Founder of Tanoto Art Foundation, Indonesia
  • Dato Noor Azman Mohd Nurdin, Malaysia
  • Disaphol Chansiri, Thailand
  • Ellie Lai, Taiwan
  • Eric Booth & Jean-Michel Beurdeley, MAIIAM, Thailand
  • Evan Chow, Hong Kong
  • Han Nefkens, Han Nefkens Foundation, Spain
  • Harayanto Adikoesoemo, Founder of Museum MACAN, Indonesia Iwan Kurniawan Lukminto, Founder of Tumurun Museum, Indonesia Jack Feng, China/Singapore
  • Ji Dahai, Founder of Yalv River Art Museum, China
  • Jim Amberson, Singapore
  • Justine Tek, Director and CEO, Yuz Museum, China
  • Kim & Lito Camacho, Singapore
  • Kit Bencharongkul, MOCA Bangkok, Thailand
  • Kulapat Yantrasast, USA
  • Leo Shih, Taiwan
  • Li Fan, Founder of Whale Art Museum, China & Singapore
  • Mike & Lou Samson, Philippines/Singapore
  • Nathan Gunawan, Indonesia/Singapore
  • Nishita Shah, Thailand
  • Patrick Sun, Founder of Sunpride Foundation, Hong Kong
  • Pierre Lorinet, Singapore
  • Pontiac Land Group, Singapore
  • Rath Osathanugroh, Thailand
  • Rudy Tseng, Taiwan
  • Rvisra Chirathivat, Thailand
  • Simon Cheong, Singapore
  • Shunji Oketa, Founder of Oketa Collection, Japan
  • Thomas Shao, Founder of the MetaMedia Group and the Shao Foundation, China TY Jiang, Les Yeux Art Foundation, USA
  • Wu Meng, M Art Foundation, China
  • Xiaoyang Peng, Founder of DRC No.12 space & The Bunker, China
  • Yang Bin, China

Institutions

  • Aaron Cezar, Founding Director, Delfina Foundation, UK
  • Aaron Seeto, Director, Museum MACAN, Indonesia
  • Derek Sulger, Co-Chairperson, UCCA, China
  • Eugene Tan, Director of National Gallery Singapore and Director of Singapore Art Museum, Singapore
  • Jessica S Hong, Senior Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art, Toledo Museum, USA Judith Greer, Director of International Programmes for Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE
  • Lee Dong Kook, Director, GyeonGi Cultural Foundation and Gyeonggi Province Museum, Korea
  • Mami Kataoka, Director, Mori Art Museum, Japan
  • Pi Li, Head of Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong
  • Sook-Kyung Lee, Director, The Whitworth, Manchester & 14th Gwangju Biennale Stefano Rabolli Pansera, Director, Bangkok Kunsthalle, Thailand
  • Virginia Moon, Associate Curator, Korean Art, LACMA, USA
  • Xie Siwei, Museum Director, Yuz Museum, China
  • Xue Tan, Senior Curator, Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong
  • Zoe Whitley, Director, Chisenhale London, UK

LUX: Will art fairs remain strong commercially in the coming decades?

MR: Art fairs always have and will continue to play a crucial role in the art market.

The recent edition of ART SG saw 45,303 visitors across four show days, hailing from Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Australia, Japan, Korea, Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan as well as Europe and the US – in increase from the 43,000 visitors who attended the inaugural edition. The strong international attendance from leading private collectors, as well as directors, curators, and patrons from international museums and institutions at ART SG is a testament to the importance and appeal of the fair as the region’s leading fair.

people talking to each other

Meaningful dialogues and insightful conversations were held alongside the Fair at ART SG 2023

LUX: Will Art SG help awareness of SE Asian Art grow on the global scene, or is that not the point?

MR: Definitely. As Southeast Asia’s leading art fair, ART SG invites the world’s leading collectors and art leaders to experience Singapore and all that the region has to offer, but also encourage a new generation of emerging collectors to be inspired by the rich diversity of art the region.

ART SG 2024 saw a strong line-up of Southeast Asian galleries making a dynamic debut at the fair, as well as some of the most significant galleries from across the region, featuring both established and emerging Southeast Asian artists. Some of the highlights include FOST Gallery (Singapore) which presented a a significant showcase reflecting recent contemporary art practice in Singapore and Southeast Asia, including Donna Ong, Eng Tow, Ian Woo, Wyn- Lyn Tan, as well as Elaine Roberto-Navas and Luis Antonio Santos; Gajah Gallery (Singapore, Jakarta, Yogyakarta) which showed renowned artists from the region including Suzann Victor, Yunizar and Uji “Hahan” Handoko Eko Saputro; and BANGKOK CITYCITY (Bangkok), whose first-time participation featured a new installation by Tanatchai Bandasak, large-scale paintings by street artist Alex Face inspired by significant political movements in Thailand, and works by renowned Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai featuring his classic motifs of denim, fire and mythical imagery, among others.

artsg.com

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Reading time: 12 min
Woman sitting on the ground in front of colourful painting

Woman sitting on the ground in front of colourful painting

London-based Israeli artist Yulia Iosilzon creates a thespian world, somewhere between fairy tale and natural landscape across ceramics and painting. Her signature snails trail around the frames of vibrant, allegorical paintings of calligraphic movement. LUX explores her new solo show at Berntson Bhattarcharjee in London.

Two colourful paintings on a wall with a big snail in the middle.

Several layers of symbolism offer snails as an important motif for the artist from motherhood to tranquillity to restlessness

Snails perch on canvas corners, across five-tiered cakes, some small, some larger. One – nearly human size – sits elegantly in the middle of the gallery floor. Others melt into the paintings themselves, in communion with circus-like figures, swirling around one another in rich colours. These stand at the intersection of her work – between reality and fantasy, between almost unnerving, uncanny and playful.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Little snails climbing on the side of a colourful painting.

Applying paint onto sheer silk, the artist’s technique recalls Helen Frankenthaler’s style from the 1950s and 60s

Born in Moscow, and with frequent relocations, Yulia connects to the snail’s pursuit of comfort and security, in slow calm and restlessness, in spiralling refuge. And to see the gallery adorned with both thespian silk of bright pink and these snails of earthy colours across the gallery gives an intense feeling of familiar-unfamiliarity that good art does. So, too, does the paintings’ figures of meek, innocent faces – and the combination of their sharp triangular figures with the calligraphic swirls.

Yulia quite literally creates a theatrical stage within this exhibition. It’s a scene resembling the interior of a snail’s shell – like something of a film set, cocooned in the Berntson Bhattarcharjee’s basement (a gallery which transforms itself quite remarkably for each exhibition).

Woman that is painting, holding colourful painting up

Yulia Iosilzon cites children’s illustration and theatre as sources of inspiration

Snails were already seen a lot in images of Matisse, Dali and Dutch Renaissance painters. During this historical period, snails symbolised the Virgin Birth, and embodied notions of resurrection, purity and mortality.

Read more: Interview with British-Iranian Artist Kour Pour

Modus Operandi at the Berntson Bhattarcharjee Gallery, Mayfair, London, will run until 11 May 2024.

See More: bbgallery.art

 

 

 

 

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Curator Angeliki Kim Perfetti has created a supercar-themed exhibition to match the celebrated vehicles at Kiklo Spaces, outside London. She writes for LUX of her inspirations to bring high quality art to a revered location for motoring enthusiasts

text with light installation

The exhibition features artworks by Ed Ruscha, Polly Morgan, Johan Deckmann and Nancy Cadogan among others, interspersed with some classic supercars of the last four decades

Love is a language that we all speak, and here within the exhibition di nome e di fatto:
LOVE /𝐥ʌ𝐯/, brings together an infinite collection of references to art history, visual culture and contemporary storytelling that is reflecting on and relating to the many topics of love.

red graphic text painting

Love runs through the exhibition as a fil rouge and presents eleven artists who are united in their diversity and their works forms a presentation of text, abstraction, light, figure, colour, and form.

Ultimately, LOVE /𝐥ʌ𝐯/ is a dynamic feel-good exhibition featuring an eclectic group of artists. Who are working across a variety of media from sculpture, traditional work on canvas, photography, light installation to mirror, whilst exploring the many topics of love.

Juliette Loughran, founder of Loughran Gallery, said, “We wanted to start the year on a high, uniting audiences and artists with the most powerful human emotion of all.

Love drives everything we do and this exhibition will explore its significance in art history with Dynamisk founder Angeliki Kim Perfetti, in the first of what we hope will be many collaborations.”

car in art gallery

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

LOVE /lʌv/ runs 4 March – 31 May 2024 at Loughran Gallery

See More: loughrangallery.co.uk

Angeliki Kim Perfetti is the Founder of Dynamisk, Independent Curation and Art Advisory

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a room with big window and lights and bar

A nice interior with big lights and a bar. Big windows

Picture Ladbroke Hall – a cocktail of Beaux Arts elegance, Edwardian grandeur, modern creativity. This ex-car factory has transformed itself into a sprawling arts complex, from gallery to jazz bar to fine-dining. LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai meets its mastermind and co-founder, Loïc Gaillard

Darius Sanai: Ladbroke Hall is a major development. What made you want to do it?

Loïc Le Gaillard: Ladbroke Hall has been an incredible journey! The inspiration behind this project was simple – we aimed to establish a unique arts and social club, a central hub for creativity. From contemporary art to collectible design, encompassing culture, dining, and music, all within a single space. Beyond being a physical location, Ladbroke Hall is a meeting place for everyone – the public, friends, Patrons, and collaborators alike. It tangibly serves as a haven for those who appreciate the arts and seek meaningful connections, bringing together diverse minds and kindred spirits.

Ladbroke Hall also houses our flagship gallery, Carpenters Workshop Gallery in London. After 17 years of developing Carpenters Workshop Gallery, we made the decision to expand on the traditional gallery model to facilitate artistic exchange through a more immersive experience.

 

DS: It has elements of members’ club, but it’s not. Who is your market, and why are they coming?

LG: Ladbroke Hall is a distinctive haven for our community of art and design enthusiasts. In response to the growing need for spaces that foster community and connectivity, we introduced the Patron’s scheme. This scheme is designed to give our Patrons exclusive access to Ladbroke Hall’s vibrant community. This includes special privileges such as entry to private spaces like the Lamyland Patrons bar, ensuring that our Patrons are involved in every facet of Ladbroke Hall’s endeavours. Priority access to the live programme of Patron only events, the restaurant, and private dining experiences further enhances the Patron experience. Despite these exclusive perks, our commitment to inclusivity remains unwavering, ensuring that the enriching ambiance and offerings at Ladbroke Hall are accessible to all.

