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7. Gallery Talks: 20 Hoxton Sq.

Gallery Talks: Posted on Feb 25, 2011 07:39AM

This interview was published online on 24th February 2011 for SAATCHI ONLINE.

Alexander Dellal knows what he’s doing.

Imagine you wake up tomorrow and you’ve been left with a whole building in a prime prime location in London – what would you do with it? Would you turn it into a gallery? Well that’s what Alexander Dellal did 4 years ago. To see the entire interview click here.

Join the Gallery Talks: Facebook page!

Previous Gallery Interviews:

1. Gallery
Talk: Riflemaker Gallery

2. Gallery
Talk: Thomas Dane Gallery

3. Gallery Talk: Mummery +Schnelle Gallery

4. Gallery Talk: Hannah Barry Gallery

5. Gallery Talk: Mauger Modern Art Gallery

6. Gallery Talks: All Visual Arts

6. Gallery Talks: All Visual Arts

Gallery Talks: Posted on Dec 04, 2010 04:07AM

This interview was published online on 11th November 2010 for SAATCHI ONLINE

Today Joe La Placa tried to convince me that the art of ‘All Visual Arts’ isn’t themed.

London’s All Visual Arts is made up of a
trinity. Joe La Placa: the art insider, Mike Platt: the wealthy
financier and last but not least, the artists. One wouldn’t be the same
without the other two – a truly dream team of the art world.

I met Joe La Placa. Here’s how it went:

Tell us a little about your role at All Visual Arts.

JLP: AVA is a partnership between Mike Platt and
myself. Mike is the CEO of BlueCrest Capital Management and I have a
good forty odd years of training in the arts. The partnership was formed
to build a collection by…

To see the entire interview click here.

Join the Gallery Talks: Facebook page!

Previous Gallery Interviews:

1. Gallery
Talk: Riflemaker Gallery

2. Gallery
Talk: Thomas Dane Gallery

3. Gallery Talk: Mummery +Schnelle Gallery

4. Gallery Talk: Hannah Barry Gallery

5. Gallery Talk: Mauger Modern Art Gallery

4. Gallery Talks: Mauger Modern Art gallery

Gallery Talks: Posted on Oct 07, 2010 05:57AM

Gallery talks: Art Interview with Michael

Ever since I started writing these gallery conversations, I’ve been
keeping a little list with potential galleries I come across that could
make an interesting chat. Top of the list for a while has been Mauger
Modern Art.

The interview turned out to be one of the most
pleasant conversations about art that I ever had. The gallery owner is
Richard Mauger. A very approachable, enthusiastic and down to earth
person that is well connected with the artists and the artwork that he

Were you ever an artist?

I’ve made work in the past but I found it too stressful!

…more then being a gallery owner?

[laughs] I think it was actually, yeah. It doesn’t feel like it right now, because I have two galleries running at the moment, art fairs to prepare for and a house to sell! and an apartment to buy! So I do feel a bit stressed at the moment, but, essentially, I do remember feeling very stressed as an artist. It was a kind of stress I didn’t like.

I picked up the title of the gallery “…Modern Art”. If you could go back in time to when you were deciding what to name your gallery – would you have still called it Mauger “Modern Art”?

Good question. After about a year of the opening I looked at the work that I was selling and thought that maybe it should have been called “Mauger Contemporary”. But then I looked up the definitive definition of ‘modern’ and it still fits. I know ‘modern’ can be used in a classical sense but it can also mean ‘of its time’.

Yes the word ‘modern’ can be interpreted very differently. It can be the Impressionists, it can be Picasso and it can be the works produced today.

Very true. Also the word ‘contemporaries’ is a bit long, and I don’t think it sounds as good as ‘Modern’. Perhaps we’ll end up just calling the gallery ‘Mauger’. Which is an option.

In your opinion, and with the experience you have from the kind of art you trade, is there a difference between Pop Art and Kitsch Art?

I don’t like the word kitsch. It sounds ‘throw away’. Which in fact if it’s used to describe certain artwork, maybe it’s correct. But Pop Art is by far the preferable term. It’s short for Popular isn’t it?

Yes, and current. I looked up the dictionary term for kitsch. It reads “art, objects, or design considered to be poor in taste because of excessive garishness [Richard laughs] or sentimentality, BUT sometimes appreciated in an ironic or knowing way”

True, that’s true. But I’d rather if people appreciated art for its own sake and not for the irony contained in it.

