Interview for Art Times September 2015
1: How did you become
passionate about antiques, art and design?
Oddly enough, my career as a marine engineer (in
the early 80’s) first piqued my interest in art and design. My travels through
Europe and the Mediterranean fostered a great love for aesthetics and my
passion was further sparked when I discovered the potential for a contemporary
art market here in South Africa. The art scene was at its most nascent and I
opened the first contemporary gallery in the city center – what came to be a dominant
driving force in the development of the South African contemporary art world. I
began exploring artists I liked, hitting on the emerging talents of then
little-known figures and working alongside them as their careers evolved. This
evolution - ever-present in the art scene - is what has sustained my passion.
2: What excites you most
about this industry?
The continuous change whether evinced in the
enhancement of a particular collection, the development in an artist’s career,
or the wavering enthusiasms for a particular style or medium.
Another interesting (and exciting) challenge I have
found over the years is the almost contradictory nature of curating - both for
galleries and private collections. The curatorial process is for me, the
creation of a framework within which things can happen freely: a structure
allowing for free-flowing movement.
3: How have you witnessed
this industry develop over the years?
An art market once centered around three small
galleries in Cape Town where deals were brokered over Saturday morning coffees,
has developed into a thriving industry abuzz with new artists, new galleries, and
new dialogue. In the past, the driving force of the art world was a handful of
power-centric cities - New York, London - but it is now far more diverse. The
most powerful change is electronic information – the ability to show images
anywhere, almost instantly.
4: How does the antiques,
art and design industry in South Africa currently compare with overseas
By international standards, we are still a fledgling
market. But it is just this, which makes the South African art industry so very
exciting. The emerging, yet-to-mature aspect welcomes the newcomer and creates
an accessible market with enormous room for growth.
5: Do you have any
investment / buying tips for our readers?
Look, look, look. An enquiring mind is one of the
greatest aids when deciding on an artwork. Constant exposure (through
galleries, museums, art fairs) is vital to a refined aesthetic sensibility –
and this is vital to any worthwhile acquisition.
Don’t be afraid to question. The art scene is
notoriously intimidating, but equipping yourself with knowledge is essential.
works by established artists may seem a sensible choice. I however, am much
more excited by new techniques and unfamiliar styles.