Brussels Gallery Weekend speaks with Gallerist Greta Meert
BGW: Can you tell us a about the history of the gallery?
GM: The gallery is located in the center of Brussels and has been working for over 30 years with renowned international artists. The three stories, Art Nouveau industrial building makes it possible to maintain an expanded exhibition schedule.
BGW: Can you describe your gallery program, what types of shows have you presented?
GM: In 1988, Galerie Greta Meert opened with Thomas Struth’s ﬁrst international showing followed by exhibitions with Robert Mangold, Richard Tuttle, Louise Lawler, John Baldessari and Hanne Darboven. In 1992, the gallery presented Isa Genzken’s early sculptures and started to show the work of Donald Judd. These ﬁrst exhibitions demonstrate the gallery’s aim to bring forth the work of these innovative artists at a time when they were still relatively unknown in Belgium. From the very beginning, one of the main focuses of the gallery has been on Minimal and the Conceptual Art. The signiﬁcance of photography in conceptual strategies has also been a substantial interest in the programming of the gallery throughout the years. As early as 1991, Galerie Greta Meert was one of the ﬁrst European galleries to show artists such as Ian Wallace, Jeﬀ Wall and Ken Lum who have collectively been referred to as the Vancouver School. During the 1990s and early 2000 the program was further developed around the work of artists like Carl Andre, Robert Barry, Jef Geys, Peter Joseph, Shirley Jaﬀe, Sol LeWitt, Jean-Luc Moulène, Fred Sandback, Niele Toroni, Didier Vermeiren and Michael Venezia. Concurrently, the gallery has played an important role in the rediscovery of an older generation of Italian artists who had been eclipsed by the Arte Povera movement. These artists notably include Carla Accardi, Gianfranco Baruchello, Enrico Castellani and Mimmo Jodice.
BGW: What’s planned for upcoming shows?
GM: In more recent years the gallery has become committed to a younger generation of Belgian and international artists whose work builds on the gallery’s distinctive artistic identity and historical standpoint. We have a group show planned focussed on painting during Brussels Gallery Weekend, after that we will present two shows by Belgian artists, Sophie Nys and Koen Van den Broek.
BGW: What are the speciﬁcities and strengths of Brussels’ contemporary art scene according to you?
GM: Over the past few years Brussels has developed into an international go-to place for artists, curators and gallerists. Its central location and easy connections to other cities, the reasonable living costs, a high concentration of private collectors and a broad audience make the city an interesting place to be in terms of contemporary art. There is something both very aesthetic and very brutal about Brussels. And that is mirrored in the arts. This combination produces a very speciﬁc atmosphere, a dynamic perspective. What are your thoughts on the new forms of galleries emerging in Brussels? The new forms of collaborating gallerists and curators seem promising. At the Art Brussels fair a new section was installed called ‘invited’ to highlight these new initiatives such as La Maison des Rendez-Vous and Paid by the artist. It has become diﬃcult for small and midsize galleries to survive although they are necessary to the contemporary art scene. They have an important role in supporting and introducing young artists to this scene. By organising themselves in a collaborative way, the platform to show these young artists gets extended internationally and costs are shared and reduced.
BGW: To your experience, what diﬀerentiates “weekends” from art fairs?
GM: Art fairs provide a platform to introduce your artists in the international market. It has become necessary to show the work of your artists in this context. However, at art fairs there is an overload of impulses, it becomes challenging to engage with the art. Art weekends encourage to keep going to galleries, to look and learn in depth about the art and the artist. You see more traﬃc on these weekends, people visit the gallery more, which translates into deeper relationships that support the artist and the gallery. What is most important to you in taking part in an event like a Gallery Weekend? The annual Brussels Gallery Weekend announces the start of the new year for all galleries in Brussels, After the summer break, alot of people are on the move through the city and you reach a wider audience that comes to see the exhibitions. Everybody opens at the same time and that creates a synergy, it’s a moment where the whole city buzzes with contemporary art.
