LISTE | Three issues facing galleries presenting young artists, and the fairs that host them

Gustavo Speridião © Sé Galeria
It's a reality that we read everywhere: "the art market is looking strong, but this is mainly linked to sales by big galleries, and young galleries supporting emerging artists have a harder time of it." In Basel, the LISTE fair hosts a number of such galleries. The fair, encouraging solo shows and regeneration, charges between 7,000 and 8,000 Swiss francs to first-time participants, with the fee rising with each participation.


Happening met with Maria Montero, Director of the young Brazilian gallery Sé Galeria.



If the financial aspect is at the heart of the issue, is there a temptation to offer more accessible mediums (painting, sculpture...)?


“To be honest I never think this way. Maybe because I am an artist myself.  If you see the artists I represent or the shows at my gallery you will realize that "easy to sell" (in the sense you mention) is not exactly my thing. In my opinion, good art is easy to sell, regardless of the medium. I do not sell decoration, so I support critical works that deal with urgent issues. My real passion is for the most radical avant-garde artists. I am fully inspired by conceptual and experimental art and I am still at the stage that what is easy to sell for me is what I love and respect. In my personal view, passion is still the best tool. I do not think of accessibility, I think about transformation.


But in a way, in comparison, the works I sell are accessible (price-wise) because the artists I work with have a solid path but are new for the market and price is something that we need to build carefully and has to do with visibility. So that is my mission, to insert the artists in good institutions and to present them internationally.”



Gustavo Speridião © Sé Galeria



What is your opinion about different subsiding models — such as the one proposed by David Zwirner about fairs — with the latter having recently suggested that bigger galleries should pay extra?


“I am still in my first fair outside of Latin America so I would say l need to think more about it to be able to give a proper opinion. We all know how hard it is for a young, small gallery with affordable works to be part of this system but having bigger galleries paying for it is also a bit delicate. For that to happen the market has to be a lot more transparent, which is not really the case. What I would love is to have more support in terms of making it possible to do more ambitious projects outside of my country because we know that shipping and taxes etc are crazy, so, we need to think of logistics instead of concept. It is a shame and a bit frustrating. I am aware that this is related to  issues outside of the art world. In my opinion private collectors should help galleries they support. They should take a responsible position. With no support, we cannot make it.




To be able to participate we need to be incredibly creative, really courageous and really hard workers. And we need to have a crazy type of faith, because if you think too much or if you only think in terms of business you will just give up.




It is really difficult to exist and to reach collectors / institutions, without fairs today. But what would be the best model for you? What are the possible solutions to attract collectors to your spaces, instead of having to participate in many fairs across the world?


“That is a tricky question for me because my gallery is located in the heart of São Paulo in the downtown area, a tough place full of social and political issues. It is a very beautiful place, one of the only historical houses of the city but I have problems because collectors don't go there often. Knowing my position, I do everything I can to make powerful shows; if it is a mission to go there I want people to have a memorable experience. When international curators or collectors go, they are normally truly impressed and that is how I manage to do everything I have so far. But the gallery is like a poetic island so I understand that fairs are necessary. I am not sure if I can think of different models but I like the more curated fairs on a medium scale. Liste has been a fantastic experience but I do not think there are others like that in the world.


For me to have a more inspiring space makes things different, it is like a lot of small shows. I like the idea of project based fairs.”



France-Lise McGurn, Sardine, 2018 © Frutta, Glasgow / Rome



Zsófia Keresztes, My Dearest Enemy, 2018, styrofoam, glass mosaic, grout, glue, 134 × 126 × 60 cm © Gianni Manhattan



Urban Zellweger, Table de Tennis, 2018 © Weiss Falk



LISTE, June 11-17




Henri Robert