Taking up on that, there are a number of works that you represent that contain pre-existing imagery. Such as brands, the iconic smiley face and I also see superman in one of the works. There must be something that makes you interested in the irony in that. What makes irony clever? Can it be elitist?

I think my interest is in altering these things and altering people’s reactions to an already established image. If it can do that, people find themselves waking up slightly to what they normally would walk past and think they understand with one glance. Some of the pieces are intended to make people think a little bit more. This may start to sound a bit grim but none of the work here [at the gallery] are dark. I always like to see an element or a hint of humour, but this is not always possible.

Lets talk art fairs – Do you enjoy participating in art fairs, or is it something that you dread doing, and only do it not to be left out?

I hate being left out! [laughs] especially in art fairs – good art fairs that is. Well, do I like them? I hate them and I love them.

What do you hate about them? What do you love about them?

I hate standing for hours, I hate being at the edge of exhaustion and still having to smile. And if a fair isn’t selling as much as we like… I’d rather go home!

…but do you feel that it would be better if art fairs didn’t exist, and art buyers visited galleries whenever they wanted to see and buy art?

I think they are essential. It’s like having a large supermarket with a lot of corner stores inside it. It makes sense as a collector that’s interested at a particular gallery to see the gallery at a fair, where there’s another hundred other galleries. If you’re looking to find a piece of work, why not go where there’s a hundred galleries at the same time – it makes total sense.

Do you think that art fairs increase interest in art in the community?

The sheer strong armed hard-hitting PR power of the big fairs can’t but help increase awareness of art. So that’s a good thing. But when the fair disappears, then what you’re left with is the galleries. And if the galleries aren’t showing stimulating, risky and quality work, I don’t think that would be very helpful to the art and the art community. But we live in London, and in London there are weekly, even daily, exhibitions. Some commercially orientated others just doing it for the hell of it. And they all go hand in hand. Galleries need art fairs and art fairs need galleries. What I love about art fairs is the ability to meet collectors that I wouldn’t meet normally, and meet other galleries’ collectors – which is what everybody loves – and hates!

What’s the next art fair you’ll be participating in?

Our next showing is in a fair in Korea called KIAF. That would be the first time we do a fair in Asia.

Have you curated the booth yet?

I’ve chosen four artists and I may sneak another seven artists in the back – in the naughty cupboard! We’re having 2 stuffed cow heads by Géza Szöllősi. I recommend checking out his website – unbelievable work! He’s in his thirties. We’ll be taking Manolo Chretien’s nose cones and some paintings by Erik Sandberg, he’s from LA.

Final question. As a gallery director, how is you relationship with your artists? Many say that it can be awkward – a kind of friends, but not friends. A kind of relationship you would have with your drug dealer!

[laughs] It may have been a little like that when I started the gallery, but more and more I seem to be working with friends, artists who became friends. Or if not friends, it’s people who I get along with very well. Before I really understood the dynamics between artist and gallerist, I remember seeing an interview at Frieze on YouTube, someone was interviewing a gallerist and asked him “who are you showing?” waiting for some big names, and the gallerist told him “I’m just showing my friends.” And I really liked that. I’m glad to say that it seems it’s something that I’m naturally gravitating to.


81 Rochester Row, London SW1P 1LJ

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Michael Xuereb

Join the Gallery Talks: Facebook page!

Previous Gallery Interviews:
1. Gallery
Talk: Riflemaker Gallery

2. Gallery
Talk: Thomas Dane Gallery

3. Gallery Talk: Mummery +Schnelle Gallery

4. Gallery Talk: Hannah Barry Gallery

“Gallery Talks:” can now be read on

Gallery Talks: Posted on Aug 16, 2010 09:58PM

I have been a contributing freelance writer for MANIC Magazine for over a year now. In my regular article, titled ‘Gallery Talks: Art Interview’,
I interview different gallery owners/directors from London for each
issue, and ask them questions on a number of subjects related to their
gallery, the relationship with their artists and the art market.

I am very pleased to announce that my ‘Gallery Talks:’ will now reach a wider audience. ‘Gallery Talks: Art Interview’ will now be regularly featured on

Contemporary Art Tours in London
is run by Victoria Chaine Mendzyk. She graduated from the Royal College
of Art (London) with an MA in Curating Contemporary Art, From
Goldsmiths College (University of London) with a BA in Fine Art and
History of Art and from Paris X (France) with a BA in Philosophy.

CATIL offers guided tours through museums, exhibitions and galleries.

Chaine Mendzyk is passionate about contemporary art and education and
has worked in various international contemporary art museums and
galleries. In the past two years, she co-curated Of this Tale I cannot guarantee a single word at the Royal College of Art in April 2008 and was the sole curator for Turning Points at Norwich Outpost in May 2009.

I hope all my readers from MANIC Magazine, FAD online and CATIL are enjoying my
conversations with the people I’m interviewing! Feel free to suggest
anything you would like me to ask or any gallery in particular you would
want me to meet.


Join the “Gallery Talks:” Facebook Group |

“Gallery Talks:” can now be read regularly on

Gallery Talks: Posted on Jun 09, 2010 01:55PM

I have been a contributing freelance writer for MANIC Magazine for almost a year now. In my regular article, titled ‘Gallery Talks: Art Interview’, I interview different gallery owners/directors from London for each issue, and ask them questions on a number of subjects related to their gallery, the relationship with their artists and the art market.

I am very pleased to say that my ‘Gallery Talks:’ will now reach a wider audience. ‘Gallery Talks: Art Interview’ will now be regularly featured on

FAD is a London based art website covering contemporary art news,
street art, video, design, etc. They cover new openings, art fairs from
around the world and have extensive interviews with artists themselves.
As well as news from the London scene, the team at FAD covers Berlin,
Paris, New York and
even the Asian market.

I hope all my readers from MANIC Magazine and FAD are enjoying my little conversations with the people I’m interviewing! Feel free to suggest anything you would like me to ask or any gallery in particular you would want me to meet.


Join the “Gallery Talks:” Facebook Group |

4. Gallery Talks: Hannah Barry Gallery

Gallery Talks: Posted on Jun 06, 2010 01:22AM

Gallery talks with Michael

I’d like to start talking about Hannah Barry Gallery by talking about another gallery: ‘All Visual Arts’. AVA is a high end, uber-slick, glitz and glamourous arts enterprise with a polished approach to everything they do. Now Hannah Barry Gallery is the antithesis of AVA. Some contrasts: AVA show their artists at One Marylebone; HBG show theirs in a converted warehouse in Peckham. AVA is the offspring of one of the biggest hedge fund CEOs; our HBG is the offspring of a bunch of college pals. At worlds apart, the thing that HBG is capable of perfectly emulating is the only thing that really matters: good art.

I met the HBG team not too far from the gallery. They were organising their next exhibition, while giggling about each other’s middle name. Hannah Barry, Ross Chalmers, Joseph Balfour, Jamie Byrom, George Howard – all sitting around a table with enough laptop power to launch a spaceship.

Most questions were answered by Hannah Barry – the distinct ringmaster.

What made you open a gallery? What is the gallery fulfilling for you?
The gallery is here to do a very simple thing: to look after new international artists and to make the very best exhibitions of their work. The gallery is very focused on solo presentations, in-depth solo exhibitions because we believe that that’s the best way to show new art.

Is there anything else – something you did not have and now you do have since you’re running a gallery?
A lot of hassle! Joking aside, the fact that we are most often working with young artists, while being young ourselves, creates a partnership of understanding. Working with your contemporaries, which become friends, makes us all work on the same level, which is a good thing.

Is there any difference for you between a good work of art by a young, un-established artist and a good work of art by an established, maybe dead, artist?
There are A-grade works, B-grade works, C-grade works, and so on. An A-grade work, in the context of what it is is always a great work. It’s just about what the ‘thing’ is. At the same time, if I’m looking at a Picasso, I’m looking at it in a different way. There is a different context, because there is a lot of history and comparison to be made, but most of the time you have to look at the ‘thing’ itself and question yourself what is the quality of that ‘thing’, not what is the quality of that person. These are two completely different things. Also different things are important at different times. What’s important to us may not be important in 25 years, while things that are not important to us now may be more important to some in 25 years. For example Jasper Jones is important in different ways, depending who you are and how you look at him, where you come from, what you do, what you think about painting, how you think about America and so on. The great thing about art is that it can involve everyone because it’s so diverse, and you always find out surprising things about yourself when you look carefully.

How do you meet your artists? How do you come across new work/artists? Do you visit a lot of degree shows?

We don’t spend that much time looking at degree shows. We’re not really thinking about ‘artist-post-degree’. We’re just thinking about having a gallery that works for the artists in it. We share with each other artists that stand out for us. We say ‘Hey you should really have a look at this artist’s work.’ Sometimes the artists that we work with say ‘Hey, just seen these paintings. Hannah, you should go have a look at them.’ Then we go and have a look at them. It’s really an organic process. You never know where the next good work is going to come from.

How much risk do you take when you come to decide what sort of art to represent?
How much risk do you think it takes to open a gallery with no backing, no money, with artists who have no reputation and begin in a world which is dangerous? That’s how much risk it takes. Art is always risky. Any kind of activity that involves supporting someone else is risky.

Yes, but is there a sort of criteria, maybe a subconscious criteria for when it comes to judging to choose the work you represent?
There is no criteria. It is about great works and whether you can do something for the artists. There are things you can do, things you can’t do, things you can learn how to do, things you can make yourself do. But there are things that will always avail you. One of the most difficult things is to learn to surrender to what you cannot do. Because there are things you just can never do and that other people will always be better then you and the best thing to do is to go and admire that person for doing what they do so well.

If your question is ‘Are we commercial?’, well, we are commercial because we have no financial backing and we have to make it all work, but there is no commercial judgment. The point is, we just have to make great exhibitions. We try to show people the importance of the things we show, and if we succeed in doing this, then it will be a success. We can’t say: ‘This is high risk art – so we won’t show it.’ There are a lot of galleries who do fantastically well showing what’s considered high-risk art, such as installation work.

The following day I went to the exhibition venue – to The Hannah Barry Gallery itself, to take the photos you see here. Luckily for me, there was Sven Muender who gave me an impromptu guided tour like no other.

The gallery is situated in a patchy area where you wouldn’t expect a gallery to be. Neighbors include a scaffolding warehouse and a car-wash. On the other hand, if one looks at the bigger picture, it is in a location where it should be: placed ideally between Camberwell College and Goldsmiths College, with many art students crossing its paths.

The current exhibition, titled: New Work, New York consists of work of four painters from New York. Matteo Callegari, Wyatt Kahn, Erik Lindman and Anton Zolotov. As Sven explained to me, one can say it is a result of an investigation into the transatlantic exchange of abstract painting. They are all current work showcasing a variety of approaches on abstraction.

The show came to a close on 27 May, but not to worry, because on June 4th there’ll be a new one called Together Afar. The gallery is really worth visiting if you’re in London. Ask for Sven.

And speaking of exhibitions opening on June 4th (!) – I’ll have some of my own work at the RELOCATION show at the BOV head office in Malta. Would love to see you there!


Hannah Barry Gallery, Warehouse 9i, 133 Copeland Road London SE15 3SN

* * *

Michael Xuereb

* * *

Join the Gallery Talks: Facebook page!

Previous Gallery Interviews:
1. Gallery
Talk: Riflemaker Gallery

2. Gallery
Talk: Thomas Dane Gallery

3. Gallery Talk: Mummery +Schnelle Gallery

3. Gallery Talks: Mummery + Schnelle

Gallery Talks: Posted on Feb 17, 2010 05:27AM

01 / Feb / 10

Gallery talks with Michael Xuereb

Wolfram Schnelle, co-director of Mummery + Schnelle Gallery. Our meeting was at 1pm and I’m happy to say I was there on the dot! Don’t you just love it when you arrive exactly on time for something? It makes you avoid certain awkward situations such as, if you’re early, walking around the block like a lost tourist, or if late, you’d have to introduce yourself with a “sorry I’m late”, or the more formal “apologies for being late”, which is as good as meeting your in-laws with your pants down.

Mummery + Schnelle Gallery is in prime location – a five minute walk away from Oxford Street station, which means they are either robbing a bank every other week, or they are successful enough to afford the inconceivable rent cost I’m sure they have. Its run by a director duo: Andrew Mummery and Wolfram Schnelle, I met Wolfram.

Tell us a little about yourself and the gallery.
We opened the gallery in September 2007. Andrew Mummery has had a gallery for ten years before we opened this one together and has developed the career of probably half the artists we represent now. I met Andrew when I was doing an internship with him. It’s a good match because he is from an art-history background and I am from a business background. Before coming here, I worked in marketing for a company that produces baby diapers. But I knew I wanted to work in Art, that’s where my passion was. So I came to London to do a Contemporary Art History course at Sotheby’s and then during that time me and Andrew started working together to start this gallery.

