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Interview with Anthony Wilkinson

Interview with Anthony Wilkinson

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Art Guide East, 28 May 2015
Ruxanda Renita

Wilkinson Gallery, London @ Frieze New York

Established in 1998 by Antony and Amanda Wilkinson , Wilkinson Gallery is known as the first London gallery to exhibit solo shows of key women artists. It is also known as one of the first galleries to promote Romanian artists. In 2009, Muresan’s works were exhibited in Wilkinson’s Track Changes group exhibition, while in 2010 – the gallery was already exhibiting a solo show of Muresan. At Frieze New York 2015, Wilkinson Gallery selected Muresan’s drawings for its booth amongst others. Find out more about Anthony Wilkinson’s views on Eastern European art, globalization, and art fairs in the interview below.

Ruxanda Renita: You took a number of Eastern European artists under your wing: Muresan, Parkin, Maciejowski. Was it a conscious decision or was it more of a play of your hand?

Anthony Wilkinson: It was not a conscious decision to go and find Eastern European artists but much more organic where one thing led to another. But I found it incredibly interesting visiting Cluj, Leipzig, Krakow. Warsaw etc.

RR: This year you selected Jonas, Simmons and Muresan for Wilkinson Gallery’s booth at Frieze Art Fair New York. What criterion/criteria did you base your choices on?

Anthony Wilkinson: This year we wanted to show three of our New York based artists who’ve had museum shows with three European artists that we have recently shown; Ciprean Muresan (we wanted more people to see his wonderful new drawings), Derek Jarman and George Shaw who has a large solo show with us next month and has just started as Artist in Residence at National Gallery, London. All the artists in some way have a performative element to their work.

RR: You represent a diverse portfolio of artists.  How do you select them? Is it the concept that attracts you in an art work or is there more to it than that? How much do you listen to your intuition and how much do you base your decision on market trends and on critics?

AR: Intuition is very important and concept. We don’t base our decisions on market trends.

RR: We live in a global world with a certainly more competitive art market. Are there price differences between Eastern versus Western European art? How about collectors? Is there a big gap in between Eastern European / Western European / American art collecting demand?

AR: The art market is so global now - and prices are available for everyone to research through the internet. Therefore there is a lot of searching/looking going on which no one is aware of (only Google!!!). The western contemporary art market is more developed and bigger but others are catching up fast. We are all only a fingertip away from information these days.

RR: Cluj School put the spotlight on the Romanian art in 2009. There are many in the arts community that consider global market a hungry beast in continuous search for new exciting markets. Once mapped, the beast is moving to the next lucky victim. What is your approach to this idea? How do you see the global market? Do you think the interest in Eastern European art will grow in time?

AR: I visited Cluj quite early on and invited Plan B to do a show in gallery in London. This whole thing of a continual hunger for the next thing is depressing but inevitable in our world I suppose. It has always been there to some extent but now everything is just so much faster. Ultimately I think serious collectors realise this and see through the froth. Therefore a lot of this is more to do with people speculating - which is a fragile business. What goes up very fast normally comes down just as fast.

RR: In your opinion, where is the Eastern European art best received?

AR: Probably Europe and US.

RR: Do you believe there are equal opportunities for all artists regardless of their geographic location? Please give a piece of advice to those who decide on taking the artist path in the global market context.

AR: There are always going to be more opportunities for artists where there are more galleries & institutions. But it is still possible to make things happen without this structure. Where there is a strong group of artists seems one of the most important things – it’s very difficult to be an artist working in isolation.

One thing I found interesting was years ago when I was talking to a Leipzig artist about life behind the iron curtain - he told me he listened every evening  to John Peel (who championed Punk) on the World Service or some pirate station - I was doing exactly the same in the west. So there are always these interesting crossovers going on and now with the internet it’s so global.

RR:  How would you summarize Wilkinson Gallery’s presence at Frieze Art Fair? Was it a successful fair?

AR: The fair was successful for us.

RR: Tell us more about other fairs you attended this year. Which one was the best so far? What are the upcoming fairs you have on schedule for Wilkinson gallery in 2015?

AR: We are doing Frieze London and Artissima.

London is our most exhausting fair because we have to do all the day to day stuff too. No Room Service in London!!! Artissima we are doing because it’s a smaller fair and one gets time to talk with collectors plus it’s the truffle season!

*Featured Image: Wilkinson Gallery's Booth at Frieze New York, Drawing by Ciprian Muresan

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