IT’S A EMOTIONAL EXPLORATION OF THE ART WORLD: WHICH ARE THE MOST FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS WHEN IT COMES TO ART? ARTISTS, CURATORS, GALLERISTS, MUSEUM DIRECTORS, ART COLLECTORS AND MORE GIVE THOUGHTFUL AND DEEPLY PERSONAL ANSWERS TO OUR QUERIES, WHILE SHEDDING LIGHT ON THE CONTEMPORARY ART SCENE – AND OFFERING A GLIMPSE INTO ITS FUTURE.
WHEN CAN YOU SAY YOU’RE A COLLECTOR?
Ashkan Baghestani: When you have enough works that together create a story, a visual landscape, a bridge between periods and countries, a theme that is completed.
Basel Dalloul: I suppose when you’ve made a habit out of collecting. This applies to art and anything really, even shells from the beach.
Deborah Najar: Tough question! Maybe when you have filled your home to the brim, and you continue to acquire works, because of an innate impulse, a compulsion to do so.
Hormoz Hematian: When the act of collecting or acquisition of the artworks has a particular direction. One could be in the beginning of the process with five artworks, but be a collector and another could have hundreds of works and not be considered a collector. Sometimes the collector is aware of it and sometimes it is the subconscious that is the governor of the collector’s attraction to particular works of art.
Michael Jeha: The answer is subjective, but for me two key principles would need to be satisfied: first, to have a deep passion and interest in the collecting field in question, irrespective of what the category might be (for example, you could be a collector of stamps or coins). The second is a frequency/regularity of purchase, such that a minimum number of works would need to be acquired in that category. Being a collector is not determined by monetary value.
Nayla Tamraz: There’s different kind of collectors, and different sizes of collections, and different nature of collections. It also depends whether it’s a private or a public collection. Anyway, this is something hard to quantify. I think that a collection is defined by its consistency regarding the choices that it postulates and the narrative that it aims to implement and show. Consequently, you’re a collector when you’re somebody who invests a lot of time and money serving this narrative. Being a collector is a practice, and like any practice, it’s activated by passion. That’s why, I think, a collector is not a speculator. Having the money to build a collection is necessary of course, but is not enough.
Omar Kholeif: When you buy or collect things with a passion!
Till Fellrath and Sam Bardaouil: When you have purchased your second work of art.
Ashkan Baghestani, Sotheby’s Head of Sale and Contemporary Arab and Iranian Art Specialist
Ashkan Baghestani joined Sotheby’s Middle East Department in 2012 focusing on the Contemporary Doha auctions and developing this increasingly important art platform, including the April 2013 Contemporary Art Doha sale which realised $15.2 million and established the highest price for an auction in the Middle East region, with records set for nine artists, including the record price for a living Arab artist, Chant Avedissian. His in-depth knowledge of the market for Modern and Contemporary Middle Eastern and Iranian works, his fluency in Persian, French and English, and his contacts in the region have been invaluable in cultivating this important collecting field at Sotheby’s. He constantly travels across the Middle East region, participating in Sotheby’s numerous travelling exhibitions across the region such as Jeddah Art Week, Saudi Arabia and Dubai Art Week Travelling Exhibition, UAE.
Mr. Baghestani grew up in Geneva, Switzerland and has travelled extensively to study and work in Paris, New York and London. Before joining Sotheby’s in the summer of 2012, he studied Design and Management at Parson’s, the New School for Design, in the United States in 2009, earning a BBA Degree and followed later with a diploma in Middle Eastern Art from Sotheby’s Institute in 2011. He actively worked for the Jameel Prize at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Basel Dalloul Founded the Dalloul Art Foundation in 2017 to manage and promote his father’s (Dr. Ramzi Dalloul) vast collection of modern and contemporary Arab art. At over 4000 pieces it is the largest collection of it’s kind in private hands. The collection includes but is not limited to paintings, photography, sculpture, video and mixed media art. Basel has had a passion for art since he was very young, inspired by both his mother and father, both of whom are also passionate about art in all its forms.
Deborah Najar is the Co-Founder of the JPNF (Jean- Paul Najar Foundation), a museum for Contemporary Art located in Dubai. Among the first non-profits in the UAE, the JPNF came about as a partnership with Alserkal Avenue, from a desire to oer a diverse artistic experience, with strong emphasis on patronage, artist-collector archives and western abstraction. Nearly three years later, the JPNF team have welcomed over 30,000 visitors, curated nine shows, published catalogues and hosted rich public programs for all audiences, often in partnership with local and international institutions.