Functioning as a dynamic stage for the Arts, Ladbroke Hall creates unforgettable experiences. Our philosophy centres on providing Patrons with unparalleled access to the thriving artistic community, emphasising the shared experience within this vibrant creative hub.

 

DS: Tell us about how the commercial gallery, F&B and cultural programming work together.

LG: At its core, Ladbroke Hall is a stage for the Arts – a place to experience multidisciplinary arts all under the same roof. When visitors dine at our restaurant, Pollini, they are not only savouring the finest Italian cuisine by Chef Emanuele Pollini; they are doing so in a designed space crafted by one of our core artists and fellow Italian, Vincenzo De Cotiis Architects. The space features a specially commissioned, site-specific sculptural chandelier by Nacho Carbonell and four paintings by Sir Christopher Le Brun PPRA.

Visitors are also invited to enjoy our weekly Friday Jazz, accompanied with a specialised dinner menu. This event welcomes both jazz enthusiasts and new audiences, featuring some of today’s top musicians with a focus on high-quality straight-ahead jazz. The essence of this musical genre, breaking barriers and fusing cultures, resonates with Ladbroke Hall’s ethos as a multidisciplinary creative hub.

Recently, we’ve introduced the Classical Masters series, showcasing performances by some of the most distinguished classical musicians. Additionally, Carpenters Workshop Gallery currently hosts three solo exhibitions by Michele Lamy, Roger Herman, and Wendell Castle, all running until April 26th.

We also are excitingly opening Ladbroke Hall’s garden this spring designed by Luciano Giubbilei – so stay tuned! Ladbroke Hall has something for everyone, providing a space for people to gather and enjoy the Arts.

Big red brick building with trees and blue sky

Ladbroke Hall is an imposing building, just a few minutes from the heart of London’s shi shi Notting Hill.

DS: Why has it taken a French person to create such a visionary construct in London?

LG: London has long been a melting pot, drawing incredible talent from across the globe. It has been my home for half of my life, a place that continues to surprise and inspire me daily. London will always be international. As the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, once said, when the UK officially left the EU, “London is open and no matter where you’re from, you will always belong here.” Therefore, I do not see it as a French person in a British city constructing something so visionary. Several years on from Brexit, London continues to attract the world’s most exciting artistic talent and in turn collectors. It’s a hub for exchange and that is exactly how we see Ladbroke Hall.

 

DS: You opened less than six months ago; what would you want people to be saying about Ladbroke Hall in ten years?

LG: That’s a great question. I envision Ladbroke Hall in ten years to be the premier social and arts club where everyday visitors create wonderful memories and forged new friendships and collaborations. It is exciting to think what else Ladbroke Hall has in store, making it a journey we can only fully appreciate by waiting and enjoying the ride.

 

DS: What were your biggest challenges in its creation?

LG: Crafting Ladbroke Hall was in no means an easy feat. It is thanks to our team, collaborators and artists who helped create Ladbroke Hall. My business partner, Julien Lombrail and I pulled together a band of artists that were keen on joining the vision for this ecosystem.

two men in suits sitting on steps

Loïc Le Gaillard and Julien Lombrail are the co-founders of Ladbroke Hall, which blends a high end restaurant, a bar, a commercial arts-ace, a jazz club and a new garden space.

DS: What do you seek to achieve, and who do you seek to attract, through your programming.

LG: Curious, creative and kind people.

 

DS: You run the restaurant yourselves, yet you are not a restaurateur. Why? Is that challenging?

LG: The desire to open a restaurant has been a lifelong dream of mine. London’s competitive scene presents its challenges, but it’s an honour to collaborate with Chef Emanuele Pollini, who brings his brilliant culinary expertise to us.

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Under the artistic direction of Natasha Ginwala, the recent Colomboscope showed how the Sri Lankan art festival has swiftly become a must-visit not just for aficionados of South Asian art, but for collectors globally seeking to channel exciting new art world perspectives from a region whose global significance is rising.

woman sitting on window ledge

Natasha Ginwala, artistic director. Photo by Victoria Tomaschko

Across venues throughout Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, curators Hit Man Gurung, Sheelasha Rajbhandari, and Sarker Protick choreographed events and showcased the work of 40 eminent artists from Sri Lanka and the Global South, all themed around ‘Way of the Forest’.

Artwork of an eye with leaves

Zihan Karim, EYE (।), 2015, Video projection on installation. Photo by Fiona Cheng

Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation (DBF), as one of the festival’s lead patrons and cultural partners, supported four artists from Bangladesh to participate: Soma Surovi Jannat; Md Rakibul Anwar; Zihan Karim; Jayatu Chakma. There was a strong theme of sustainability and regeneration in their works.

woman with trees in background

Soma Surovi Jannat, artist.

Man posing with painting in background

Rakibul Anwar, artist.

black and white picutre of man head down

Zihan Karim, artist.

man standing next to painting

Jayatu Chakma, artist.

‘Urbanisation is accelerating deforestation, which removes the potential for forests to absorb carbon and put a brake on global warming. This creates political, economic and societal crises for people and harms our planet,’ says DBF’s founder, Durjoy Rahman.

poster of event with text on it

The Way of the Forest Poster

It was an intriguing way to see how art is leading the challenge against post-colonial legacies and bearing witness to the effects of climate change.

 

See more: https://www.colomboscope.lk/

 

Online Editor: Isabel Phillips

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The window of a gallery with hanging coloured giant skulls in the room surrounded by pictures
The window of a gallery with hanging coloured giant skulls in the room surrounded by pictures

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

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

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

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

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

Lucca Hue-Williams, Founder and Director of Albion Jeune

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Esben Weile Kjær, Under the Rainbow, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

Artist Esben Weile Kjær

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

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

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two men standing next to a woman wearing a red dress
two men standing next to a woman wearing a red dress

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

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

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

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

A painting of lots of people huddled together

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

gold pillar with faces on it

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

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

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

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

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

Untitled, 1994 by Hassan Jouni, ISelf Collection

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

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

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

A painting of a blurred figure

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

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

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

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

A painting of a tree

Cedar, 2009 by Nabil Nahas, ISelf Collection

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

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

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

Find out more:

durjoybangladesh.org

www.tate.org.uk/acquisitions

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Vik Muniz, Woman of Algiers, after Pablo Picasso (Surfaces), 2022

Brazilian artist and photographer Vik Muniz’s most recent series Surfaces is currently on display in the FOTOCUBISMO exhibition at Ben Brown Fine Arts in Mayfair, London until 26th May.

Born in Sao Paulo Vik Muniz’s abstract studies of shape and form recall the Cubism of Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger, but he also integrates his own personal style and techniques. Speaking to LUX, he described Cubism as: “…a response by artists to the hegemonic influence of photography on the way we see the world. They saw something in the world that was more complex, more human, and more multifaceted, and to go back after such a long time and use the same medium, the medium of photography, to reinsert this power of questioning to Cubistic images seemed like a challenge but also it just became an extension of what I was doing earlier.”

Vik Muniz, Still Life 2, after Giorgio Morandi (Surfaces), 2022

In this series, Muniz uses a hybrid approach, photographing his own paintings and collages which are often inspired by iconic images from art history, from Otto Freundlich’s works to those of Burle Marx. The resulting photograph is then edited and reassembled to create the final piece, one of many layers and textures, which mixes the mediums of photography and painting and calls the viewer to question the nature of their own perception. In this way, Muniz presents a study on ways of looking and seeing, while also exploring the reality that lies beneath the surface.

Vik Muniz, Dora Maar with Cat (Surfaces), 2022

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

On his Surfaces series, Muniz told LUX: “The idea is that the pictures are filled with layers of meaning that shift the pictorial plane and the objective is to cause a lot of ambiguity. So whatever you see as a piece of paper may just be a picture of a piece of paper. I hope to create a lot of confusion in the gaze of the viewers, and that it becomes not only entertaining but also revealing of what they are hoping to see in a picture.”

Vik Muniz, Guernica, after Pablo Picasso 2 (Surfaces), 2022

Muniz has gained international recognition for his distinctive approach of creating compositions using unconventional materials such as chocolate, sugar, garbage, diamonds, caviar, toys, junk, scrap metal, dry pigment, vintage postcards and even dust. His work often blurs the line between reality and representation, compelling viewers to question what they see. With numerous accolades and exhibitions in prestigious galleries and museums worldwide, Muniz continues to push boundaries, challenging conventional notions of materiality and visual representation. His work is included in major collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and Tate, London.

Vik Muniz, Nude Descending Staircase, after Marcel Duchamp 2 (Surfaces), 2021

Read more: 6 Questions: Valentina Volchkova, Head of Pace Gallery, Geneva 

Vik Muniz: FOTOCUBISMO is the fourth solo exhibition presented at the Ben Brown Fine Arts gallery. The gallery opened in 2004 in the heart of Mayfair and positioned itself on the contemporary art scene, as well as becoming known for its exhibitions of 20th century artists. In 2009, they opened up a second gallery space in Hong Kong, with another in Palm Beach launching in 2021.

Vik Muniz: FOTOCUBISMO is on display until 26th May, 2023

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A record-breaking sale at a German auction house is reverberating around the European art market, says Sophie Neuendorf
A blonde woman wearing a black top

Sophie Neuendorf

The 1943 striking self-portrait was hammered down for €20 million ($22 million) or €23.2 million ($24.4 million) with fees —the highest amount ever paid for a work of art at auction in Germany. Including fees, the masterpiece surpassed the previous record for a Beckmann self-portrait, which was set with the sale of Selbstbildnis mit Horn, (1938), sold for $22.5 million with fees at Sotheby’s New York in 2001 (Source: Artnet Price Database). Additionally, the Grisebach sale marks the second highest price achieved for a Beckmann painting: Bird’s Hell (1937–38) sold for £36 million ($44 million), including fees, at Christie’s London in 2017.

According to several witnesses, a Swiss collector, who had bid over the phone via one of Grisebach’s partners, was the lucky buyer of the masterpiece. Self-portraits are the most famous of Beckmann’s oeuvre, and this particular work, a striking painting depicting the artist in a fur-lined robe, was painted while the German artist was living in exile in Amsterdam during World War II. Several collectors in the room bid on an array of blue chip works during what can be described as an electrifying evening. Many collectors had also come to see the evening’s star lot and to hopefully witness a record as the Beckmann piece was offered with no guarantee. Self-portrait Yellow-Pink had been on view in New York in November before arriving back at Grisebach’s historic Berlin villa for the December sale. Most likely, it had caught the eye of several American collectors as auction house specialists notably switched over to English during the sale of this particular lot. According to Grisebach’s Diandra Donnecker, the uniqueness of the work stems from the fact that it is one of five self-portraits to remain in private hands; they rarely come up for sale, and works he painted in exile are even rarer.