What are the benefits of being a co-director / what are the drawbacks of being a co-director?
To be honest I can only tell you advantages because in our case, having had a gallery, Andrew brings in contacts and very good artists. It would have been impossible to open a gallery and start from scratch at this time. When you have a co-director with you, there’s always a conversation with whatever happens, with discussions and confrontations which are always very constructive. I’m pleased I have a co-director and not running it on my own.

Why Contemporary Art? Why not antiques, modern art or Impressionists work?
I am very interested in the old masters, Velázquez is one of my favorite, but there’s something in contemporary art that really fascinates me and interests me in terms of working in the field. What drew me to it is working with the artists, working with somebody that is alive, that you can have a direct relationship with, someone you can see develop. I like the here-and-now of it that forces you to get thinking yourself. If I deal with old masters I would be dealing with the people that represent their work. These artists are part of the art historical canon already, while in contemporary art you don’t have that, therefore we are forced to make our own judgment, which is what fascinates me.

What is it that goes through your mind just before an exhibition opening?
Ohh! That’s interesting. It depends how you define it. Well the preparation starts six months before. Are you saying one hour before the opening?
Yes, let’s say one hour – after six months of planning, just before the people start coming in – what are you thinking?
When its all installed and all ready… Its a lot of wondering how the show will be received and hoping on practical things. You hope that the collectors you want to talk to don’t all arrive at the same time and you hope that you will have enough time to talk to all the people you are expecting. And you always want a good buzz at the opening, you don’t want just three people to be standing around.
Are you subconsciously thinking about the reputation of the gallery or potential sales?
You hope clients announce themselves, for sure. You want this to be a successful show financially for the gallery and for the artist. Ideally you want good reviews from art critics. Whenever we have an opening there’s always this slight anxiety and anticipation of what might happen and what might not happen. Its always rewarding when you have sales happening during an opening or before an opening.

Every year, art colleges and universities are pumping out hundreds of students who think that since they have a degree in Art they are now artists – ready to exhibit. These are usually between 21 and 25. I’m mentioning this because from looking at the list of artists from your website, the average age is 47. Is there any reason why you choose to represent work from older contemporary artists?
Yes and no. This is partly because Andrew had his gallery for ten years before this one and a lot of the artists we represent are around his age so when he started he was looking at his peers. Its all tied together because when we were looking for a new space, the career of the artists represented by Andrew had reached a certain point that it made more sense for them to be located in the West End rather then the East End. This is because they were, in a way, established. And when we add artists, we keep this in mind. Not necessarily that we only choose artists of the same field, but its something we have in the back of our heads. At the same time, I go to many degree shows and we have started working with artists coming directly out of Art schools. For example, the next show we will have a project by Mariana Mauricio who finished art school last year.

Do you have any comments regarding the high volume of students studying art which many of them want to become established artists.
I think it often takes time before an artist finds their own voice. Which is something necessary and needs time to develop. I think it can be very dangerous for an artist to be picked up too early.
What makes this dangerous?
I think the danger is that you start repeating yourself, and start doing what has been successful because of market pressure, which can push you in one direction instead of being free.

* * *

Wolfram Schnelle has to be one of the youngest gallery directors I ever met. He genuinely showed he was happy to have his position, instead of the more common gallery-director attitude that pretend they’re doing just some other job.

Our little conversation was terribly pleasant. When I got back home and listened over the recording I realised that for some reason we were speaking very softly. If I had to guess I’d say it was our subliminal reverence to the artworks that were around us in the gallery. The current exhibition at Mummery + Schnelle consists of technically inspiring, bitter sweet photography by Ori Gersht. Website to view.

Mummery + Schnelle, 83, Great Titchfield Street, London W1W 6RH

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Previous Gallery Interviews:
1. Gallery Talk: Riflemaker Gallery
2. Gallery Talk: Thomas Dane Gallery

2. Gallery Talks: Thomas Dane Gallery

Gallery Talks: Posted on Oct 11, 2009 01:07PM

11 / Oct / 09

Gallery talks with Michael Xuereb

The gallery we visit this time is Thomas Dane Gallery, situated on a side street off Piccadilly, opposite The Royal Academy of Arts. My stop was Piccadilly station and as I made my way towards the gallery, I passed a recurring freaky-feeling sight that stops me in my track every time I see it. There between the bustling Piccadilly road junction and The Royal Academy, of all the things in the world, lies a large Maltese flag, hung from the facade of the Maltese embassy. It’s a feeling that every Maltese who sees it feels and you have to be Maltese to understand.