Brussels Gallery Weekend speaks with the Chateau Nour
BGW: Can you tell us a little about your background and how did the Chateau Nour project was initiated? How and when did it all start?
CN: Beside each of us having develop our own identity and ways of working, we all have a strong and long time presence grass rooted in the Brussels Art scene. ( Komplot has started his activities in 2002 and reshaped over the year in 3 different Brussels’ locations, Clovis XV, in Schuman neighborhood, has organized in-house exhibitions since 2014; mosso, creative platform to support exchanges in between Global South & Europe, is active since 2014; Rectangle in between 2012-2017, has presented numerous projects on his outdoor billboard in St Gilles; In the same district SUPERDEALS has opened since 2014 a project room and offer short term artist residency. ) The Château Nour adventure has started in early 2018 with Komplot’s public space project, which was already engaged in the Cureghem neighborhood, then they invited Mosso for a joint venture. Later on, Clovis XV expressed their desire to search for a new space and to federate with SUPERDEALS and Rectangle. After one year of negotiation with the social housing department we finally obtain a two floors space and a vitrine, in the former hair Salon Nour, located near a collective garden. This specific location, in a multicultural district, was a point of attraction for all of us gathered in Château Nour, and also challenging as less identify on the usual “art cartography” of Brussels.
BGW: We know that the Chateau Nour project is a collaborative project between the nonprofit spaces Clovis XV, Komplot, Mosso, Rectangle and SUPERDEALS. How is it to run a space with such a diversity of visions?
CN: No secret recipe here. It’s a balance to find, adjust and negotiate. At the same time we are drawing some guidelines that will help us harmonizing the burden of all the admin and logistics and thus be more free, curious and able to dedicate most of our time to the artistic program. We are exciting to approach this collaboration as a research. An ongoing experiment by putting in common space, knowledge, practice, resources, skills which will take us, all together and individually, to a new journey in our curating – art making practices. We are very curious to discover each other proposals and looking forward to addressing this new dynamic, where the identity of our 5 associations can mingle and not be branded as a label. This balance will be reflected within the organization of our own projects and the creation of specific moments of collaboration between the residents. We aim to privilege those research moments to become public.
BGW: Can you discuss the exhibition program ? What’s the specificity of Chateau Nour? Residency & exhibition, workshop and more…
CN: For each of us, an exhibition program elaborates differently, some are working with an annual programme, and some others have a more spontaneous programme, mainly shaped by encounters and the flexibility of their agenda.
One of the plus of Château Nour premise is our new renovated two bedrooms residency, along a shared–office room and our vitrine/exhibition space. The residency (for artists, curators, …) will allow space and time for their research and a public restitution. The stay of the residents from the different associations can overlap and generate collaboration, discussion, and unexpected projects.
Aside the exhibition & residency schedule we also would like to keep our doors open to other forms of collaborations, by offering carte blanche to various actors of the field. We also want to engage more at an international level and host foreign artists (or collective) for longer residency period (1-2 months). They could you use the exhibition space as a working studio, eventually ending their stay by an invitation of their choices (exhibition, screening, talk, workshop,…)
We do not want to be limited by a classical ‘’exhibition format” but showing and questioning other ways to program art forms. Interdisciplinary and participative projects will be our focus. In that sense, the specific setting of Château Nour opens the discussion in between the neighborhood, the other residents, the collective garden, the other local activities, …
BGW: How do you place yourself in the Brussels Art Scene?
CN: As a collective of collectives: A gathering of artists run spaces (Rectangle, Clovis XV, SUPERDEALS) and curators run spaces (Komplot and mosso) aiming at collaborating together and hosting others projects/persons in one place, meant to be a platform for cooperation between artists, curators and non-artistic groups.
BGW: What are the specificities and strengths of Brussels’ contemporary art scene according to you?