A painting of people eating and holding swords

Traum von Monte Carlo (1939 – 1943) Max Beckmann

The Grisebach sale marks a pivotal moment for the German art market, which has steadily gained momentum over the past few years. Sotheby’s returned to the country in 2021 after a hiatus and sales in recent years have been more robust than usual, with more works going for over €1 million. Given the ramifications of Brexit, which is making import and export transactions much more cumbersome, Sotheby’s decision is hardly a surprise. Christie’s has been steadily strengthening its presence in 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 – and consequently, international collectors.

The Grisebach sale on December 1 is more than double the last record achieved in Germany, which was previously held by the auction house Nagel in Stuttgart. Nagel had sold a Chinese bronze sculpture, dating to 1473, for €9.5 million. The record for a painting sold in Germany is held by Grisebach for its sale of another Beckmann work, The Egyptian (1942), for €5.5 million in 2018.

A self portrait of a man in yellow fur lined coat with his arms crossed

Selbstbildnis gelb-rosa (1943) Max Beckmann

For context, let’s take a look at the market. The top 5 German auction houses, in terms of value sold, are Ketterer, Grisebach, Hampel Fine Art Auctions, Lempertz, and Van Ham (in that order). Ketterer’s total sales value in 2022 thus far is over €100 million. After their December 1 sale, Grisebach’s total sales value for 2022 is also close to 40 million USD. But how does the German market compare to its European counterparts in 2022 thus far? Total sales value this year in Germany was $193 Million. The Austrian market recorded total sales of $94 Million, the Swiss market hammered down $182 Million, and the French market recorded $967 Million in sales value.

A graph with lines

One of the strongest European markets, Germany will likely need to record a few more years of growth until it can compete with France and the UK (which hammered down over $1 Billion in total sales thus far). (Source: Artnet Price Database).

Interestingly, German artists have proven robust through global economic downturns and often surpass their US or UK counterparts in terms of value sold. The top 5 most sought after artists, in terms of value sold, are Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke, Franz Marc, and Max Ernst. For context, the total value of Richter works auctioned in 2022 is $223 Million in 2022 thus far – which is greater than total auction sales in Germany this year.

A grey painting of people suffering

The Night (1918-1919) Max Beckmann

With a historically strong culture of collecting and a deeply ingrained love and value for the arts, it won’t take long for the German market to become a hub for international collectors. An abundance of private collections in Germany will surely provide ample opportunities for acquiring unique and unseen masterpieces. Many of the most important art collections worldwide are located in the country, and quite a few of these marvelous collections will be transferred to the next generation before too long.

A graph with lines

According to Artnet data, German collectors have historically favored 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, introduced by Germany’s culture minister a few years ago (ostensibly to protect Germany’s cultural heritage). 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? According to Artnet data and recent sales, the country’s market is drawing an international audience and is on track to compete with France and the UK. Some notable collections to keep an eye on are those of Ingvild Goetz, Karen Boros, Ariane Piech, Nicolas Berggruen, and Desire Feuerle, to name just a few.

Sophie Neuendorf is Vice-President at Artnet.

Find out more: artnet.com

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An upside down pyramid installation with pink lights on it

Axion, 2022 by Christopher Bauder. The Royal Commission for Riyadh City is transforming the capital into a local and international art hub

Nouf Almoneef of Noor Riyadh speaks to LUX about creating the biggest festival of light and art in the world, in the Saudi capital
A woman wearing a blue headscarf and grey blazer with a black watch

Nouf Almoneef

LUX: Noor Riyadh has engaged some of the world’s most significant artists and curators. What would you like its global reputation to be in 5 or 10 years?
Nouf Almoneef: Today Noor Riyadh is the largest festival of light and art in the world. It is presented by Riyadh Art and plays a central part in the plans to creatively transform Saudi Arabia’s capital into a vibrant, cosmopolitan global city through arts and culture. Noor Riyadh was the first of the Riyadh Art programs to launch, inaugurating what is becoming the project’s legacy of transforming Riyadh into a gallery without walls. Riyadh Art comprises of 10 programs, delivering more than 1,000 public art installations across the city created by local and international artists, and supported by two annual festivals, including Noor Riyadh. Within this overarching program we work to enrich lives through creative joyful experiences, in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals.

light up artwork projected on an ancient wall

Masmak Garden by Yann Nguema

The main focus of Riyadh Art, and therefore that of Noor Riyadh, is the people. Over 300,000 visitors enjoyed the first edition of Noor Riyadh, even despite the strict Covid restrictions that prevailed last year. In its second edition, we estimate that over 2.5 million local and international visitors were able to joyfully experience Noor Riyadh’s artworks, installations, exhibitions, talks and family-oriented workshops. Noor Riyadh grew three times in size between its first and second editions, but the number of visitors grew significantly above that and we couldn’t be happier!

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Our wish is that more and more Saudi Arabians and international visitors come to the Noor Riyadh festivals in the future, so may can experience the joy that light brings to the city and its residents.

red squiggly lights in the air at night

Amplexus by Grimanesa Amorós

LUX: You blend local artists with international names. How much interaction is there between the two, and will there be more in future?
NA: This edition’s participating artists come from 40 countries as far and wide as Madagascar, Uganda, Japan, Puerto Rico, Turkey, Poland, France, United Kingdom, United States and Saudi Arabia. They have been selected by the curators in collaboration with the Festival’s artistic direction team. Noor Riyadh’s curators were selected through a competitive process that ensured a balance between international and local representation both for the curatorial teams and participating artists. The festival is co-curated by Hervé Mikaeloff, Dorothy Di Stefano and Jumana Ghouth. The festival’s accompanying world-class exhibition entitled ‘From Spark to Spirit’ is curated by lead curator Neville Wakefield and associate curator Gaida AlMogren.

The teams’ goal was to unite renowned names in light art with an expanding roster of emerging and established local artists. World renowned artists such as teamLab, Daniel Buren, Douglas Gordon and Alicja Kwade were joined by emerging Saudi talent including Basmah Felemban, Obaid Alsafi and Sara Abdu, to name a few. Noor Riyadh’s 2022 theme is ‘We Dream of New Horizons’, responding to a motif that is both literal and metaphorical in meaning. It alludes to the distant glow of sunrise or sunset and the shining light of our dreams, with a sense of hopefulness for the future. Through a sense of wonder, the artists explored the use of illumination, luminosity and their own encounters with materials as staging relations to otherness and hope in the form of light.

lit up poles on a river by sand dunes

One Thousand Galaxies Of Light by Gisela Colon

As the exhibition ‘From Spark to Spirit’ continues through February 4, 2023 at JAX 03 of JAX District, it traces the role light plays in shaping our relationship to a world for which light itself has become the signal of change. Just as the Light and Space Movement in the 1960s California, USA reflected changes in the established order, this exhibition explores a landscape of light inflected by the rapid cultural transformations shaping the Middle East. The show is again structured as a cultural dialogue and example artists include Doug Aitken, Refik Anadol, Larry Bell, Jim Campbell, John Edmark, Walaa Fadul, Lina Gazzaz, Phillip K. Smith III and Haroon Mirza.

As Noor Riyadh grows, we look forward to keeping the curatorial and artistic dialogue going for the forthcoming editions of the festival.

LUX: How and where is the ground up art scene in Riyadh developing?
NA: Noor Riyadh features an impressive selection of both world-renowned international artists being exhibited alongside established and emerging Saudi talent. One of the key art locations in Riyadh is JAX District, the new destination for arts & culture in the Kingdom, where artists work, and where ‘From Spark to Spirit’ exhibition takes place.

We pride ourselves on working with such exceptional Saudi artists as world renowned Muhannad Shono, leading woman artist Ahaad Alamoudi, who grew between the Saudi Arabia and England and Dr. Zahrah Al Ghamdi, Saudi representing artist at the 2019 Venice Biennale. They are joined by performance artist Sarah Brahim and artist and designer Huda Al-Aithan, amongst others.

A silver light pyramid with lights shining through white squares in the dark

I See You Brightest in the Dark, 2022 by Muhannad Shono

Shono is one of many Saudi artists who have made a return to the Kingdom and this commitment to pushing the Saudi art scene forward is reflected in his international presence. The representative for Saudi Arabia at the 2022 Venice Biennale, for Noor Riyadh 2022 Shono captured the ideas of transformation through journeys, presenting I See You Brightest In The Dark, a large-scale immersive multi-room intervention traversing the floors of an a 1980’s building in the heart of Riyadh Malaz district. Alamoudi and Brahim’s performance-based installations are displayed across the city, responding to Noor Riyadh’s 2022 theme ‘We Dream of New Horizons’. Al-Aithan and Al Ghamdi’s artworks are on show at the ‘From Spark to Spirit’ exhibition.

We direct our efforts towards turning Riyadh into Saudi Arabia´s most vibrant cultural hub, as per Riyadh Art’s directives. Day after day, we put our energy and work towards transforming Riyadh into a gallery without walls.

A cube with holograms of people in it

Vibrance by Bruno Ribeiro

LUX: What are you, personally, finding most interesting about this iteration of the festival?
NA: Noor Riyadh firmly believes art is for everyone so, apart from the magnificent artworks on show across the capital, the festival implemented a very strong community engagement program before, during and after its duration. We want to reach people not only through art itself, but also through all the joy it can bring by learning and by getting actively involved in it.

For example, the Noor Riyadh’s Education Program took over 500 schools and nine universities across the city, reaching over 50,000 students. A team of Noor Festival ambassadors visited each one of those 500 educational establishment to give a presentation on Saudi art and culture, foster awareness and knowledge about art as well as generate excitement and encourage the community to visit Noor Riyadh. We are also very proud of Noor Riyadh’s Apprentice Program, as it benefits 15 young Saudis wanting to pursue a career in public art and the creative industries in the country.

The fifteen apprentices selected to participate in the program benefited from the transfer of knowledge and skills in arts and lighting installation, artist studio management, marketing and career development planning. Additionally, the program provided apprentices with the opportunity to shadow artists preparing for this year’s festival. College graduates have also decided to become part of Noor Riyadh’s volunteer program and provide visitors with information on the various artworks and foment a better understanding of their meaning and purpose.