Anyway, less about the Maltese flag; more about Thomas Dane Gallery. The gallery is on the first floor. It was my first visit. Thomas Dane Gallery represents works of some top artists, Turner prize nominees and winners, most importantly Steve McQueen who is the 2009 British representative at the Venice Biennale. (I know him as the director of my favourite on-screen dialogue of all time – it’s a scene from the movie Hunger 2008.) Thomas Dane Gallery also represent works of Albert Oehlen – if you think painting is dead; look at Oehlen’s work – amazing stuff.

As soon as I got there, there were welcoming smiles all around – you would think this would be expected, but from a posh art gallery – you wouldn’t know. The interview was arranged with Martine d’Anglejan-Chatillon, but she insisted we bring into the conversation her fellow director Francois Chantala.

What are your roles in the gallery?

Thomas Dane is the managing director and we are both directors. We are all co-founders of Thomas Dane Gallery. Before the gallery, Thomas Dane was an arts consultant*. We opened the gallery in 2004.
* an arts consultant provides advises for people who want to buy and invest in art.

So are you happy here?

We look happy, don’t we?

The original idea for these interviews were to be with artists, but I thought that maybe we are tired of listening to melodramatic artists talk about their work. So I came up with the idea that it could be interesting to talk to people that deal art in the same approach. Tell me one thing that gallery directors do, that goes unnoticed.
We can be melodramatic as well! [jokingly]
We have to know Art and its market very well. We have to understand the people related to our line of work. Caring for our artists is very important. Trading Art is far more complex then simply buying art and then selling it. It’s more personal.

Other then selling art, what makes a gallery successful?
Selling artworks is not the only thing we do, as I [Martine] said it’s something more personal. Working with our artists in a respectful way keeps the gallery healthy. We know each other on a personal level. We have to understand our artists, we build on trust to strengthen our relationship, and that is essential if we want the gallery and artist to work together. Many of the artists we represent are well-known artists and we have a responsibility to take good care of their name and their work.
[Francois] think that selling art is a small part of our job. It is very important for us to keep a good contact with museums, the press, other galleries and our clients. We constantly work on keeping and improving our relationships. The success of a gallery is all about its relationships.

What makes the business of dealing art different from businesses that sell other things? Such as cars, kitchen appliances..
Behind every artwork there is a person – its artist. We are selling more then just things, we sell parts of the artists’ personalities. This makes our business fragile. Yes, it’s far more then just things. Also, most of the time, the things we are dealing are original things. The fact that there’s only one of them in the entire world makes what we do much more special, and interesting. Dealing with art is a very unique business.

The unavoidable subject – the recession. Do you see any worry If prices start coming down; people start buying again and eventually buy more than before, due to the lower prices?
We don’t think it’s a bad thing. However it has to happen very gradually, because it would be very easy to loose our trust and reputation with our clients if we decide that something they bought a year ago is now worth thousands of pounds less. It wouldn’t make our artists feel good either, if we say their work has dropped thousands of pounds in value.
However, I think it will happen, and I am not afraid. The straightforward explanation to why it has to happen is simply the nature of supply and demand.
The recession brought along a difficult time, not just for the art market, but for everyone.

Tell us something about the current exhibition.
We shouldn’t take merit for the current exhibition because this exhibition was curated by Leigh Robb. It’s a group exhibition, we like having group shows for the summer period. It’s called Double Object. This is the second showing of this exhibition. It was originally organised at an artist run space a year ago. Artists were invited to respond to the concept of ‘the double object’. We added some other artists’ work for the exhibition here. When we plan our exhibitions our aim is to have an iconic exhibition that leaves a legacy behind it. We want people who visit us to remember our exhibitions. Sometimes we are successful other times we are less successful. But that is our aim.

We did our little interview in their office. The Thomas Dane Gallery’s office looks like a place where things get done. As we went through my questions, the pair seemed comfortable listening to one another and naturally cueing each other to speak from across the room.

