When is an art gallery not quite an art gallery? When it’s a pop-up gallery. Meet the ladies behind the art world’s only pop-up fine art photography gallery, taking inspiring international images from London to Paris, Singapore to Madrid, because, well ‘being in one place all the time is boring’.
Hélène Schneider and Camilla Zervoglos look like typical fine art dealers; impeccably presented, highly knowledgeable about their subject, in this case limited edition 20th century and contemporary photography, and gliding around a refined showroom on London’s Cork Street in the epicentre of the capital’s art scene. But Camilla and Hélène are proprietors of a gallery with a difference.
Pop Up, Tune In, Drop Out
The Flaere Gallery is a pop-up gallery; a nomadic entity, a concept, which moves around the art world with them. It can be found variously on either side of the Channel, at international art fairs and exhibitions or in unused gallery spaces where they swoop in, put on a show, and within weeks or days are gone again, seeking out the next project.
The idea behind the gallery is to travel from place to place, being inspired and staying current, avoiding stagnation. Native Parisian Hélène leans in and explains conspiratorially in a delectable accent: “We are young and we love travelling so why not? It’s more interesting for the artists this way – they get better representation and we don’t get bored. I’m really excited to show people around this gallery because it’s a new space but I can’t bear to sit in one place all the time!”
Founded in partnership with Londoner and art expert Camilla, whose mother is a gallerist, Hélène came to the idea as a passionate collector. The idea was born, in true British fashion, in the pub “beer in hand” and soon they were on to their first show for which they drew animal footprints in bright yellow paint on the pavements of Notting Hill, cleverly leading curious children and their wallet-wielding parents to photographer Pia Elizondo’s portraits of animals from Mexico City zoo.
What followed were multiple exciting urban photography exhibitions such as Vertigo, Brazilian photographer André Lichtenberg’s shots of high-rise London, whose work recently graced the cover of the Sunday Times Magazine, and You Are Here which explored the concept of those three words and the single red dot that place us on a map, told through the eyes of three very different artists.
“We embrace a wide range of styles – we’re open minded, like all travellers,’ says Hélène and indeed their unorthodox and pioneering approach has lured Mexican, Brazilian, French, Japanese and Italian photographers to name but a few nationalities, onto their books. The latest to be lured is British – Tom Craig, who works alongside A.A. Gill providing the photographic yin to his textual yang and it is this exhibition, The Bigger Picture, which packed them in at their hired space in Cork Street.
Art is a moveable feast
But the benefit of a pop-up gallery is that it can move seamlessly between markets, riding the waves and bucking the trends. So when trade is drying up in Paris they simply concentrate their efforts on London. One Paris art fair was distinctly gloomy Hélène recalls: “It was at the time that Sarkozy said the French economy was in trouble – but if you hopped on the Eurostar it was very different -we did and had a great time at the London Fair. It’s interesting to see the difference between markets and it’s better than being a conventional gallery, just being stuck here all day trying to pay the rent,” she points out, gesturing at the impeccable surroundings.
“In fact we use the current crisis a lot, it gives us the opportunity to take up temporary residence in first-rate locations.” I ask if they like feeding on the carcases of dead galleries and she answers unashamedly in the affirmative. “This gave us the chance to be on Bromton Road, right next to Harrods, how else could you do that when you are nobody?”
These nobodies soon got a reputation as serious somebodies within the specialised field of limited edition photography, not least for being deadly serious about the actual number of editions, which they acknowledge to be the tricky part of photography as fine art.
At this point Hélène shows me a favourite image in the current exhibition, Seal Blood. I don’t see the title, just a stunning image. We look at it together, both, I assume, admiring the serenity and other-worldliness of the print. Then she invites me to read the accompanying text. My perception of the image based on pure aesthetics couldn’t be more different to the feelings of disgust and horror solicited by the context and meaning behind the picture. A.A. Gill’s words blow your preconceptions about the picture right out of that calm grey water. And standing here with Hélène, with them go my preconceptions of a fine art gallery owner.
For more information visit www.flaere.com
To read more about The Bigger Picture, Tom Craig and A.A. Gill’s work, click here.
Win! To be in with a chance of winning a limited edition set of 12 postcards of Tom Craig’s photography from The Bigger Picture with accompanying text by A.A. Gill, simply sign up to the Savoir There Travel Inspirations Newsletter before April 15th 2012. Winners will be contacted by email after the closing date. UK postal addresses only.
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