Interviews with Gallerists
#3 Marc LeBlanc (Chicago) March 2019
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.
Interviews with Gallerists
#2 Die Ecke (Santiago) Feb. 2019
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
Interviews with Galleries
#1 C A S S T L (Antwerp) Feb. 2019
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
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26 – 29 September, 2019
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