The exhibition areas are white walled with high ceilings. Having been there for the first time during a group exhibition, the Thomas Dane Gallery gave me the impression of a miniature museum.

The fundamental manifestation of the exhibition is how various artists interpret the theme: ‘DOUBLE’. One and one, certainly make two – but two can mean so much. For the artists of the Double Object exhibition, this can signify opposition (Bob Law’s ‘Open Drawing’, ‘Closed Drawing’); signify identicality (Roni Horn’s ‘Pair Object VI’); reflection (Philomene Pireki’s ‘Disillusion’); symmetry (Dieter Roth’s ‘Dogs’); or as an amount (Felix Gonzalez-Torres’s ‘Untitled’). If you want to know what I’m talking about I suggest you google them and see for yourself.

To read the exhibition’s press release and view past Thomas Dane Gallery exhibitions, visit

Thomas Dane Gallery, First Floor, 11 Duke Street, St James’s London SW1Y 6BN.

Words by: Michael Xuereb

To be notified when the next Gallery Interview is out, be sure to subscribe to this blog.

1. Gallery Talks: Riflemaker

Gallery Talks: Posted on Aug 08, 2009 02:05AM

15 / May / 09

Gallery talks with Michael Xuereb

you’re going up Regent Street, detour into Beak Street, pass Carnaby
Street and you’ll hit one of the most exciting location in London. Here
art is in the air, you can feel it sweeping from side to side in the
narrow streets of the area. Look for door number 79 and you’ve just
arrived at Riflemaker, one of the many fresh art galleries in this part
of town.

Riflemaker has been putting up shows since 2004. Recently I had a chat with one of its directors, Tot Taylor.

MX Riflemaker. How did the name come about?

TT It’s
just above the door. It’s the oldest commercial building in the West
End. It was a gun-maker’s workshop. You can see from outside, it says
‘Gun maker – Riflemaker’. We didn’t want to put our names on the
gallery, so it’s not like, for example Victoria Miro Gallery. The idea
was that we worked with what we found. We saw ‘Riflemaker’ above the
door and we left it there. Everyone told us that it’s a terrible name,
it has nothing to do with art, it reminds me of guns… It doesn’t
matter. It doesn’t matter if a name reminds you of guns, going to the
loo or being in prison. Eventually it will become known as a place.

MX Tell
us a bit about yourself, and your role in the Gallery. Maybe you would
like to share with us something that a gallery owner does, that goes
unnoticed or unseen.

TT We run the
gallery. There’s two of us. Nearly everything you do when you run a
gallery is unseen. It’s the nature of the business. People who own
galleries are very busy and stressed with a lot of work, and nobody
really realises, I suppose.

MX You organise talks and gatherings; what happens during these events? And where do they take place?
Every Monday, at the gallery. We do performances, we have music, we
show films. Quite a lot of poetry. We’ve done one off performances.
Yoko Ono gave a Bagism performance. Andrey Bartenev had an evening
where everybody had to wear masking-tape across their mouth for four
hours; it was about censorship. Last Monday we had Catalina Niculescu’s
performance. She collaborated with musicians to create a cut up score
of Wagner’s Siegfried. The gallery has been open for five years and
we’ve done about 400 events.

MX Before you became a gallery owner/director, did you ever think of becoming an artist yourself?
TT I am a composer, music composer. I worked with films in Hollywood film companies. I’ve done all that sort of thing.

MX How many artists do you represent? And how many of them have come to you, and how many did you find yourself?
We represent about 18 artists. We don’t really have artists coming to
us, and we don’t really find artists. The shows and exhibitions come
together organically. I want to mention something: One of the most
important thing is the format of the gallery, which is different from
other galleries, it’s totally unique. A gallery format is that you go
into a white walled space and they’re all identical, all the same. The
reason you have a white walled space is that the art doesn’t have
anything to mix with, doesn’t

have anything to fight
with. Basically you’re trying to make the space as bland and neutral as
possible. We think that this is absolutely ridiculous, because life
isn’t like that. And it’s false and old fashioned. So when we moved
into there we decided not to paint the walls white. We decided to leave
the horrible aspects of the room. It’s a room from 300 years ago, with
lots of dust and bullet holes. We didn’t want to start another white
gallery. Something else different from most galleries is that usually
shows last for four weeks. Ours last for twelve weeks. The idea was to
build up the interest in the artist and make that cumulative, so that
the artist can benefit. It is a space for artists, it’s completely
artist orientated. It’s not a business space, it’s not a commercial
space. Sometimes we have a lot of work that isn’t for sale, because we
want to promote the work, rather then necessarily sell the work.