Read more: Visiting Noor Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s Festival of Art and Light

This year Noor Riyadh held a charity auction bringing together four major Saudi artists – Ahmed Mater, Moath Alofi, Rashed AlShashai, and Saad AlHowede – in collaboration with the charities Aleradah Org, Saudi Alzheimer’s Disease Association, Al Nahda, and International Rehabilitation Team. The artists worked together to produce 8 pieces that were displayed and put up for auction to benefit the charities’ art programs. The artworks went on sale through the Saudi-based art market platform Atrum from November 14 – 15. Having said that, it is our sincerest wish that this edition of Noor Riyadh truly encourages all its visitors to dream of new horizons.

A huge disco-ball with yellow lights on it outdoors

Moon Light Pavilion by Pauline David

LUX: How would you like it to develop? Is your aim ultimately to generate awareness among art collectors, art academia, or more general tourists?
NA: Riyadh Art, and therefore Noor Riyadh, is all about the positive impact art has on people and places. In other words, Noor Riyadh exists to enrich lives through creative joyful experiences. As the festival is citywide spread, going forward, more and more people living in and visiting Riyadh will be enjoying magnificent works of art without traveling outside the city, or making long commutes, or arriving from international locations as all kinds of installations will light the city’s major hubs, both in traditional neighbourhoods and in new, booming areas. We will keep bringing together local communities, from families to artists, students, professionals and more, with international audiences from across the globe.

LUX: What else needs to happen for Riyadh to become a significant fixture on the global art scene?
NA: We have all elements of success in our hands: a balanced team of international and local curators, an ever-growing plethora of world-class artists and, what is more important, a diverse, engaged and excited audience, both locally and internationally. Noor Riyadh has firmly established itself on the global art scene, and our position will be only expanding in the future, gaining more art world ambassadors and admirers. The people of Riyadh and Saudi Arabia are central to meeting these goals, so we will work endlessly to continue engaging them into the many benefits that art brings to their lives and to the city in which they live.

flower artwork on screens in a city

Botanic by Jennifer Steinkamp

LUX: Are there misconceptions about art in Riyadh Saudi Arabia in general internationally? Does the art world observe art with a western eye, and if so is that an issue?
NA: With Riyadh Art programs expansion, as well as other prominent art initiatives in the Gulf region, with the amount of attention to Middle Eastern artists and initiatives I saw at Frieze London this year, I feel that the art world optic became much wider in the last years. The presence and critical acclaim Saudi artists receive internationally, namely at various editions of the Venice Biennale and their increasing presence in the various Riyadh Art initiatives, speaks for itself. It is rewarding to celebrate our artists’ success on the global art scene as well as see international talent create and thrive in Riyadh.

Nouf Almoneef is Project Manager of Noor Riyadh and Architectural Advisor at Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC)

Find out more: riyadhart.sa/noor-riyadh

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Reading time: 9 min
Artwork
Woman

International gallerist Pearl Lam

Art-world doyenne and owner of Pearl Lam Galleries on the foodie culture of her hometown of Hong Kong, why NFTs are hot and how there’s always more room for Asian artists on the global stage

My favourite museum in the region

There are so many incredible museums: Mori Art Museum in Tokyo, National Museum of Korea in Seoul, as well as Rockbund Art Museum, Power Station of Art and Chi K11 Art Museum in Shanghai

Where I go after a busy day at work

Back home to meditate

The last piece of art I bought

I bought two pieces, both from Mexico – one work is by Eugenia Martínez and the other is by Taka Fernández

Lam says that Hong Kong is fast becoming a global art hub

My favourite dining experience in Hong Kong

I usually have Cantonese cuisine, cooked in a private kitchen in the Wan Chai neighbourhood. It’s known for its upscale twist to Hong Kong classics. My favourite dishes are minced-fish soup and barbecued pork

What I think about NFTs

NFTs are hot! NFTs give artists and musicians the freedom to sell to end collectors or consumers directly – and it is already expanding from cryptocurrency to traditional currency investors. People in California and China seem to be particularly interested in building NFT platforms at the moment. It’s a new digital world that has pushed the art world to adapt

The artists I currently have my eye on

Woman

Annie Morris, courtesy of the artist and Tim Taylor Gallery

I love Annie Morris, Idris Khan, Philip Colbert and Gordon Cheung, who are all, coincidentally, UK-based artists. From sculptures to multimedia works and epic landscapes, their art is diverse and I love it

How the Hong Kong art scene has changed over the past 10 years

The art world was previously dominated by Europe and North America, but that has changed with the increase of international art fairs. In Hong Kong, we now have many world-class museums and galleries, which is exciting to see. Hong Kong is becoming a global art hub, especially since the opening of M+ was a success. It’s rare to have an Asian institution with sculpture, installation, photography and paintings that challenge the convention of traditional art

 

Art

‘Mr Doodle in Love’ exhibition at Shanghai K11

My most memorable experience of the city

Hong Kong is my home, so I have many memories. But one that will always stand out is opening my gallery in the historic Pedder Building, which was built in the Beaux-Arts style in 1923

What frustrates me

I wouldn’t say it’s frustrating exactly, but I think there is always more room for Hong Kong artists on the international stage. For me, personally, it’s always been very important to support local artists by showing their work to new audiences

What I miss about Hong Kong when I’m travelling

I miss my friends and my foodie companions. Food is an important part of Hong Kong culture. When a dining experience combines art, through a discussion with artists or friends, it’s even more fun

Find out more: pearllam.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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man in an orange suit and green patterned scarf and hat standing in front of a patterned wall
A man in a yellow suit standing by a green wall wearing a long colourful scarf

‘My path is full of petals- I have not swept it for others.’ Image courtesy of Sol Golden Sato

Born in Malawi, Sol Golden Sato is a London-based artist who incorporates philosophy into his paintings and sculptures. Here, he speaks to LUX Chief Contributing Editor, Maryam Eisler, about the connections between identity, place, community and art

Maryam Eisler: How would you define your identity Sol?
Sol Golden Sato: I came to London from Malawi on my twentieth birthday. I had a strong Malawi and African identity but I wasn’t really political, even though I had left because the politics had changed so much. I came to London and instantly found myself working as a commercial migrant. That was my first identity crisis. Living in Brixton in rented accommodation… I think I was paying around £25 a week rent, with no heating. I was really enjoying it at such a young age. I stayed there for four or five years and I found myself doing other jobs. I had never really thought of my identity in that sense at that point. I think it was only when I personally started changing, in particular when I started identifying more as a Londoner, that I began thinking ‘how do I or should I actually present myself’ ?

Maryam Eisler: The concept of being a ‘Londoner’ is interesting. Talk to me about that.
Sol Golden Sato: It all lies in the nuances. I want to be known as an international artist or a London artist or better yet, a London-based artist, who tells stories of my life here in London whilst equally referencing my experiences growing up in Malawi. It is no longer a conundrum; rather, it is normal for somebody like me in London, to have moved around a great deal and become malleable with the definition of one’s own culture or cultural identity.

A painting of an African man laughing

‘One message from home is wroth a ton of gold.’ Image courtesy of Sol Golden Sato

Maryam Eisler: Do you think you have had to sacrifice certain parameters in order to fit in? Or has it been a a seamless integration?
Sol Golden Sato: It is never seamless. I spoke to someone who was a diplomat at the time, and he said ‘you have to soften your edges so that you can walk into a room, not be what they want you to be, and yet be able to connect with a variety of people from the perspective of their point of view rather than your own.’ When you are in a diaspora, you soon learn how to be diplomatic.I see so many displaced people here and they all have something important to contribute to the conversation in this forever changing world. You may lose on some points but you definitely gain on others. And sometimes, you may just forget the environment you grew up in altogether. In my case, I have not spoken with anyone from Malawi for all this time, so I have forgotten most of the language, which is quite a painful and sad process. At the same time, I have spoken to psychiatrists and speech therapists and they all say ‘You will remember it as soon as you go back’. How is it possible that your brain can and will switch off bits of you altogether over time?

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Maryam Eisler: I would even push you further by saying that you are not a London artist, but rather a Chelsea artist, given that the Kings Road in particular seems to be home to your studio but also to your public art.
Sol Golden Sato: Yes, it is one of those things, when for years, I didn’t quite realize how much I was presenting within and giving back to the Chelsea community just by being in it. I think the history of the Kings Road and the manner in which I like to dress somehow connect with each other. I think place has both a psychological and a spiritual identity and it is something that I try and seek in other places too. When you invest yourself in a community and find out what that community’s identity is all about and how that relates to you, you can then, and only then, make it. The Kings Road is where I have learnt those principles actually. I have also done projects near the Portobello road, and I instantly found a way of connecting with people through the Grenfel community but also through the Notting Hill Carnival… with a particular interest in trying to understand how different cultures live together amongst themselves, but also side by side with other communities.

A man wearing an orange shirt and yellow shirt staring at a vase

‘You have been in my dreams, old friend- I miss you.’ Image courtesy of Sol Golden Sato

Maryam Eisler: You have an amazing way of tattooing yourself on the walls of these spaces and places because, even though you have a studio you are also very present and visible on the street. You have somehow managed to integrate the outdoor skin of these communities.
Sol Golden Sato: Yes, it is something that did not start with an ideology, just “Oh, there’s a piece of wall, we could do something there”. But now I am starting to see it as a mission: that the artist should always be present, not just where they live but where they are. I have been following a number of people who want to activate communities, especially via the act of making art. I did this in Portobello and I am trying to do these activities in other centres and gardens now too. Sometimes the local people can’t do it on their own, and it takes a cultural activator to come in and say, “I see this, we can do this” and then it is a way of tattooing culture into a place, like a renewal of some sort.

Maryam Eisler: We should open minds at a young age as opposed to allowing brains to be imposed upon by tradition and old world thinking, would you not agree?
Sol Golden Sato: Yes. When we were doing this project in Notting Hill, I had forgotten my brushes so I thought I would just pour paint on canvas and move it around with my feet. The kids said, “You’re dancing ! We want to dance on the canvas too !” Now I am talking to some people in Nine Elms, where the Battersea Power Station is, asking ‘ Why don’t we do a large, forty-metre-long dancing painting where you get all the kids involved together, side by side’. It is another way of activating a community that is continuously and radically changing at a fast pace.

a painting of two children sitting on a ledge with a yellow background

‘Wind, light and time ever revolve; Let us then enjoy life as best we can.’ Image courtesy of Sol Golden Sato

Maryam Eisler: What are the types of topics that interest you when making your art? What are your paintings inspired by?
Sol Golden Sato: My art still goes back to stories coming from people, almost all relate to time and place, and more often than not, to very specific times in history.