CN: It’s a constellation of smaller spaces and larger institutions. They provide a fluid and wide offer but remain mainly based either on the model of an institutional and /or commercial wealthy culture consumption, either relying on investment from private donors, which are opening foundations. The general power and economical dynamic are slowly changing of hands in some other fields but we must keep on questioning the classical structure of programming in the contemporary arts and seek for more ethical and sustainable ways.
BGW: How does a project like Château Nour reinvent the traditional gallery model?
CN: We are not looking at challenging the gallery model. Other alternative models can co-exist and Château Nour wants to set down in this diversity of proposals.
As curators and artists we care for the environment and how this specific context fuelled and influenced our perception and creativity. The specific urban & social landscape of Cureghem, layered with diversity, will be our main source of inspiration and field of experiments. Château Nour’s location, in an area of Brussels which is not yet very developed in terms of artistic and cultural offers, is at the same time a strength and a challenge that we must meet. Without being naïve, it is important for us, to make contemporary art, part of the common and facilitate its access to the local inhabitants.
Q&A | Marie Delas (Paris Gallery Weekend) in conversation with Loïc Garrier from Galerie Ceysson & Bénétière (Paris)
MD: What’s the history of the gallery, when did it start and how did it expand?
LG: The gallery was created by François Ceysson and Loïc Bénétière with Bernard Ceysson as artistic advisor in 2006 in Saint Étienne.
In 2008, they opened a second space in Luxembourg, 2009 the third in Paris and then in 2012 in Geneva (closed in 2017). It is at this moment, in 2012 that I began to work in Paris with them. In 2015, the gallery opened the first mega space in Luxembourg and finally in 2017, our New York space was inaugurated.
MD: With spaces in Saint Etienne and Paris, and now with multiple branches- where does the gallery stand today and how would you define it?
LG: Today, the gallery is in 4 different locations: Paris, Saint Étienne, Luxembourg and New York. The gallery is represented by François Ceysson and Loïc Bénétière and also by three directors Maëlle Ebelle (mostly in Luxembourg), Ellie Rines (New York) and myself in Paris.
The aim of these different galleries is to propose to our collectors and artists a multiplicity of exhibitions. In May 2019, for example we will have a solo show of Mounir Fatmi in Paris for the Gallery Weekend, the first exhibition of Daniel Firman in New York, and monumental works of Bernar Venet in Luxembourg and the young French artist Nicolas Momein will be presented in Saint Étienne. The gallery program is interrelated to each gallery and we considered it all together.
MD: What are the perspectives of Ceysson & Bénétière in the near future?
Our next step will be to open a second space in Saint Étienne with this giga-space in the hometown of the gallery is important for us. Bernard Ceysson as director created (as it is today) the Museum of Modern Art there in 1988, and 30 years later it is important to follow-up with this commitment. The project is to create a gallery but also a real-life community in dialogue with the institutions next to the location as Cité du Design, the School of Fine Arts (Saint Étienne).r
MD: The gallery is now taking part in numerous fairs a year and has several locations. How do you personally relate to the Paris space (i.e. are you involved in the other spaces or are you specifically in charge of the Paris’ space.) What is its importance according to you?
In 2018, we did 18 art fairs across the world, such as FIAC and Drawing Now in Paris but also Art Basel Miami Beach, Abu Dhabi Art, Art Brussels… it‘s really important to promote our artists and meet new foreign collectors. Of course, as a French gallery, Paris is the space most seen but when we talk to collectors at fairs about our other space in Luxembourg or about the project in Saint Etienne, it arouses their curiosity.
MD: How do you see the engagement from collectors and the general public in coming to the galleries today… Is it different from city to city?
From our perspective, our collectors are really following all the gallery/ies, from Luxembourg to Paris and New York, they like to be aware of what is coming next.
We like to build a collection with them and assist them in the plurality of our artistic offers. Each city have it’s own public of course, for example, the Wandhaff’s space has an attraction with Luxembourgish collectors and also the Belgian public.
MD: What is most important to you in taking part in an event like Paris Gallery Weekend?
Paris Gallery Weekend is a great moment in the year. We will open our first Mounir Fatmi solo show in the gallery. It is a really nice moment of conviviality and welcoming in the galleries.