MX So how do you pay the bills, when things aren’t for sale?
TT We have very good clients, who have supported the gallery and bought from each show.

The current recession: something we can’t avoid not talking about. Are
you working at a loss, and waiting for the recession to end or are you
still making a profit?

TT I never wait for
anything, so I’m not waiting for the recession to end. We haven’t
really taken notice of the recession. I think it might be a government
plot. There’s a lot of strange things happening with the government in
England at the moment. As you know there’s huge scandals. They’ve been
taking money for their expenses. They’ve been buying petrol for cars
that don’t exist, renting out their homes for people who don’t exist.
That tells you a lot about England. So I don’t think there is a
MX So people are still buying…
Oh people are buying, we’ve got a sold out show upstairs, four of the
big works downstairs are sold. The golden painting downstairs, that was
two million pounds. You know last night at Christie’s in New York.. Did
you read the paper?
MX Yes. A Hockney painting was sold for over 5 million pounds.
TT Yes, but not just that. It was a phenomenal sale. They sold 78% of the lots. [Auction held: May 2009]

MX Maybe this can be a one word answer question: Why are gallery owners generally rich, while artists generally poor?
TT Because they are stupid. That’s what I think.

had our conversation in a tasteful little snack bar around the corner
from Riflemaker. Around here, every other shop is either a gallery or a
cafe’. Throughout the chat it was easy to notice the sense of community
in the area. Tot was frequently saluting people who passed us by. On
our way back to the gallery, I asked him where would he want his photo
to be taken, but he explained that he prefers not to have his photo
taken for such press, because there’s no need for promoting himself. He
told me how the gallery should only promote the artists. Which, I have
to say, makes sense.

As I was leaving, Tot made sure I visited
all three floors of the gallery. As I did. The ground floor has a cozy
setting, and just as Tot had said, there were no white walls in sight.
From the outside one could see a piece by Kara Walker and inside there
were works by Peter Blake, Gary Hume, Julie Verhoeven and Francesca
Lowe. These were all works on wool tapestry, as part of ‘Banners of
Persuasion’, which is a commissioning group for artists who work on
textile. The piece by Gary Hume struck me the most. I had never seen it
before. It had three female faces, in his typical outline depictions,
with floral patters in a variation of deep greens. As I was standing in
front of the art piece, I could sense that something wasn’t right, but
it wasn’t the image. I felt as if I wanted to cancel everything else
around it to view it on its own, maybe even, dare I say, on a white
wall. The ambiance’s strong character throughout the ground floor made
it hard for me to distinguish my thoughts from one work to the other. I
felt I couldn’t see the artworks individually. It was as if they were
just details, engulfed in the building’s defined personality.
Apparently even the gallery’s web-site is not your typical, minimal,
black-text-on-white-background interface, like that of other galleries.

going up to the second floor I could sense a drastic improvement in the
atmosphere, because the interior’s colour cooled down and the space was
more lit. In the room there were frames with embroidery on old
photographs and three sculptures, that looked like towers. The largest
two were the size of a person and made out of hair, yes hair. As I
looked around for the artist’s name, I had only one name in mind,
‘Rapunzel’. But they’re not by Rapunzel. These are by the Italian
artist Maurizio Anzeri, whose work is truly a delight to see. I suggest
you look him up as soon as you finish reading this.

On my visit,
the underground floor had an array of video projections and a
slide-projector, all whizzing away, showing videos and stills of the
artist Catalina Niculescu. The space is a dimly lit, low ceiling,
expression space. For a moment I closed my eyes and brought to mind the
crowded performances and music sessions Tot had mentioned. I’m sure
this is were they happen. You can still feel the art infused thrills
reverberating in the room from previous gatherings.

Tot Taylor
clearly has a good eye for up-and-coming artists. On this basis alone,
the success of the gallery is well deserved. The artists represented by
Riflemaker are well curated, and looking at previous exhibitions, this
seems to be standard. Artists of Riflemaker should be proud to be in
Tot’s hands, and even though, when it comes to financial decisions, he
calls them ‘stupid’, I’m sure the admiration is reciprocated.

Riflemaker, 79 Beak Street, London W1F 9SU.

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