With the series Vienna Art Spaces, PW-Magazine offers some insights into the dynamic landscape of contemporary art spaces in Vienna.
What drove you to open Vin Vin back in 2016?
The decision to open the gallery has been more of a need, namely the structuring of an intense activity in the field of contemporary visual art which had begun already some years before. In 2011, I started a research which brought me to do many studio visits with young artists, visiting art fairs, and gradually doing some dealership. After a while the decision to open a physical space became quite natural, obvious I would say.
What’s your background?
Musical, I am trained as an orchestral conductor and I came to Vienna in order to study orchestral conducting and theory of interpretation at the University of Music and Performing Arts, where I graduated with a debut concert at Musikverein with the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. I conducted a piece by Lily Boulanger (1893-1918), an amazing French composer and sister of Nadia Boulanger.
Why Vienna? Can you see your gallery (and yourself) working in another city?
I chose Vienna because I wanted to study at the above mentioned university, one of the best for orchestral conducting; furthermore, there are not so many cities in Europe with such an intense and stimulating cultural activity. Yes, I can for sure see a second city for the gallery, more as a branch than as a main venue though.
Could you please talk about your relationship to the artists you represent? What’s important to you regarding this?
Dialogue! Even if it might lead into intense discussions sometimes, there is no development and serious creation of content without dialogue. You need to love artists and if you don‘t, there is a problem.
What’s your take on art fairs?
They seem to be still quite essential, but let‘s see how it will evolve in the near future. I do not dislike art fairs, as long as a sustainable strategy is planned. They can be a dangerous tool if used blindly and very useful if used properly. It needs patience and time.
In what do you see responsibilities of gallerists in times of political and societal change?
I would like to paraphrase the Italian curator and critic Achille Bonito Oliva: »Art can be the healing massage to the atrophied muscle of a part of collective sensibility.« We have a huge responsibility in many directions; in a certain way we are masseurs.
What has been the most important lesson for you to learn during the last years?
I learned that a gallery is not only your gallery, there is a community around it; and I am learning to listen.
How has the market environment changed since you first started Vin Vin?
Actually not too much. The situation was critical in 2016 and it still is today. But there is energy, time and hope.
What’s your approach regarding the curation of your shows?
In my case, I think it is more appropriate to talk about the organization of exhibitions instead of proper curation. I try to set the gallery as a platform for the artists, a stage where through a constructive dialogue they are enabled to conceive and release the best result. And of course the dialogue is different from artist to artist. The gallery is at their disposal!
Any future plans you’d like to discuss/to share?
Well, first I would like to mention something about the present, namely the ongoing exhibition, Renée Levi / Dino Zrnec (on view until the 24th of November) which has been received extremely well. Very recently, few days ago, Renée Levi has been awarded with the 2019 edition of the ‘Prize of Society of Arts of Geneva’. The prize was previously, among others, awarded to Sylvie Fleury and is biannually given out. The rewards include a solo exhibition at Salle Crosnier in Geneva as well as a publication and financial support for the artist. Furthermore, on 7 November, we hosted a conversation between the two artists and Peter Pakesch at the gallery. The talk helped to deeper understand the similarities and differences between the approaches of Renée and Dino, two extraordinary artists.
A plan for the very close future is the reactivation of Bartensteingasse, the space in which Vin Vin operated from the very beginning until last May, when I moved to a bigger space within a collaboration with Francis Ruyter. Actually the activity there at Bartensteingasse was never really interrupted, the last exhibition has been with Eva Barto in September. Additionally, after Art Verona, where we participated with an historical body of works by the American artist Lisa Beck, we are planning to be part of an art fair again soon.