We are a young team and it is important for us to show that, we try to be part of all events as dynamic as Paris Weekend Gallery. The offer to the public for this weekend is strong and they can discover or re-discover artists from one gallery to another.
MD: What are the specificities and strengths of Paris’ gallery scene in comparrison with your other locations?
Paris will be always Paris, my hometown is Saint Etienne and I am a Parisian.
The strengths of Paris of course is the internationality of the city, the density of the galleries here is incredible and the contemporary art scene is really strong.
Q & A between Michael Hall (from Gallery Weekend Chicago) and the Chicago gallerist Marc LeBlanc.
GWC: Can you tell us a little about your background and how you started the gallery? I know you’re from Chicago and that you were working in Berlin and LA for a long period of time.
ML: I’m from Lake County, about thirty miles north of the city – a land of golf courses, shopping malls and exceptional bagels. I left Chicago at the age of 23 and moved around quite a bit, first up and down California, then abroad. I lived in Berlin for about seven or so years. Though in Chicago before I had a gallery [called 1R] from 2000-2004, made a few dozen exhibitions there, a few fairs too. And from there, I’ve written for magazines, worked at other galleries, curated independently and advised a bit, done a catalog text here and there.
GWC: So, why did you decide to open your space in Chicago and not in Berlin or LA? As you have (so far) shown a good mix of international artists who are perhaps better known in Berlin or LA.
ML: Galleries tell a story with their program. Each builds a narrative that shapes a community of artists and puts forward an aesthetic that not only defines a collected approach but also represents what the gallery posits as the value of making art today. Chicago, despite having not lived here much in the past decade, is much a part of my story. It’s where I first cut my teeth and the program I returned to bring to the audience here is a reflection of my lived experience, it’s quite simple in that regard.
GWC: I am also curious why you decided to open your space outside of the traditional gallery neighborhoods of West Loop or West Town where a majority of your peers are located? I know you took a lot of time in the renovation of the space. It’s a very nice clean space but not a typical white cube gallery.
ML: Where the space is located, as long as it’s not too far flung, was never something in my mind. What I did want was a memorable space in a fairly quiet part of the city. My gallery is a turn of-the-century building, it’s quite nondescript outside, but inside it has antique tile floors, and oak trim around the windows, and brass handles and hardware throughout. I wanted a space that was warm, a space of transitions, a space where visitors don’t feel disposable, and a space that can challenge artists in how they make exhibitions.
GWC: Chicago has always been a challenging art market for galleries, even though it has all the necessary ingredients (world class museums and private collections, art schools, an international art fair, etc..). Historically the more ambitious collectors have preferred to buy from galleries in NYC or London. What kind of feedback have you received from local collectors, either at your gallery or at fairs…
ML: I’ve created a number of exhibitions in the past, so this isn’t my first rodeo so to speak, so the collectors and curators that I’ve known for years seem quite excited about the fact I now have a permanent ground to seed some ideas. As a whole, I enjoy learning how other people see exhibitions, works, and how they respond to the development of the program. I aim to thin a thickening fence by necessitating criticality, having visitors even dislike the exhibitions rather than promote a middling aesthetic of little to no consequence, that’s good to me, that’s progress.
GWC: Do you think it’s (still) possible or necessary to have a complex gallery program as gallery foot traffic decreases and most works are seen piece-meal via art fairs or on social media. As the methodology of presenting and distributing art via fairs/social media that the gallery program has to mutate from what we’ll call more ‘classical’ gallery programs to a newer model. Do you see your gallery program within this classical’ or newer model?
ML: It’s surely possible. Whether it’s necessary or not, what I can say is that, it’s necessary to me. I don’t agree that what a gallery is… has to mutate to cater to a market shift that’s so soft-minded. I don’t think this is what you’re championing, merely noting, but the changes you’ve brought up as a result of the proliferation of art via social media as one example, are all the more reason to me that deliberate, steadfast, and well-defined programs are essential, and we see that, those are the younger dealers who stand out, as opposed to capitulating to a collective lowering of the bar where artists are expendable and all work has an expiry date, that’s just not in my head, not why I turn on the lights.
