New Models is an ongoing series that highlights innovative exhibitions that go beyond traditional ways of displaying and selling art on the primary market. From forward-looking collaborative initiatives to new uses for technology, The Concepts You Break proves that there are more paths to success and sustainability as an art dealer than in default settings.
When Tatyana Chenever was working as a sales representative at Gagosian in London, she began to sense that something was wrong. As the ultra-modern category continues to thrive, young artists are becoming increasingly immersed in the market dynamics around their work before they can find rhythm in their practice. Speed was essential for collectors to get the works they were looking for, and for galleries that were eager to comply. Things were moving really fast, especially for the budding young artists. And they felt like they lacked context around their work — a broader sense of what they’re doing,” she said. “It’s kind of lost on them because of the pace of everything right now.”
She indicated that social media has exacerbated this trend; The Instagram first photo layout differentiates certain types of work over others and encourages artists to promote one aspect of their practice. “It’s a very superficial interaction,” she said. “I had to find a way to feed this information to people in a way that would benefit them and benefit the artist,” she said. Cheneviere’s gallery, Pipeline Contemporary, which opens during Frieze in October 2022, hopes to combat these dynamics by slowing down the process of discovery for young artists.
Her solution was to divide her space in Fitzrovia, London, between two artists simultaneously. The first, larger space is for the main artist show; The second, smaller room at the back, is reserved for the artist whose next work will be in the program or “in preparation”, one might say. To date, it has exhibited young artists such as painter Tommy Harrison and multidisciplinary Ghanaian artist Emmanuel Owuni. Each takes turns in the smaller room before opening his gallery in the main space; smallest The work is an opportunity for the artist to show something they would like to draw more attention to, even though it may not be for sale.
“It’s like a trailer,” Chenever said. “Every artist approached it really differently. I think it brings them closer to that relationship with the collector, because the collector really understands what the artist has to say.” While large galleries often have private exhibition rooms or smaller off-site spaces for one-off works, it is rare for an emerging gallery to build space into its program for collectors to get a “peek” of the artist’s practice. Even more rarely, what is shown is directed by the artist and not as a commercial initiative.
These are turbulent times for a new gallery to start, particularly one that drives central London rents, with post-Brexit bureaucracy discouraging collectors from the British capital. And Cheneviere admitted that it takes “a certain recklessness and courage” to leave a huge showroom like Gagosian to become independent. She added, “Most importantly, I never felt like I was letting go of the huge show, it’s still a huge part of my thinking and method.” She found encouragement from colleagues who had gone down a similar path, citing the exhibitions of Alice Black, Sapling, and The Artist Room as inspiration. She also noted that there are more emerging galleries setting up shop in central London, such as Castor and Brooke Benington.
When Cheneviere showed me around the space on Zoom at the end of last year, Pipeline was showing a pencil drawing of a legendary ghoul, pinned atop a mound of soil, by Gabriel Kidd, whose gallery opened in the main space on January 8. He chooses artists whose works are unrelated to each other, but connections always seem to unfold between the artists in the show: Emmanuel Aouni, for example whose interdisciplinary practice was on display in the main space, presented a work on the legend of David and Goliath.
Cheneviere was surprised by the concept’s popularity with collectors, giving them two opportunities to engage in the artist’s practice, in quick succession, in one location. “I think that’s a nice way [collectors] to feel like they have a real understanding of what the artist is doing and go further on this journey with them,” she said, noting that sales have “exceeded expectations,” with interest emanating from a wide range of buyers, including Old Masters aficionados to art advisors. She added that Collectors who may be interested in first-rate artists also collect independent art galleries such as their own. “Customer base, it’s just one market now.”
Most encouragingly, collectors have chosen not to buy work-in-progress — they’re waiting to see what the artist has to offer in the main space before making a move. This expectation, which slows down the engagement, seems to be exactly what Chenever had hoped for. “It means people are curious, and that’s a good thing — they don’t just want to make quick decisions.”
Pipeline does not currently represent artists, although it may do so in the future. Likewise, there are no exhibitions scheduled” at the moment.For logistical reasons, Cheneviere only confirmed this current model for the first six months of its exhibition. In fact, like her artists, she seems to take the time to figure out exactly how it’s going to work for her: “I think when you open up a space, you want that period where you can try a lot of different things, and then make a decision about where you’re going to go.”
However, future projects will adhere to the philosophy of supporting the artist as they develop, to show a broader scope for their practice than a single gallery exhibition could do. “It’s about celebrating the potential in these artists’ work, and the constant evolution that’s taking place in the artist’s practice, especially at that point,” she said.
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