For many of us in the United States (minus those in Miami), we are easing back into our routines post-Thanksgiving and looking forward to our winter holiday plans.
9,500 miles away, Singapore’s Artesan Gallery + Studio is abuzz with preparations for its upcoming exhibitions at Art Fair Philippines (February 16-19) and the 2017 Venice Biennial (May 13-November 26).
ArtBinder was fortunate enough to snag an interview with Artesan’s director, Roberta Dans, to discuss collaborations, exhibitions, and extending artwork beyond the gallery’s walls.
AB: Hi Roberta, thanks for chatting with us. To begin the interview, could you provide some background information about Artesan Gallery + Studio?
RD: Absolutely. Specializing in Contemporary Pan-Asian Art, Artesan was originally set up in 2005, to spawn an artistic environment where creative talent could exchange, network, share, inspire, immerse, and motivate each other in a stimulating setting.
Artesan’s pioneer projects started with a few talent who were invited as resident artists at Watten Estate, Singapore. With a very simple and modest start, Artesan’s success and reputation has had an exponential and phenomenal growth since.
Whilst our present focal point has stayed true, its present course has matured towards a pro-artist and progressive approach. By acting as curatorial counsel and advisor to talent, we encourage, inspire, and motivate artists to exercise boundless freedom in their artistry and creativity.
Through sensitive guidance, Artesan hopes to steer fledgling careers through a jumble of experience and education, with the eventual goal mapped towards independence and management of their own successful careers.
AB: Collaboration is a major theme of your gallery. You’ve worked on projects with a range of artists and art institutions. Why is collaboration so important to you?
RD: Collaboration is key, as it is part of the exercise to spawn scattered pods of artistic projects that inspire a mélange of ideas from different types of partners. While the final result, say of an exhibition, is important – the actual meeting of minds and ideas is even more interesting!
Collaborations actually stretch and exercise the muscles of our creativity and imagination, advocating many, many possibilities that would have never been considered before.
AB: What’s been your favorite collaborative project to work on so far?
RD: My favorite projects are projects with academic institutions. Not only because of their educational approach, but because their motivations are pure and devoid of commercial intent. Therefore, artists are shown in stark honesty and presented in a scholarly manner, without the presence of an economic agenda.
Ronald Ventura, Downside Up, 2010, oil on canvas, 154 x 122 cm. Courtesy of Artesan Gallery + Studio and Ronald Ventura.
AB: It seems that Artesan Gallery + Studio has continually pushed the boundaries when it comes to space and movement. You founded the Art-on-Tour roaming gallery. In 2012, you opened a second gallery in the Raffles Hotel Arcade, and in 2014, you introduced your floating gallery concept. Can you speak more about this floating gallery concept and how you interpret space?
RD: After presenting over 80 exhibitions at gallery spaces provided by Artesan, we firmly believe that galleries limit themselves and their artists when they present them in a fixed space.
The permanent space, the “canvas”, so to speak has a very limited configuration. If artists are instead presented with projects with a limitless array of challenges for possible settings, we believe they will thrive, evolve, and experiment.
So aside from pop up exhibitions, art fairs, public spaces, and institutional collaborations with other galleries and various organizations, Artesan believes that it is the role of the gallerist to constantly present artists such options and opportunities – arousing ideas that would have otherwise remained dormant.
The ‘floating gallery’ is a progressive concept that also discharges gallerists from the daily management of a space. And to be honest, it is very very liberating! The freedom allows us more time to be more proactive in our projects, as well as focusing on mapping the artist’s career path.
AB: This idea of challenging the limits presented by a fixed space sounds like it overlaps with ArtBinder’s promotion of art in a digital space. How does Artesan Gallery + Studio use ArtBinder?
RD: ArtBinder carries the gallery’s portfolio. It plays a very important role for us as the software/app is designed to give us instant access to our stock inventory details. It has a brilliant mechanism that is efficient and quick in distributing both general and specific information to all clients, and potential buyers.
AB: We’re so glad, and we’re excited to share that ArtBinder will be upgrading its inventory management platform with the release of ArtBinder Index this winter! So, what is the next exhibition we can expect from Artesan Gallery + Studio?
RD: Artesan has been invited to present some amazing exhibitions during the upcoming Venice Biennale 2017. I cannot tell you more at this point, but we are over the moon, totally awed and exhilarated at the prospect of the amazing opportunity to be present and participate in one of the world’s oldest biennales.
It will be mind boggling as each artist will be doing a major solo presentation – and each one will certainly be pushed to their creative limits. We promise everyone will be blown away!
Artesan is also participating in the Philippine Art Fair in February 2017. However small in relative terms, I think it is a brilliant art fair that thumps with brilliant energy, a Filipino fiesta of sorts – attracting all kinds of people from all walks of life, from all corners of the country, coming all together for their honest love of art. It’s amazing!
It is also slowly bringing in people from all over the world. The Philippines is an energetic center for visual arts, because of its unique economic and social character. This time round, we are doing a solo presentation by artist Iggy Rodriguez, who does fabulous pen and ink works on acrylic.
Do watch this page!
End of interview
Also stay tuned for ArtBinder Index – coming this winter!
Header Image: Iggy Rodriguez, March of the Sycophants. Courtesy of Artesan Gallery + Studio and Iggy Rodriguez.