Maryam Eisler: Can you talk to me about your interest in the iconic gangsters, the Kray brothers and their trip to Nigeria as depicted in your current work- in-progress painting ? In a way, it is a perfect example of you linking two continents, but more importantly linking a very London story to stories elsewhere.
Sol Golden Sato: Yes, Northern Nigeria 1964; I found a little document in the form of a photograph and I just asked the question: what were the Krays doing there and most importantly, how did that trip affect them or better yet, did it affect them at all? From there, I linked other more universal questions about how different cultures communicate or connect with each other. If I were to say, “let’s look at black African migration in the East End of London,” it would be an equally interesting subject, but if we look at it from the cultural phenomenon of the Kray brothers, that is so much more interesting and potent to me.

A man in a pink shirt and checked beige suit standing infant of a painting

‘It’s all one single grief.’ Image courtesy of Sol Golden Sato

Maryam Eisler: You are always attracted to and explore the same kind of topics but you treat them from different perspectives?
Sol Golden Sato: Yes. Certain subjects I strongly feel should be portrayed through paint and others might be more cinematic in nature, like the story of the Kray brothers. I am also starting to learn that some thoughts can be better communicated through public art installations and others are better suited to a gallery presentation. That’s how you engage different and wider audiences.

man in an orange suit and green patterned scarf and hat standing in front of a patterned wall

‘Could I get mansions covering ten thousand miles, I’d house all the poor.’ Image courtesy of Sol Golden Sato

Maryam Eisler: Today, you have enveloped your own body in these beautiful, lush and colourful fabrics; I am assuming they are of African origin? You are using your own body as artwork and communicator of ideas.
Sol Golden Sato: Yes. It is interesting to see how different people do it. In my case, I have always liked and been inspired by Salvador Dali, mythologising himself and creating something beyond his own immediate persona. The fabrics I am using today are originally Dutch fabrics that were developed and designed for local flavour. As such, It is also interesting to study how trade and culture work together. One of my heroes or idols is Quentin Crisp. He used to get frequently beaten up  for being effeminate, so he decided, to wear make-up so it was easier for people to know who he was.I like that because it is actually quite inclusive, being different and making people come up to you and ask questions.

Read more: Michael Xufu Huang on Arts Philanthropy & Making Art More Accessible

Maryam Eisler: I suppose it is a visual cue that attracts people, the same way you caught my attention whilst crossing the Kings Road?

Sol Golden Sato: Yes, it attracts. Sometimes my rule is to just be the opening and see what happens from there. Sometimes it’s brilliant. I have had some funny moments: a football fan started a chant saying “who brought the pimp.” You can interrupt normality.

Find out more: solgolden.com

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Reading time: 8 min
winery at sunset
winery at sunset

The vineyards of Château Mouton Rothschild. Photo © Studio Goodday. Courtesy Château Mouton Rothschild

This morning, Château Mouton Rothschild revealed its latest artistic collaboration with Xu Bing. We take a closer look at the Chinese artist’s label design for the 2018 vintage

Since 1945, Château Mouton Rothschild has invited an artist to design a label for its latest vintage. The collection of miniature artworks, which are transferred onto the wine bottles and also exhibited in a special gallery in the château, features some of the most famous artists from the past 100 years including the likes of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter and now, Xu Bing.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

One of China’s most renowned artists, Xu Bing is best known for his installations which often explore the relationship between image and language. His artwork for the 2018 vintage label is a continuation of his ‘square word calligraphy’ series which originally involved the artist organising English letters into structures that resembled Chinese characters. The idea was to break down cultural barriers by demonstrating the similarity of components in both languages and therefore, demystify the Chinese written language for non-Chinese speakers.

label artwork

Xu Bing’s label continues his ‘square word calligraphy’ series

For this artwork, the pair of elegant, stacked symbols once again appear to be an example of traditional Chinese calligraphy, but the characters are, in fact, composed of the Latin alphabet and denote “Mouton Rothschild”. 

Read more: Fashion entrepreneur Wendy Yu on creativity and charity

wine label

Château Mouton Rothschild’s 2018 vintage with label design by Xu Bing. Photo © Studio Goodday. Courtesy Château Mouton Rothschild.

The design’s inspiration comes from the layered experience of tasting wine, each character reveals itself as the reader engages more deeply with the image, but also with the idea of history, symbolism and reinvention. By reimagining the literary shape of the iconic winery, Bing symbolically suggests the possibility of new discovery in the old.

Discover Château Mouton Rothschild: chateau-mouton-rothschild.com

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black and white butterflies
black and white butterflies

‘Butterflies’ by James Wilde, MA Photography

As the RCA’s virtual graduate show comes to a close, LUX explores its diverse offering of curated collections and events

Over the last few months, art schools across the UK have been heavily criticised by students for digitising their degree shows. Whilst it’s true that something is inevitably lost in the process of viewing art virtually, digital shows can also provide a unique creative opportunity for young artists to present their work in a different format to different audiences.

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In the case of the Royal College of Art, the school has launched an entirely new ‘digital discovery’ platform, bringing together around 850 emerging artists, designers and creatives from the departments of Architecture, Arts & Humanities, Communication and Design. The platform profiles the students and groups work together in thoughtfully curated collections alongside a programme of events which run throughout the day in the form of Q&A discussions, presentations and screenings.

cake painting

‘Bittersweet’ by Olivia Sterling, MA painting

“This is a show that is unlike any other. It marks the culmination and conclusion of work that was made in extraordinary times. It was work made in flats and apartments and homes around the world. Work made on the dining room table. It somehow marks – I think – a victory for creativity, for ideas. And for excellence, regardless of the circumstance…,” said Sir Jony Ive, RCA Chancellor, whose curated collection entitled ‘Optimistic, Singular and New’, features a small series of bold artworks that employ a variety of different artistic mediums.

landscape photography

‘Untitled’ by Lowena Poole, MA Photography

Read more: Three top gallerists on how the art world is changing

Artist Es Devlin has curated another intriguing collection of work entitled ‘Towards a Digital Placeness.’ “I came to this impressive final year online show at the RCA with a mission: to find the artists, thinkers and makers who might become the builders and cultivators of digital ‘placeness’,” she says. “I was looking for those who might help those in my generation emerge from the shady limbo-land of half-in-half-out, half in the car, half answering emails, half talking to a friend, half flicking through Instagram. I was looking for those who might help us cultivate a more honest, more full-bodied commitment to our digital presence.” The works that she has chosen engage with topics of the future such as AI and eco-anxiety, expressing a tension between familiarity and otherness through the creation of new and striking visual languages.

explosion of pink

‘In the Pink’ by Rosa Whiteley

The spontaneity and slowness of a physical gallery experience might be missing, but the virtual sphere offers diverse audiences a rare opportunity to access and engage with the next generation of artists. All you need to do is open your laptop and click the link: 2020.rca.ac.uk

The RCA 2020 graduate show runs until 31 July 2020. For more information on the school, visit: rca.ac.uk

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Sculpture of hands in a bridge
Sculpture of hands in a bridge

Building Bridges (at the Venice Biennale 2019) by Lorenzo Quinn

Italian artist Lorenzo Quinn has been commissioned to create artworks for the likes of the Vatican, the State of Qatar, and the Venice Biennale. Here, the sculptor speaks to Charlie Newman about poetry, the symbolism of hands, and durability.

Monochrome portrait of man holding his head

Lorenzo Quinn

1. Can you talk us through your creative process from the conception of an idea to the finished piece?

Once I feel the inspiration, I begin by drawing a sketch of the idea. This sketch might change many times until I feel it is right. Then I make a model in my studio, this model could also vary from the sketch as I go. Finally, when I am satisfied with the model, we proceed to cast the piece in metal.

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2. How does your approach differ when you’re working on public art compared to smaller sculptures?

The approach is the same, apart from when we are considering a sculpture with large dimensions, we also have to consider the public safety implications, engineering and durability. We might choose different materials or different ways of constructing and engineering the sculpture.

3. What compels you to sculpt the human body, and specifically, hands?

I choose hands because I want to have a dialogue with the public, to have a conversation, and we have to do [this] through a common language. If I did abstract art, it would be a monologue, not a dialogue. The hands allow me to get closer to the public through a language that everybody understands and relates to.

Sculpture of hands against a building

Support by Lorenzo Quinn

4. Do you have a preferred medium to work with?

Metals, especially bronze because of its durability.

Read more: Knight Frank’s 2020 Wealth Report focuses on insights for UHNWIs

5. You often pair poetry with your sculptures. How do you feel this contributes to the work?

I don’t conceive of one without the other. I need poetry to make the artwork or else it would be just a three-dimensional piece. I have always believed, nonetheless, that my sculptures need to go beyond that and into the fourth dimension, which is connecting with people and with the actual artwork. It’s about finding something beyond the physical, and poetry does that very well for me.

Sculpture of a woman pulling a globe

The Force of Nature I by Lorenzo Quinn

6. Which artists have been most influential on your practice?

The classic masters such as Michelangelo, Bernini, Rodin as well as Salvador Dali and my own father…

For more information visit: lorenzoquinn.com

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installation view of artworks on gallery wall
installation view of artworks on gallery wall

Installation view of Lethe by Henrik Uldalen at JD Malat Gallery, Mayfair

Henrik Uldalen is a self-taught artist, who caught the attention of gallerist Jean-David Malat via his Instagram account. His impasto portraits depict the tumultuous variety of human emotion. Following the opening of his second solo show Lethe at JD Malat Gallery in Mayfair, we speak to the artist about inspiration, social media and the colour pink.

Artist sitting in sutdio

Artist Henrik Uldalen in his studio

1. Can you tell us about the concept for Lethe?

The show, in broad terms, is about history versus the collective memory, and how the zeitgeist of our time is polarising the society with the use of fear and glorified notions of the past.

2. What inspires you to start a new series or artwork?

Most of time I don’t need inspiration to start a new series. The need to create and express is always within, and if I don’t get it out of my system I know I won’t be a happy man. Over the years I’ve come to learn this about myself, and how to practically force myself out of the door in order to function as a person.

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3. Are the figures you paint imagined or drawn from personal memories?

The people you see are models that I approach, but all the figures are also me. Every piece I make is a self-portrait projected onto a stranger, expressing my inner most intimate feelings and moods.

