Curating For An Art Fair: Hard Work Behind The Smiles

Walking around Berliner Liste, three floors of art is something to be amazed at. There is a huge mixture of forms and displays which seem to merge seamlessly into one experience. However, behind the effortless facade is hard work and a hell of a lot of thought. Art fairs present some of the most exciting but challenging times for gallerists and curators. We talked with some of the people behind the galleries exhibiting at Berliner Liste to find out what goes into curating a booth for Berlin Art Week and what trends are pulling in the punters.

Torsten Obrist Of Galerie Obrist, Essen

APs: How did you choose which paintings to bring?

Torsten ObristIt was just the first bunch I got. I wanted to have all themes which he (David Lynch) has in his lithographs. There are the nude women, the dream pictures, there is of course one of the Guru for his transcendental meditation, of which he is a fan.

APs: What attracts you to a piece of art?

TOI have been a fan of David Lynch for at least 20 years and I got to know him through his movies. In the beginning he was a painter and photographer and after that he made films. Now that he’s getting older, he is turning back to paintings and photography.

APs: Have you sold anything?

TOIt’s only just begun, so not yet, but at least a few were interested. I don’t see anybody selling and I haven’t seen any red dots.

Alena Kurmasheva of ARTCURATOR.ru, Moscow

APs: How did you choose which artists to bring with you to the fair?

Alena KurmashevaFirst of all we see our list and then we see how [the artists] develop their artworks for this year and then we try to combine how their different connections. Artworks from Ilya Kukushkin have a slight connection with the works of Marcus Scheunemann due to the color, but they use different styles and they solve different problems using the same color. It was interesting for us to show how they can interact with each other.

Gallerist Alena Kurmasheva at Berliner Liste Art Fair. Photo: Chris Phillips

APs: Have you noticed any trends in what is selling?

AKArtworks which use Oil and Plexiglas. I think it’s something new when artists don’t use ordinary canvases but try to use the more hi-tech materials with their own techniques.

APs: Which is your most popular artist?

AKI think Kukushkin, as we have a very good collector for him based here in Berlin.

APs: Are there many collectors in Berlin?

AKYes. Maybe it is not the most expensive city but the people are real fans of contemporary art. That’s why it’s a pleasure to come here and see that it really attracts their attention and they understand contemporary art.

Artwork by Marcus Scheunemann from ARTCURATOR.ru Gallery. Photo: Chris Phillips

APs: Is it the same in Moscow?

AKIn Moscow it is very hard to find the real collectors. Most people just do it because it’s fashionable to be involved in contemporary art and to say you have been to certain exhibitions.

Talking with these gallerists, one remembers that the art market can be tough— but who doesn’t love a challenge?

Article by Frances Cragg