Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Gallery Space Talk: Martita Slewe- Slewe Gallery

I recently interviewed Martita Slewe. Martita is the owner and director of Slewe Gallery in Amsterdam. I observed Slewe's space during the Collector and Press Preview at SCOPE in New York. The Slewe Gallery is known for exhibiting and representing talented abstract painters.

Kerkstraat 105-A
NL-1017 GD Amsterdam

Contact Information:
Tel: 31.20.6257214
Fax: 31.20.4214606


Q. You are the owner of Slewe Gallery. When was the gallery established? What is the mission of your gallery?

A. "The gallery was established in October 1994 and since its start the program is focusing on new tendencies in abstract art, mainly painting."

Q. Why did you decide to become a gallery director? Are you an artist yourself? How did you get involved with the arts?

A. "I am not trained as an artist, but I studied art history. My parents gave me the love for the arts . They collected art and still do a bit.

Since my study I have contact with artists. After my study I worked as a curator at the at that time newly established Kunsthal in Rotterdam for some years (1989-1994).

At the Kunsthal period I learned a lot in practising making art exhibitions under the leadership of the director. So in 1994 I decided to run an exhibition space of my own. Moreover in 1993 some established galleries were closing in Amsterdam (due to the economic recession) and some artists I had contact with, did not have any good representation anymore and they liked to work with me.

I took over an exhibition space in the centre of Amsterdam and renovated it with the assistance of architect Herman Postma. Since its start the graphic design has been done by Irma Boom, at that time a very promising and now very established graphic designer.

Now and then we publish a small catalogue along with an exhibition. Two years ago the website of the gallery has been launched, designed by Niels Schrader (assistant of Irma Boom)."

Q. It often seems that many artists are not aware of the business side of art that a gallery tends to handle. Can you tell us more about your job and the function of your gallery?

A. "A gallery functions not only as a selling point, but also as an exhibition model. Both in a business sense as well as in essence, the space acts as an intermediary between art and the public. The aim is to further promote the artists's work and to channel it to the appropriate collectors and museums. A gallery is also a platform for discourse and a meeting place for artists and its visitors.

The day-to-day work of a gallery owner is to organise and promote exhibitions. the driving force behind this is the inspiring contact with art. From art you learn how to look at things around you in a different manner. This is why it is no ordinary job : it is a way of living."

Q. Who are you currently representing?

A. "I work with some Dutch artists like Steven Aalders, Merina Beekman, Paul Drissen, Joris Geurts, Robbert-Jan Gijzen, Krijn de Koning, Kees Smits, Jan Roeland and some foreign artists, European artists based in UK, like Ian Davenport, Peter Davis, Callum Innes, Zebedee Jones , Alan Johnston and Adam Colton, in Germany (Martina Klein, Ingo Meller, Martin Gerwers, Alice Schorbach), Belgium (Marthe Wéry) and artiststs living in the US, like Dan Walsh and Jerry Zeniuk (also working in Munich, Germany) . Most of them are of my generation (*1961) , some are a bit older and some are younger like Robbert-Jan Gijzen (*1974), Geeske Bijker (*1974), Peter Davis (*1972), Zebedee Jones (*1970)

Q. Do you have any upcoming exhibits?

A. "At the moment I am changing exhibtions. There was a painting show by Joris Geurts (until April 7). Next Saturday (April 14) there will be a new exhibition opening by German artist Ingo Meller (paintings). On average 7 solo exhibitions are mounted yearly, with each artist imposing his or her own stamp on the gallery space every time."

Q. Your gallery represented several artists at Pulse New York (2007). Did the exhibit go well for your artists?

A. "At Pulse I had a very small booth and I showed some work of 2 Dutch artists, Steven Aalders (*1959) and Krijn de Koning (*1963). Aalders showed a series of 4 small abstract paintings, called 'Cardinal Points', and Krijn de Koning made especially for this occasion an installational sculpture, that could be used as furniture (table/chair, he entitled it). Both artists are working in the (post) modernist abstract tradition and refer clearly to the Dutch 'De Stijl' movement.

For me the Pulse art fair had good results. The presentation had a good response. Although the artists were not very well known in the US, and abstract art is still quite difficult to understand for most people, it was a very clear presentation and reconizable for the public . I met some very interesting collectors form New York and some from other cities in the US . I sold some work and made some good contacts for possible exhibitions for these two artists. Also for some other artistst I represent but I did not show work of, I made good promotion."

Q. What can you tell our readers about the artists you represent?

A. "A reflective attitude towards art and attention to the sensual aspect of the material appears to be a connecting factor among the gallery artists. Due to this essental aspect, the emphasis is on traditional media, especially painting. "

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about Slewe Gallery or the 'art world'?

A. "Abstract art is still not very easy to promote. It is still quiet difficult for most people to understand. So it is not very trendy and I think it will never be very hot. But some people who are more familiar with this visual language do love this kind of art very much and most of them stay that way for the rest of their life. "
I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Martita Slewe of the Slewe Gallery. Visit the Slewe Gallery site if you wish to learn more about the Slewe Gallery and the artists that the gallery represents:
Take care, Stay true,
Brian Sherwin

No comments: