Friday, July 13, 2007
Come The Revolution
When I first aspired to being an artist, I wanted to be represented by the biggest and best galleries in the world. I thought that having the approval and support of a big time, internationally recognised space was integral to 'making it'. In a scrap book, I kept articles on the very small number of Australian galleries that I considered – in a very business-like, pragmatic way – to be necessary 'stepping stones', as well as the larger number of American and English ones. The two that most interested me were the hyper-successful, former wild man, Larry Gagosian's eponymous Gagosian Gallery, home to some of the biggest names in American contemporary art, and Jay Jopling's gallery, White Cube, which has stage-managed the careers of most of the so-called Brit' Art stars. I used to think both were less staid and different in their approaches to representing artists – clearly, I was as susceptible as everyone else to the art business's 21st century image-invention and hype.I saw that big name galleries corralled significant collectors and nurtured relationships with major institutions. I thought I needed them to reach both and to buffer me from the harsh, mercantile realities of today's art world. Idealistically, as an artist, I felt I should focus only on making art. Now I realise that one of the few real pleasures of being an artist is having contact with collectors of my work - after all, they connect enough with something coming from deep within me to want to buy it. I also realise that having my work in state art institutions is something that just happens, sort of – sometimes I don't even know about it until a collector writes to tell me they have lent a piece for a show or sold a work to be part of a collection.I have had a few opportunities to show at some of the galleries on my old list but they just don't hold any appeal for me. I would rather set up my own exhibitions, albeit, sometimes, in collaboration with an established gallery, and handle my own marketing, communications, and sales. In the much same way that Gagosian and Jopling were revolutionary gallerists of their respective times, the artist as a truly self-organising, self-promoting, self-sufficient independent, adept in new media and unshackled from the old gallery and institutional systems, is the revolutionary of today.