Unedited conversations between artist in a productive critique discovering thesis and processes behind the work.
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RAMOS: Hi Aramis
Thank you for joining me
GUTIERREZ: No problem.
RAMOS: How is Basel going?
GUTIERREZ: Busy. The usual. I'm tired and on the verge of sick, but not sick. I guess I am ok.
What are we going to talk about?
RAMOS: do you have work at a fair?
GUTIERREZ: Not this year.
Noguchi Breton is in Nada and Giovanni Beltran is in Design Miami
RAMOS: ahh I see
when you said you'd be at NADA all day I was wondering why
GUTIERREZ: We are showing three Haitian artists this year at Nada
RAMOS: can you elaborate a little on the experience of being at a fair, from the gallery perspective versus the artist perspective
GUTIERREZ: Well... I have often heard from gallerists that artists don't really have an idea of things actually happen. I can say that as an artist the entire romance of how artwork is treated out in the world is stripped away when you see the actual transaction.
It isn't always pleasant to hear a "collectors" or "curators" uninhibited point of view.
Also, when you learn about what is actually going on in most people's head when they are going to buy something it is usually far less intellectual than most artists would think in regards to their own work.
RAMOS: give me a scenario
some of the common language
GUTIERREZ: I have heard of artwork as being too "scary" or "hard to live with". I know a lot of collectors usually prefer works with bright poppy colors.
It depends, a small percentage of collectors think and feel on a level anywhere near where artists are at. Most of them are ordinary people looking to decorate their homes while making a good investment.
RAMOS: how do they know a good investment from a bad investment?
do they rely on the gallery for this insight?
GUTIERREZ: Its a herd mentality thing. They rely on what their friends buy or what the gallerists tell them that their friends buy. Its a safety in numbers kind of thing.
Very few care about uniqueness or variation.
I see this more as a collections manager than I do as a gallerist.
RAMOS: hmmm sort of like the stock market no? the more people buy the more valuable the stock gets... seems reasonable
GUTIERREZ: Exactly. That might be good for stock but it makes art homogenous and boring.
Many collectors buy artists in the same way that they buy stock or build their portfolio.
RAMOS: are you assuming that the equivalent of the "stock" is the artist or a typology of work?
because if it was the artist then the artist can produce anything and it would be bought... so then the art work can be diverse and innovative
however if the stock is a typology of work then i see your point
GUTIERREZ: They want the same product, the same product line. There is very little room for variation or experimentation when you have to produce 50 of the samish pieces.
RAMOS: do you think the gallery has some kind of power over this?
to suggest a trajectory of change for the buyer... that diversity is a good thing and so on
GUTIERREZ: Of course. A lot of the top tier galleries have built museum like spaces to show their artists in. If you are not contributing to maintain their rent then they will cut you loose.
I believe in this environment you only see meaningful diversification when and if the connoisseur becomes invested and actually develops a relationship with the artists and the work they're collecting.
RAMOS: that is an interesting perspective - would that mean the gallery is no longer needed?
or does it mean that the gallery would have to shift to make sure to create these relationships
GUTIERREZ: It would mean the galleries have to be a little less catering and a little more courageous. They are in part equally guilty of herd mentality.
RAMOS: and in your gallery Versace Versace Versace - do you represent artist in a long-term fashion?
GUTIERREZ: We changed our name to Noguchi Breton. Versace served us with a cease and desist.
RAMOS: ha, that's funny - i didn't realize that was the name of the gallery...
it is hard to keep up
GUTIERREZ: Tell me about it.
Also, since we're an artist run space and stretched to our means financially we don't actually represent any of the artists we work with. We just work with them when they're willing.
RAMOS: so then the only think that is stopping you from representing artist the with the courage, is funding or management that are not artist
GUTIERREZ: And the fact that we are all artists with our own lives too.
We do what we can. I think at the moment that means visibility.
RAMOS: i understand
it's just that is such a great opportunity to disrupt the gallery world a bit
and it seems like you understand the problem and solution quite well
and many artist can benefit
and art as a whole
GUTIERREZ: The gallery system needs constant interruption. It is just so unappetizing when you can see it with some perspective. There are plenty of good gallerists out there that do a real service for their artists, but it is easy to fall back reliably paying your rent and expenses by showing safer work.
RAMOS: how has it been at NADA selling Myrlande Constant's work?
GUTIERREZ: We haven't been able to move it yet, but plenty of curators got to see it. You never know.
I personally think her work is outrageous.
RAMOS: i do to .. i am really enjoying looking through it
being at NADA versus the regular gallery year around... do you see this as a big opportunity or benefit by comparison?
GUTIERREZ: It is important to show her work in a place like Nada.
Contemporary art is incredibly homogeneous and often quite Caucasian in perspective and troupe. I think it is refreshing to see someone alive and working with a completely different outlook on aesthetics and art's purpose.
GUTIERREZ: It is also interesting to be showing religious art at NADA. So much art is not religious these days.
Also, it is great to have access to some of these artists. We are really grateful to the El-Saieh Family for collaborating with us on this.
RAMOS: I would love to have an entire conversation about religion and art
GUTIERREZ: I'm not a religious person. I was raised an atheist. That said, I could never deny that religion and spirituality cannot be a valuable perspective on contemporary aesthetics.
RAMOS: well i get that - i was raised atheist as well - but art is a reflection of the times and it is intriguing to see a decline in religious art through history
but to finish this conversation about Art Basel... I just have one last lingering question.
RAMOS: as a gallery, how do you get into a fair? and how do you choose what fair to get into?
GUTIERREZ: It is important to understand who your peers are. A lot of artists and galleries think of fairs too much as a hierarchy of relevance because of the coolness factor or the sales numbers they're hearing about. I think it is better to think about what kind of people are interested in what you are doing and who you are showing. If you take this approach and apply to fairs you might have a better chance of being accepted. That said, there are a lot of internal politics going on too.