GWC: What shows or projects are you currently working on?
ML: 2019 began with a two-person exhibition of Darja Bajagić and Sekana Radović, I’m very excited to make that exhibition, and it’ll run into March. During that time, travel will bring us to the Material Art Fair in Mexico City with a presentation from LA artist JPW3, and then another solo presentation of Mark Verabioff in Art Cologne’s Neumarkt section.
Victor Leyton and Juan Pablo Vergara co-directors of Galeria Weekend Santiago in conversation with Paul Birke from the gallery Die Ecke.
Can you tell us a little about your background and how you started your gallery? How and when did it all start?
The origin of the Die Ecke project is circumstantial due to my training as an architect and my family. When I returned to Santiago in 2000 after having completed a postgraduate degree in architecture in Barcelona, I returned to my duties as an architect but this time more related to the arts. The gallery in Santiago is located in “Barrio Italia” a neighborhood with many artist studios and since the begining of the gallery it a had a comfortable “neighborhood” vibe.
The gallery was founded in 2003 and after 2 years of a trial period it formally began in 2015 with a program of 7 exhibitions per year. Its main characteristic was to work only with contemporary art and young artists. The mission remains two-fold, the professional representation of artists and the incentive of collecting contemporary art.
Can you describe your gallery program, what types of shows have you presented. What’s planned for upcoming shows.
The program of the gallery is based on 70% in granting visibility to the artists represented by the gallery, leaving the rest of the programming to young or foreign artists. The contents of the exhibitions have a contemporary language and are aimed at presenting new projects that each artist brings us, approximately every three years, together with their works to be exhibited in the gallery. At this moment we are starting a new stage that will limit the exhibitions to only 4 annually, in this way they will last longer and incorporate the work with curators and Latin American artists.
What differentiates Santiago to other cities. Do you feel that Santiago is relative to other cities on an international scale? How is it different/unique?
The main differentiating feature of our city is that it is geographically far from the rest of the cities and their art industries. This characteristic makes us more unknown and therefore attractive to people who seek to know new scenes in art. A secondary characteristic of our city and its art scene is that it is small and this hinders its development to have a bounded internal demand that does not grow at the same level as the artists.
As the methodology of presenting and selling art has changed (via fairs/social media), do you think the ‘classical’ brick and mortar gallery is necessary? If so, what specific changes have you made or experienced?
I think the model is changing and the classic gallery format will be transformed in a short time, reorienting itself to a virtual form of development where the content of the projects will take precedence over the work itself and the quality of the management will be above all more demanding. As an example, today our gallery is trying to export its content occupying its headquarters in Barcelona as a European showcase for our artists.
From your experience what differentiates ‘weekends’ from art fairs?
The first thing is that it is humanized, since the exchange takes place in the very places where we work throughout the year, it is like the city comes to see us at home. Secondly, it does not require us to have to risk a quantity of resources that often is not rewarded by the fairs, I think the ‘weekend’ format goes hand in hand with the changes of the galleries system and above all it fits small scenes like our city.
#Santiago #DieEcke #André Komatsu #CarstenHöller #Barcelona
Carsten Höller, “Half Past And Half To” 2013 – 2014 at Die Ecke
André Komatsu, ESTADOS DE EXCEÇÃO 2018 at Die Ecke
Q. When and how did C A S S T L open?
C A S S T L opened in March 2017 with an exhibition by Filip Collin. It was his first solo exhibition after graduating from The Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts in 2014.
Q: So, the name C A S S T L is made up of your initials (Carla Arocha, Stéphane Schraenen, Luc Tuymans). What motivated you to open a (gallery/exhibition) space- as you are all busy working artists?
Correct, it is our initials. Our motivation was to open a space free from the constrains of commercial galleries, where we would show what we want within the limits of our possibilities. We are also interested in providing a place for young artist to exhibit their work and for viewers to experience art freely.