Abstract portrait painting of a woman

Artwork by Henrik Uldalen

4. How do you think social media is impacting the way we view art?

Social media is a blessing and a curse. The way you’re able to reach out to people across the globe with the click of link is mind boggling. Especially growing up in a small town in Norway this impacted my career in a massive way. Unfortunately, I find social media too superficial and narrow to be able to convey any deeper meanings from the artist to the viewer. In the same way that you can’t fully appreciate a beautifully cooked dish described through even the most flowery language, you’re not able to feel a painting as you’re supposed to in a split second over a 13x7cm phone screen.

Painting of figures embracing against pink background

Artwork by Henrik Uldalen

5. The portraits in Lethe are set against a pink background. What significance does the colour have for you?

The colour pink in this exhibition represents the veil we cover our eyes with when we think back on our past. A comforting lie, telling us that everything will be fine as long as we return to our glory days.

Read more: Galerie Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar opens in Monte-Carlo

6. Which artists have most influenced your practice?

I usually look for inspiration in  fields of art other than my own. Movies, TV, books, plays and music are my main sources. I need to not understand the technical aspects of the artwork if I’m to appreciate the piece fully. If I see a painting I would immediately look for compositions, colour combinations and brush strokes, but in reality, I should just feel the piece of work.

‘Lethe’ by Henrik Uldalen runs until 11 January 2020 at JD Malat Gallery, 30 Davies St., Mayfair. For more information visit: jdmalat.com

 

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Man and woman standing in the doorway of a museum gallery space
Man and woman standing in the doorway of a museum gallery space

Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf at Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien. Photo: Christian Mendez

Following the exhibition’s first home at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna earlier this year, Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures has moved to Fondazione Prada’s gallery space in Milan with larger displays and more exhibits than its original incarnation.

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Curated by Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf, the exhibition explores the history of collecting in museums, stripping the barriers of traditional gallery shows and embracing the concept of the kunstkammer (cabinet of curiosities).

Very small coffin shown inside a glass cabinet at a museum

Installation view of ‘Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures’ at Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, showing the Coffin of a Spitzmaus (Shrew), c. 4th century BC. Photo: Jeremais Morandell. Courtesy KHM-Museumsverband

Antique portrait of a philosopher

‘A Philosopher of Antiquity’, Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo, c. 1520/30. Photo: Jeremias Morandell. Courtesy: KHM-Museumsverband

The show’s eclectic display focuses around an unusual star object: the sarcophagus of a shrew. The Spitzmaus coffin (its name comes from the German word for shrew) is a small vessel, gilded and painted with the silhouette of a mouse. Dating from the 4th century BC, it was designed to hold the Egyptian mummified remains of a sacred shrew. The coffin – along with all of the other pieces on display – was selected by Anderson and Malouf from the vast archives of Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, and perfectly encapsulates the quirky aesthetic of the exhibition as a whole.

portrait of a cat leaping along a wooden branch

Unknown, XVIII Sec. Photo by Jeremias Morandell. Courtesy KHM-Museumsverband

This is the Kunsthistorisches’ third exhibition in seven years to welcome creative individuals as curators. Following curations by Ed Ruscha and Edmund de Waal, Anderson and Malouf were selected for their clear artistic vision, unique style and attention to detail. We can see this in many of the pieces they’ve chosen: often small and ornate with a focus on unusual materials, their displays bring together a selection of natural and man-made objects and artworks, presented in separate cases or in clusters.

Read more: Mustafah Abdulaziz wins 2019 LOBA photography award

Portrait of a roman boy from Roman era

‘Mummy Portrait: Young man with fuzz’, Roman, Early Antoine, 2nd quarter 2nd cent. AD. Courtesy: KHM-Museumsverband

Each room shares a distinct quality, that seems to resonate with both Anderson’s and Malouf’s creative universe. In fact, the whole exhibit appears much like the perfectly staged Kunst Museum that Jeff Goldblum is chased through in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Rosie Ellison-Balaam

‘Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures’ runs until 13 January 2020 at the Fondazione Prada in Milan. For more information visit: fondazioneprada.org

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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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Reading time: 6 min
An artwork on paper by artist Raqip Shaw
Facade of PalaisPopulaire at night with a dark indigo sky

The exterior of Deutsche Bank’s PalaisPopulaire, the new Berlin home for its art collection. Opposite: Lohe (1994) by NeoRauch, included in the exhibition ‘The World on Paper’

Spearheaded by the recent opening of Deutsche Bank’s ambitious PalaisPopulaire, new developments are rapidly placing Berlin at the centre of the contemporary art world. Catherine Hickley reports on an extraordinary cultural transformation including the new public home of the German bank’s celebrated art collection and the vast new Humboldt Forum
Portrait of a business man wearing glasses

Thorsten Strauß, Global Head of Art, Culture & Sports at Deutsche Bank

A vibrant, edgy subculture, a liberal reputation and an understated, dilapidated flair have all contributed to Berlin’s status as the world’s most important centre for contemporary art production after New York. The German capital is home to more than 8,000 artists, with big names such as Ai Weiwei, Olafur Eliasson and Alicja Kwade among those who have set up studios there. In fact, more than half of the city’s five million visitors a year say they come for art and culture, and there’s certainly plenty to keep them busy, with world-class art collections, three opera houses, legendary night-clubs such as Berghain, a globally renowned film festival, an orchestra many consider to be the best in the world, dozens of theatres and a lively gallery scene. And slowly, years of building work and construction are making way for a historic centre that visitors and Berliners alike can enjoy.

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Nearly 30 years after the Berlin Wall came down, the city is also shedding its reputation as a capital of the ‘alternative’ (in everything from culture to business) to become a leader in its own right. The German government’s Exzellenzstrategie, announced in 2018, will pump huge sums over decades into the city’s universities and learning institutions. Britain’s departure from the European Union will create an even more powerful political momentum directed towards the city of Alexanderplatz and the Brandenburg Gate. A new international airport, now scheduled to open in 2021 (after years of very un-German delays), will bring world-class international links to the city, and lift its position from the second division of international airline destinations.

Visitor stands in front of gallery exhibition

Deutsche Bank’s exhibition ‘The World on Paper’ at the PalaisPopulaire, 2018, with works by Ellen Gallagher and Ugo Rondinone 

The opening of the PalaisPopulaire on the prestigious Unter den Linden boulevard in the heart of the city in September 2018 is an important landmark in the cultural ascendancy of the city to the highest global level. The new museum and cultural space are owned by Deutsche Bank, which has a vast corporate collection comprising 55,000 works; a total of 133 artists from 34 countries are represented, with an emphasis on works on paper produced after 1945. Much of the collection adorns the walls of the bank’s offices – but the bank has never had space to display it all, and some of the works have never or only rarely been shown. Artists include luminaries such as Gerhard Richter, Joan Mitchell, Sigmar Polke, Andy Warhol, Bruce Nauman, James Rosenquist, Joseph Beuys, Anish Kapoor and Bridget Riley.

Portrait of business woman wearing suit and glasses

Svenja von Reichenbach, Head of PalaisPopulaire Deutsche Bank AG

These artists are all included in the debut exhibition, ‘The World on Paper’, which opened in September with works from the Deutsche Bank collection. But the PalaisPopulaire aims to be more than just a home for one of the largest corporate art collections in the world. The team behind it is hoping to add fuel to Berlin’s creative fire with a future-oriented arts and sports hub hosting talks, concerts, readings, workshops for children, young people and adults, a restaurant and a shop. “This is not a private house for a small select group, it is open to all Berliners and to guests from all over the world,” says Svenja von Reichenbach, the director of the PalaisPopulaire. “We want it to be a lively place. We don’t want to be a dusty old institution. We view ourselves as an open house that thrives on momentum from its visitors.”

Read more: Bicester Village launches a colourful new spring campaign

Before opening the PalaisPopulaire, the bank had the Deutsche Bank KunstHalle nearby on Unter den Linden, which it operated with the Guggenheim Museum until 2013. The PalaisPopulaire represents a threefold increase in exhibition space and will allow the corporate collection to be on permanent public display for the first time. “Deutsche Bank has a rich history of supporting and engaging with contemporary art, particularly in Berlin,” comments Victoria Siddall, the director of the Frieze art fairs. “Their collection is extraordinary and wide-ranging, so I am really happy they are opening this up to the public, alongside a fantastically diverse programme of events which will engage new audiences with art and culture.”

An artwork on paper by artist Raqip Shaw

Untitled (2003) by Raqib Shaw, included in the exhibition ‘The World on Paper’;

That intent has informed Deutsche Bank’s revamp of the historic Prinzessinnenpalais, which Reichenbach describes as “a very exciting and challenging building that incorporates the whole history of Berlin”. Originally built in the mid eighteenth century, it was originally the home of Prussian princesses – including one who married the Russian czar. The palace was seized in the November Revolution of 1918 and suffered severe damage in World War II.

After the war, it was demolished, then rebuilt by the East German authorities, according to a design by Richard Paulick, who also oversaw the reconstruction of the neighbouring Staatsoper Unter den Linden. Paulick rebuilt the original Rococo façade but combined it with a modern interior made of steel and concrete. The Prinzessinnenpalais reopened in 1963 as the Opera Café. With a bar, wine tavern, grill restaurant and occasional disco, it developed into a hub for the East German progressive arts scene, and featured as a filmset in one of East Germany’s most successful movies, The Legend of Paul and Paula, from 1973. After German reunification, it became a café in the Rococo style known as the Opernpalais – its interior complete with painted marbled columns, fake stucco and thick floral carpets. The café, renowned for its sumptuous cakes, has now given way to a modern restaurant with an emphasis on healthy eating (though the cakes are still there, and still made by the same supplier). The chintzy 1990s décor is gone – instead, the Berlin architecture firm Kuehn Malvezzi has opted for a sleek, minimalist look for the PalaisPopulaire.

Visitors attend Berlin Art Week

The PalaisPopulaire opening was timed to coincide with Berlin Art Week in September 2018

“Paulick created the Operncafe as a Berlin living room, a central space in the city with a view of the Neue Wache,” the guardhouse designed by the 19th-century Prussian architect Karl Friedrich Schinkel, says Wilfried Kuehn at Kuehn Malvezzi. “As a GDR architect, he was interested in the complexity of history. He was not a pure modernist, but one who referred heavily to history. From the outside, this architecture doesn’t betray what it is on the inside. It is a modern reinforced concrete structure in a Rococo wrapping, which provides a theatrical backdrop for the city.” From today’s perspective, “it is problematic to create a modern interior and then on the outside, give the appearance that it is a Rococo building, without making these contrasts apparent,” Kuehn adds. “We decided to make these contrasts visible by exposing the structure inside.”