From 2011-2015, Deborah was the Middle East Representative for Bonhams, structuring two auctions a year as well as managing a diverse client portfolio across departments and reporting directly into the Group CEO. From 2005 to 2011 she oversaw the development of De Beers Diamond Jewellers in the Middle East as founding director and was later promoted to GM. She sits on the board of the Gstaad New Year’s Music Festival, the Global Fine Arts Awards and heads up the Global Private Museum Network, which regroups the stakeholders of some of the world’s largest private museums. She arrived in Dubai in 2004, is a graduate of the London School of Economics and speaks four languages.
Hormoz Hematian founded Dastan’s Basement in 2012 to showcase emerging and experimental Iranian art then followed with Dastan+2, dedicated to established artists and Dastan:Outside, a program of curated pop-up exhibitions throughout town. Together, the three initiatives cover the full spectrum of Iranian contemporary and modern art practices. In addition to an extensive local program of shows, pop-ups and eclectic collaborations, the Dastan group of galleries can be regularly sighted at established international venues such as Frieze New York, Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Dubai and Contemporary Istanbul.
Michael Jeha is the Managing Director and Deputy Chairman Christie’s Middle East
In his role as Managing Director of Christie’s Middle East, Michael is responsible for implementing and executing the firm’s strategic and commercial vision for the region. Christie’s was the first international auction house to open an office in Dubai in 2005 and began holding bi-annual sales the following year.
Under his management, Dubai has become a regular and important selling centre on the international auction calendar with the two annual auctions of Modern and Contemporary Arab, Iranian and Turkish Art, achieving sales of over $250 million.
Michael Jeha joined Christie’s in January 1999, exactly 20 years ago. Originally Lebanese, Michael was born in London and studied at the City University Business School.
Nayla Tamraz is a Lebanese writer, curator, researcher and professor of Literature and Art History at Saint Joseph University of Beirut where she has also been, from 2008 to 2017, the Chair of the French Literature Department and where she created, in 2010, the MA program in Art Criticism and Curatorial Studies that she currently heads. She also organized several events including the symposium ′Littérature, Art et Monde Contemporain: Récits, Histoire, Mémoire′ (2014, USJ, Beirut). In parallel, she leads a career as an art critic and a curator. In this context, she co-curated the exhibition ′Le Secret′ (Espace Ygreg, Les bons voisins, 2017) in Paris and curated the exhibition ′Poetics, Politics, Places′ that took place in the Museum of Fine Arts of Tucumán in Argentina, in the frame of the International Biennale of Contemporary Art of South America (BienalSur, 2017). Her research is about the issues related to the comparative theory and aesthetics of literature and art in their historical context, which brings her to the topics of history, memory and narratives in literature and art in post-war Lebanon. Her current research explores the relationship between poetics and politics as well as the representations associated to the notion of territory.
Omar Kholeif is an Egyptian-born, British writer and curator. He is co-curator of Leaving the Echo Chamber, the 14th Sharjah Biennial and Time, Forward! The V-A-C Foundation Pavilion at the 58th Venice Biennale. He is also a Guest Curator for Abu Dhabi Art and the Manchester International Festival, as well as a Visiting Tutor at the Ruskin School of Art, University of Oxford. Kholeif has held curatorial positions including, Manilow Senior Curator and Director of Global Initiatives at MCA Chicago; Curator at Whitechapel Gallery, London; Senior Curator at Cornerhouse and HOME, Manchester; Curator at FACT, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool; Founding Artistic Director of the UK’s Arab Film Festival and Senior Editor at Ibraaz Publishing. He has curated or co-curated major international projects including the Cyprus Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale; FOCUS: Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean at the Armory Show, New York; and the 2012 Liverpool Biennial. The author and or editor of over twenty books and catalogues on art, Kholeif’s recent books include Goodbye, World! Looking at Art in the Digital Age (Sternberg Press) and The Artists Who Will Change the World (Thames and Hudson, both 2018).
Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath
Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath are Founders of the multidisciplinary curatorial platform Art Reoriented in Munich and New York, Chairmen of the Montblanc Cultural Foundation in Hamburg, and Affiliate Curators at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin. Bardaouil and Fellrath have jointly curated numerous critically acclaimed exhibitions at renowned museums and institutions worldwide, and have held teaching positions at universities including the London School of Economics and New York University. They are award-winning authors with contributions to academic journals, books, newspapers and art magazines. They are currently preparing their international thematic exhibition Walking through Walls opening in September 2019 at the Martin-Gropius Bau in Berlin. For the upcoming 58th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia they are curators of the National Pavilion of the United Arab Emirates.
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