Q: How is it to run a space with three artists with three (potentially) different visions?
We are quite intertwined in our practice. CA and SS have been collaborating artistically since 2005; CA and LT are married. Luc and Stephane know each other for over 30 years so the bond between us three is quite strong. If we would not have things in common, we would not be hanging together… each one with our own differences and particularities. Luc and Stephane are from Antwerp, they have always lived here and Carla chose to come to live in Antwerp in 1999 after meeting Luc in Chicago in 1995. In a way, being in Antwerp is circumstantial…
Q: Can you discuss the exhibition program, what types of shows has C A S S T L presented and what‘s planned for upcoming shows.
Our program is quite organic, normally one comes up with an idea or a suggestion and we go on from there. For example, some of our exhibitions have been 1st solo exhibitions by artist. In another instance we presented a performance by Karl Holmqvist in collaboration with Pinkie Bow Tie, (another artist ran space from Antwerp, Vaast Colson, Peter Flengler, Dennis Tyfus and Nico Dockx). Last year we also had the chance to present Gustav Metzger thanks to his estate and West in Den Haag. We exhibited his last large scale installation “Eichmann and the Angel”. [The group show] “No Pressure” was an exhibition of works of our art collections, this exhibition made clear that our intention is to provide a viewing experience, provoking thought and possibly pleasure, hence the title.
At C A S S T L we do not represent, sell or promote careers. If there is ever an interest for an art work to be bought, we put the interested party in direct contact with the artist, from any sales we do not take commissions. In most occasions we have produced editions with exhibiting artists.
We plan to continue programming this way in addition to inviting individuals to curate exhibitions at C A S S T L. Coming up is the presentation of a project by Gert Verhoeven, followed by an exhibition by Chicago-based artist Margaret Welsh and a curatorial project by Shirley Morales of ltd los angeles.
Q: Why choose Antwerp as your base of operations and do you feel Antwerp is relative on a global scale?
The art scene is quite diverse in Antwerp and not that small considering the size of the city. The ‘scene’ to a large degree is cooperative and friendly, at times international and at times local. I think it is important to clarify that every so-called city with a global projection also has a local scene.
Q: As artists you each travel a lot, do you feel Antwerp is relative to other cities on an international scale or is it unique… what differentiates Antwerp to other cities?
Every city has its idiosyncrasies and circumstances. Antwerp has
been in need of exhibition spaces for some time now. Medium size and small commercial galleries have a hard time surviving in this day and age and although it is not our motive to solve that problem, we intend to offer a place where one can go and experience art. Antwerp being a small city, has always been international considering the size of its port, its long term and recent modern and contemporary art history and as of the last 30 years it has also achieved relevance in the world of fashion.
#CASSTL #LucTuymans #CarlaArocha #StéphaneSchraenen #FilipCollin #Gert Verhoeven #MargaretWelsh #Antwerp #KarlHolmqvist #PinkieBowtie #GustavMetzger #ltdlosangeles
Partner: ANTWERP ART WEEKEND
GWdotORG is organising an Antwerp_Gallery-in-Residence to coincide with the Antwerp Art Weekend (May 16-19, 2019) inviting international galleries to exhibit a Solo Project in Antwerp
participating galleries are Charim (Vienna), Clages (Cologne), Devening Projects (Chicago) and Martinetz (Cologne)
Gallery Weekend Mexico City
SAVE THE DATE:
5 – 8 September, 2019
Barcelona Gallery Weekend
SAVE THE DATE:
26 – 29 September, 2019
Melbourne Gallery Weekend is our new Australian partner.
Visit www.melbournegalleryweekend.com for upcoming dates and programming.
Lisbon Art Weekend is our new partner in Portugal.
November 15-17, 2019
visit lisbonartweekend.com for more information
GalleryWeekend.Org is an umbrella group of independent weekends, art fairs and contemporary art associations from around the globe.