A discussion between Sophie Cullinan and Elena Thomas, on Sophies’ a-n blog – which is a great read, about what constitutes “best” in terms of materials lead me to thinking about the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ and how I had misunderstood this for many years. (Misunderstanding seems to be prevalent at the moment!) In addition to thinking about materials I have begun thinking about what is ‘best’ and ‘fittest’ in terms of where I want to show my work. Perhaps it is not so much a question of what kind of gallery but what kind of context. The distinction may initially seem trivial however the more I think about it the more appropriate it seems as a starting point for investigating options.
The context in which an artwork is encountered lends, gives, infers some kind of meaning in some way. Or if not meaning, then at least it provides a framework within which you begin understanding the piece before you. Writing this now I wonder if this has not always been something that I have struggles* with.
When I have written about approaching ‘a gallery’ I have specific galleries in mind. This week I went to a talk organised (in part) by my favourite commercial gallery here – Galleri Andersson / SandstrÃ¶m. It was a fantastic interesting stimulating conversation between the artist Enrique Martinez Celaya and writer Theodore Kallifatides in response to questions of Exile, Reconciliation and Creativity posed by Kerstin Brunnberg from the city’s culture department. Beyond being great in itself the evening made me realise why I like this gallery – their artists tend to be academic and intellectual in a very personable and approachable way. It was an absolute pleasure to hear both artists criticise the rise of cynicism in the arts and education. Yesterday I started reading Enrique Martinez Celaya’s collected writings (1990 -2010), I have the feeling that this is a book that will certainly inform my practice, perhaps not in terms of content or appearance but certainly in terms of conviction and perhaps if I have sufficient courage in terms of context.
The attraction of a commercial gallery is not the possibility of making money in itself, rather it is the possibility to ‘earn’ time and means to produce more, to go further, to develop. Therefore it is essential that it be the ‘right’ commercial gallery, one with interests beyond the art market: a gallery that sees their artists and the art that they produce as more than just a commodity. I am sure that most commercial galleries do this however I am certainly drawn to galleries where this feeling is (to me) palpable.
Enrique Martinez Celaya’s show opens at the new Andersson / SandstrÃ¶m gallery (they are re-locating to a far bigger space) on Saturday – I am really excited to see his work!
* a typo – meant to be struggled but struggles is better – more present!