Read more: President of LEMA Angelo Meroni on business with a soul

What Kuehn Malvezzi has done is return the interior to its modernist roots. The exposed concrete pillars and steel pipes, white walls and terrazzo floors lend a clean and austere aesthetic. “Nothing was left of Paulick’s décor on the inside, it was all gone,” Kuehn says. “There are few surviving photos and documents, so there is no record of the original, which meant that reconstructing Paulick’s interior would have been futile.” In fact, the palace at number five on Unter den Linden was completely gutted when Deutsche Bank took it over. “The classic Rococo façade is under heritage protection, but the interior isn’t, and that was very important to us as we wanted to put it to a completely new use,” Reichenbach says. “We wanted to be able to shape the rooms according to our needs. It was important to speak a very modern language inside, so that the visitors have the immediate feeling that they are in a modern institution, because our programme is focussed on the contemporary and the future.” An example of flexibility is an atelier on the top floor, which Kuehn says is designed to serve as an art workshop for children as well as a space for talks and lectures. Its windows offer views of the Prussian grandeur surrounding the Palais – the opera house, the Neue Wache, the rebuilt royal palace and two imposing red-brick churches.

Entrance to PalaisPopulaire Berlin art museum

The PalaisPopulaire

Reichenbach says Deutsche Bank chose Kuehn Malvezzi as its architect because of the company’s track record in designing spaces for art – the firm’s previous projects include the building that houses the Friedrich Christian Flick Collection at the Hamburger Bahnhof museum of contemporary art in Berlin, and the privately owned Julia Stoschek Collection in Düsseldorf. Designing space for art comes with challenges – especially if a client’s emphasis is on openness and accessibility, Kuehn says.

“In a museum, art is unfortunately very hermetic, for several reasons,” he says. “Firstly because of security. Then the climate – it has to be protected. Third, you have to have a ticket area so you can’t give access from all sides of the building. Fourth, you have to give a pathway through the exhibition halls. If you were to have an open, permeable building, you wouldn’t meet these requirements. That’s why you need to generate permeability in the other spaces around the exhibition proper and create strong relations between these two contrasting spaces of a museum.” The firm achieved this sense of ‘permeability’ by creating access to the building from two sides and closing off the former entrance onto Unter den Linden to make a safe, enclosed space for art. A ramp leading up to the Palais from Bebelplatz gives a modern accent to the Rococo façade.

Katharina Grosse colourful artwork

Works shown in ‘The World of Paper’ exhibition, included ‘Untitled’ (1995) by Katharina Grosse

In addition to its exhibition schedule – a permanent show of its own collection that will change every 11 months and a temporary show that will change three times a year – the Palais will also host DJ sets, concerts, and discussions with athletes, actors, writers and musicians. Yanna Schneider, a former taekwondo world champion, will give coaching to school children. One of PalaisPopulaire’s partners is Ben Scheffler, a 30-year-old expert in parkour, or freerunning, an athletic discipline that originated in gritty Parisian suburbs and entails leaping and climbing through an urban landscape. Scheffler will offer workshops for young people.

In the German cultural landscape, which is 90% funded by the state, the PalaisPopulaire stands out as a private arts venture, while the construction projects surrounding show how much public investment is currently being funnelled into Berlin’s cultural life and infrastructure. The State Opera house next door reopened in 2017 after a seven-year revamp; on Museum Island, the vast Humboldt Forum is to open in the Berlin Palace in 2019 and the Pergamon Museum is undergoing a major revamp. In addition, a new underground line connecting the main station to Alexanderplatz is set to open in 2020 – one of its stations will be just by the opera house and PalaisPopulaire. It’s an exciting time to be in Berlin.

For more information visit: db-palais-populaire.com

Humboldt Forum

One of the jewels in the crown of Berlin’s central urban redevelopment is the gigantic Humboldt Forum, just a stone’s throw from the new PalaisPopulaire. At a cost of €595 million (483 million of which is funded by the German government, with the rest from the city of Berlin and private donations) it has been described as “the visiting card of the nation” and “Germany’s most ambitious cultural project” by German culture minister Monika Grütters. Scheduled to open in 2019, like the Palais, the project involves the reconstruction and regeneration of an iconic Berlin landmark (in this case, a former Prussian royal palace) by the Italian architect Franco Stella.

Named after the Prussian naturalist and explorer Alexander von Humboldt and his polymath brother Wilhelm, when complete, it will offer a staggering 40,000 square metres of exhibition space, including Berlin’s non-European ethnological collections and Asian art collections, a permanent city history exhibition, several spaces for temporary exhibitions and the Humboldt Laboratory run by the university. With the aim of staging approximately 1,000 events annually for an audience of about three million visitors a year, it also promises to be free to the public.

This article was originally published in the Winter 19 Issue.

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Painting of Lucian Freud by Jasper Johns at Royal Academy, London
Painting of American flag by artist Jasper Johns on display at Royal Academy in London

‘Flag’ 1958, Jasper Johns. Courtesy: The Art Institute of Chicago.

Collage of grey paint and broom by American artist Jasper Johns: Fool's House

‘Fool’s House’ 1961-62, Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns is one of the most influential artists in America’s contemporary art scene, known for his appropriation and defamiliarization of everyday objects, most notably the US flag, which Johns first painted in 1954.  ‘Something Resembling Truth’ at the Royal Academy, London is the first comprehensive survey of the artist’s work to be held in the UK in 40 years. Spread across several large galleries, the exhibition confidently steers us through Johns’ career beginning with his iconic symbols, including several versions of his famous stars and stripes. Yet, more intriguing, as is so often the case, are the works that come later: dark, morbid collages with decapitated limbs and limp, inanimate objects that force us to recognise the paintings as objects themselves.

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Three colourful canvases prised open by two balls by American contemporary artist Jasper Johns

‘Painting with Two Balls’ 1960, Jasper Johns. Collection of the artist.

In ‘Painting with Two Balls’, the canvases are prised open with small balls, resembling the googly-eyes of a rainbow coloured cartoon monster, to expose the wall behind, whilst ‘Watchman’ depicts the sawn off legs of a figure sitting upside down on chair with colours merging into a shadowy gloom. Johns challenges our perceptions by grabbing hold of the familiar, stretching, mutating, chewing it up and spitting it back out again. It’s an exhibition that deserves time and consideration.

Millie Walton

“Jasper Johns: Something Resembling Truth” runs until 10th December at the Royal Academy, London

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contemporary african art
Peterson Kamwathi contemporary african artist

Peterson Kamwathi, Medical Establishment-from the Sitting Allowance series, 2009, Courtesy of The Heong Gallery

Robert Devereux, former partner of the Virgin empire, served as chairman of the board of Frieze, the Tate Africa Acquisitions Committee and as an advisor to 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Kitty Harris caught up with the African contemporary art collector at The Heong Gallery at Downing College Cambridge for the exhibition of his Sina Jina collection: ‘Where the Heavens Meet the Earth’ to discuss the evolution of the art world, the importance of museums and his long African walk.

Kitty Harris: After completing your degree in History at Cambridge University you went into to publishing and then to work for your then to be future brother in law, Richard Branson. How did this journey lead you to the arts?
Robert Devereux: I got into the arts primarily because of my family. My mother, who particularly loved literature and my dad who had a great love of the visual arts and artefacts. We spent a lot of our summer holidays in Italy which involved going to museums and art galleries. Every year for my mother’s birthday and Christmas present, from the age at which I had pocket money, I brought a reproduction of a Tallantyre piece from Morpeth where we lived. She loved Bruegel’s work so our house was full of them; sadly, none of them were originals.

KH: And why did you start buying art?
RD: It’s so long ago now, I’m not sure if I can remember the answer. I started buying in the late 70s and early 80s when my wife had an art gallery. I don’t suppose I would have become a collector if I hadn’t started in order to support the gallery, maybe not. I started because Vanessa [Branson] had a gallery in Notting Hill. Interestingly, she had three or four African artists in her stable which was highly unusual and completely coincidental, because that was before my engagement in Africa.

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KH: What draws you to the art you do buy?
RD: Like all creative endeavours, an emotional response. Be it excitement, intrigue, interest. I wouldn’t buy a piece if it didn’t move the hairs on the back of my neck – not an intellectual approach I know, but then I begin to try to understand the works. I am fascinated by the thought process – why? Does it mean anything? And if so, is it purely pictorial, sculptural or is there some other significance?

KH: You’ve expressed an aversion to being called a “collector”, preferring the term buyer…
RD: A supporter. Often people say a Patron, I suppose there is nothing wrong with being a Patron but it does also have the connotation of patronage. I would like to think that both my collecting and my creation of the The African Arts Trust are for the support of the artists.

KH: How do you think the purchasing of art has changed since you began in the 70s and 80s?
RD: It’s changed out of all recognition. I was collecting mainly British art then and buying from London galleries, mainly Vanessa’s. The number of collectors, certainly of contemporary art, you could count on the fingers of one had. There were practically none of us. And now, it’s a huge industry and there are hundreds of collectors. There’s been an extraordinary snow balling effect. The creation of the Tate Modern, which has nothing to do with collectors, but it’s interesting that contemporary art has become a huge contemporary cultural phenomenon. The Tate Modern is one of the most visited institutions in the world and that’s amazing given what its content is.

African contemporary art

Aida Muluneh, No. 7 from the 99 series, 2013. Courtesy of The Heong Gallery

KH: Museums seem to have become the attraction of cities…
RD: Yes. Take the Guggenheim in Bilbao, Spain. Now everybody knows that if you want to create social and economic regeneration you do it with an arts project, which is great. I had an interesting conversation with some older artists the other day who said, “When we left art school the thought of being a full time practising artist and earning our living from it never occurred to us. We went to teach or went to work in a museum.” And whilst they would have said it is definitely better now, there is something missing from that period when artists never had to think about selling work, or creating art for gallery deadlines or commercialising. Which is not to say that I think all artists do commercialise because I think most don’t. I think the commercial marketplace does have an effect on the art produced.

Contemporary african art

Lynette Yiadom Boakye, High Power, 2008, Courtesy of The Heong Gallery

KH: Do you think that the role of ultra-high net worth’s in purchasing art has changed the art world? Do you think there is a disconnect between creators and consumers? Or that perhaps artists create for consumers?
RD: I think we live in a very mixed ecology. I think all of the above. It happens in places where there is no real art market where an artist finds that they do something and the local tourists buy it and so they continue to do that because they know it will sell. And then there are artists who completely ignore that phenomena. One thing I find unattractive is art as a fashion and there is a strong element of that in the art market. Of art having become just a display of wealth, a sign of good taste (whatever that means) and a status symbol. I’m not going to name names but suddenly artists take off and it’s very clever artist manipulation by galleries and a few collectors.

KH: You served as Chairman of the board of Frieze, what do you think of the term ‘Fair Fatigue’ and what future do you see for art fairs?
RD: I think they will remain undoubtedly. I don’t say this to support Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp [the founders of Frieze]. There are as many art fairs as there are because they serve a valuable purpose. Are there too many of them? Maybe there are, maybe there aren’t. I think there will be ups and downs and peaks and troughs. I don’t have any doubt that art fairs will be a critical part of the future of the art world. They are wonderful and dreadful at the same time.

african art collecting

Nandipha Mntambo, Enchantment, 2012, Courtesy of The Heong Gallery

KH: You sold your 416 works of post-war British art in 2010 with Sotheby’s to start The African Art Trust. Was it hard to part with those works?
RD: I should probably say it was. Not at the time, it actually wasn’t. Partly because I got to the point where I needed to do something and inevitably as any collector does, you end up with work in storage which I think is most unfortunate. I had come up with the notion of The African Art Trust and the only way I could afford to fund it was to sell the works. I think that made it relatively simply because I think I felt I was doing it with clear and worthwhile purpose. Now, six years later, there are probably parts of that collection that I miss more now than I did then. I don’t really miss them. I miss them in the sense that I still think about them and they are in my imagination. That’s great because in a way I haven’t lost them.

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KH: The funds went to establish The African Arts Trust, a body that continues to fund grass roots organisations in expanding opportunities for artist. Why Africa? And what was your priority with this organisation?
RD: Africa because I had spent a lot of time there and I had been collecting African art for seven or eight years. I suppose I felt with a relatively modest sum of money, it was possible to make, hopefully, an impact there. Whereas if I’d have spent that amount of money in the UK it would have been a drop in the ocean. Also, I think the need there is much greater, which is not to pretend it’s not tough being an artist wherever you are; even in an extremely bright developed economy like ours. I do support The Showroom here, but in a much more modest way. I recognised there were lots of wonderful artists there who could do with a leg up, or some help or some support or some recognition.

Zanele Muholi, Miss D’vine II photography

Zanele Muholi, Miss D’vine II, 2007, Courtesy of The Heong Gallery

Kitty Harris: Tell us more about your Sina Jina Collection?
Robert Devereux: I’ve got a house in Lamu, an amazing Muslim community on the North coast of Kenya. And the house which I brought years and years ago, unusually had no name because it’s very old house and all of the houses in Lamu have a name bestowed upon by the families that own them. So I called the house ‘Sina Jina’ which means the house with no name. The collection never had a name until quite recently and for reasons that I can’t really remember I thought it better have a name. I prefer not to use my name if I possibly can. I called it ‘Sina Jina’ and there are probably 400 works; I’m not sure how many there are.

‘Where the Heavens Meet the Earth’ was a lovely title for the recent exhibition at The Heong Gallery, Downing College Cambridge and there is a certain spirituality of wonderful art – the earthly nature of the pieces connects them. The use of recycled materials: paper and wood. They are dis-proportionally from Eastern and Southern Africa because that’s where I spend most of my time, but there is lots of Western African art in there too; it’s all sub-Saharan. It doesn’t lose significance coming to London, it may change the context or meaning or just have a different significance. It’s medium agnostic. Photography is something I didn’t really collect when I was collecting British art, which is partly because I don’t think I’ve got a very good eye for photography. But there is quite a lot of photography in the collection, which I think partly reflects that there is a very strong practice of it in those countries.

KH: You’re not a gallery, how do you coordinate an international art collection?
RD: I don’t really! There’s not a plan. I do it myself. My girlfriend happens to be my art assistant as well. She does the archiving and tracks things as they move around the country. I haven’t got a curator and I think to me that would be a slightly weird thing to do, For me, the main enjoyment and what I get most out of it personally is exploring the artist’s world, meeting with them and engaging with them. I understand if you have big ambitions as a collector why you would have to do that. I would rather it subject to a random degree of subjectivity and was kept very personally.

Rotimi Fani Kayode,

Rotimi Fani Kayode, Grapes, 1989, Courtesy of ABP and The Heong Gallery

KH: What’s next for you?
RD: I went for a long African walk at the end of 2015/16. I walked the length of the African Rift Valley. I spent six and half months walking and the reason I mention it is that one of the reasons I did it was to clear my decks. So that I could come back and think about the last twenty years of my life (which are probably the last twenty active years of my life) and decide what I wanted to do. Before I went away I stopped collecting about six months before I left and haven’t really started again. I’ve bought one or two things. One of the things the walk made me think about, which I think about continuously anyway, is what am I doing as a collector? I’ve got a relatively small resource and how is it best used and applied? Is the best way of spending what I have got to collect? Or should I use that money in different ways? Anything I buy now goes straight into storage, which is ridiculous. I’ve got to the point in my life, I’m an old man, where I ‘m beginning to think where is it going to go eventually? In an ideal world, I would love to gift it to an institution, ideally to an African one. It would be wonderful if it could go back to Africa, but there’s nowhere obvious that I know of where it could go to. Then of course my children, in many way it’s as much theirs as it is mine. Quite what they would wish to do with I’m not sure. I’m trying not to start buying again until I’ve solved some of those issues.

KH: Which piece of art would you save in a fire?
RD: There’s always two ways of asking that question which is either: which is your favourite piece? Of which I don’t have one. Or to do what you did, which my cunning son asked. My answer: the one nearest to me. I really don’t have a favourite. I’m now trying to imagine myself in the fire and running out and it would be whatever I could realistically get out.

 

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Marc Chagall, Dos à dos, 1984

Marc Chagall, Dos à dos, 1984

Marc Chagall’s star still shines bright today: the Russian-French Modernist is coveted by collectors and connoisseurs alike. Our columnist explains why JEAN-DAVID MALAT

opera1Personally, Marc Chagall is by far my favourite Modern artist. His paintings are somewhat like dreams and they remind me of my childhood: indeed, my grandfather was Polish and my grandmother’s family originally from Russia. Growing up, I listened to their stories and traditional tales and, in my mind, these resembled the colourful and oneiric scenes depicted by Chagall.

I think that up to today, he has influenced a lot of Israeli and Russian contemporary artist. He stayed true to his own style all his life. And even Picasso – who is known for being very critical of fellow artists – was a lover of Chagall’s works. I believe it is all down to the combination of colours, and the love and family values he put into his paintings. These are unique.

And the market seems to have picked up on this too. The presence of artworks by the late Master Painter in every major Modern Art auction around the world since the mid-2000s illustrates the recognition that his art has gained on the art market and with art collectors alike. An example of how this artist’s value on the art market has been reinforced since 2005 can be observed in the results of “La Femme du Peintre” (1970). In 1996, this 100 x 65 cm oil on canvas was auctioned at Sotheby’s New York for USD 650,000 (within the estimated USD 600,000 – 800,000). In 2012, the exact same painting was auctioned again at Sotheby’s New York. It was then sold for a hammer price of USD 1,800,000. That’s almost three times more than in 1996, the kind of trend more usually seen by living artists these days. This tendency is due to the fact that the demand for quality paintings by the Master Chagall keeps getting higher, while fewer and fewer pieces are available on the market.

Marc Chagall,Le coq sur fond Noir, 1968

Marc Chagall,Le coq sur fond Noir, 1968

To this day, the record price for a Chagall artwork to sell at an auction was at the August 2013 Christie’s New York sale, when “Les trois acrobates” (1926) sold for USD 11,500,000; well above the estimate between USD 6,000,000 – 9,000,000.

Considering all of the above, it is no surprise that the art market statistics website artprice.com has evaluated that USD 100 invested in 1999 in a Marc Chagall work will have an average value of 178 USD in September 2013.

But beyond that, the world’s most respected art institutions are constantly paying tribute to his great heritage: In 2013, two major UK institutions hosted Chagall exhibitions – Tate Liverpool and Manchester Jewish Museum – that looked into the Jewish heritage and modernist influences that shaped his career; while the Grand Palais in Paris hosted an exhibition of self-portraits at the Musée National Marc Chagall in Nice.

As for 2014, the first major retrospective in Spain devoted to Chagall will take place at the Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, curated by President of the Comité Chagall, Jean-Louis Prat.

At Opera Gallery, we have been sourcing artworks by Chagall for our collectors since around 2003-2004. And thanks to our international network, we have access to numerous Chagalls, via international collectors.

Marc Chagall,Maries au village,1969

Marc Chagall,Maries au village,1969

In 2006, we hosted our first Chagall solo exhibition in London, which was extremely well-received by our public and collectors. Later, in 2011, we had a Chagall exhibition in Opera Gallery Monaco, then in Geneva. And in May 2013, we decided to bring our collection to Asia and hosted a large retrospective exhibition in Opera Gallery Hong Kong.

It is with great pride that we will also be hosting a retrospective in London, opening on the 15 May 2014 and with which we aim to highlight the prominent role the Russian painter played within the history of art; and also to reinforce even further his value and recognition on the current art market.

Jean-David Malat is Director of the international Opera Gallery group. The Opera Gallery’s Chagall retrospective shows in London in May 2014 and in Singapore in autumn 2014.

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Theaster Gates Photo: Sara Pooley Courtesy White Cube

Theaster Gates Photo: Sara Pooley Courtesy White Cube

Theaster Gates is a phenomenon — one of the world’s most influential artists, he features at number 56 on Art Review’s list of the most powerful people in art. Gates is also a plain-speaking social commentator and activist. Some of his most powerful work is on display this fall at simultaneous shows held at White Cube’s galleries in Hong Kong and Sao Paulo, Brazil. The shows are dominated by ‘salvaged materials’ — found objects, including junk, in layman’s terms— and speak of homelessness, forced migration, and religious and political persecution.

Gates comes from Chicago’s notorious South Side, where he still lives and works. His voice voice is a clear and powerful call connecting art, urban chaos and decay (he trained as an urban planner) and social issues that interweave the world. They are impossible to understand unless seen up close and personal — as anyone who saw his powerful ‘12 Ballads for Huguenot House’, created for last year’s dOCUMENTA (13) fair in Germany, can testify. Now you have a very good excuse for that visit to Hong Kong or Brazil.

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