Gallerist

Alkistis

Interview: ALKISTIS TSAMPOURAKI

I first met Alkistis Tsampouraki in 2015, when we both worked at Simon Lee Gallery in London.

We shared a passion for learning, of facing fears, of not taking ourselves too seriously and to having fun, whilst making weird(er) things happen in the world. Alkistis is kind, considerate, loyal, and often hilariously honest. She has a great eye and is committed to supporting artists reaching new audiences internationally.

 

Alkistis Tsampouraki (left) with Anouchka Grose at the opening reception of Enrique Martinez Celaya’s exhibition The Mariner’s Meadow at Blain | Southern, London, May 2019

Alkistis Tsampouraki was born in Athens, Greece and has lived in London for the past 7 years. She completed her MA in History of Art at University College London, specialising in Expressionism, New Objectivity and Dada in Weimar Germany. She is a Video Programme Consultant for OUTERNET London, an arts and culture venue which will be launched in September 2020. From 2018-2019 she was working as an Artist & Museum Liaison at Blain Southern Gallery London/Berlin/New York and from 2015-2018 she was an Artist Liaison at Simon Lee Gallery London/Hong Kong/New York supporting artists internationally in strategising and building their careers. She has worked closely with emerging and established artists, prioritising commissioning and exhibiting new work, including off-site projects and installations, touring exhibitions and publishing catalogues, and editions. From September 2020 she will be Associate Director of Exhibitions & Special Projects at the Breeder Gallery, Athens.

What are you doing, reading, watching or listening to now, that is helping you to stay positive?

I am based in Athens, Greece and although the Covid crisis was more manageable here than in the UK we still had to spend more than two months in quarantine. I did a lot of reading during this time and the things I enjoyed the most was reading about Leonora Carrington’s life and more specifically The Seventh Horse which is a collection of her amazing short stories as well as Alejandro Jodorowsky’s account of Leonora's vital spiritual guidance for his life and work in The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky. I also watched the documentary series Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth which are six one-hour conversations between Joseph Campbell and journalist Bill Moyers. I love Campbell’s work and it fascinates me how in both ancient and contemporary religions and mythologies we still seek answers to the same set of questions.

Toby Ziegler, The Genesis Speech, 2017, Installation view, Freud Museum, London. Courtesy of the artist and Freud Museum, Photo Peter Mallet

What are your core values and drivers that you bring to the gallery? What do you care about?

My role is usually to keep a balance between the artists’ and the gallery’s needs and maintain a trustworthy relationship. Because an artist-gallery relationship is somewhat like a marriage that requires commitment even when things might get dysfunctional, I think what artists appreciate even more than bringing results is honesty, consistency with what you promise and integrity. So these are the most important values I bring to my work.

What do you enjoy the most about working with commercial galleries?

I like being part of a diverse team with a combination of people who are coming from different backgrounds and channels and who when putting their efforts together can achieve a certain goal. A commercial gallery can often also offer the resources needed to materialize projects and ideas. Personally, I have worked on a couple of institutional and public projects that wouldn’t be realised without the support of a commercial gallery. Still, this sometimes might lead to other imbalances but that’s another discussion…

Clare Woods, Rehumanised, 2018, Simon Lee Gallery, Hong Kong, Courtesy of the artist and Simon Lee Gallery, Photo Kitmin Lee

How do you gauge which artists and artworks will be interesting to audiences?

I think that there is no fixed recipe for success here. What makes me take real interest in someones’ work is that one of the ideas behind it is 'zeitgeisty' so to speak and that it somehow captures the present moment.

What kind of support or expertise do you offer or provide artists?

My role is to support an artist in building their career and profile not only through the gallery’s exhibitions and activities but internationally. So depending on each artist’s ambitions, I support them with day to day studio communication, production of artworks, catalogue production and distribution, research, development and implementation of public art projects, with establishing strategic partnerships with national and international institutions, with securing residency programmes, as well as with introducing curators, journalists and collectors to their work. Working closely with artists and having a more personal relationship also means that you often have to navigate through difficulties and challenges with them and offer emotional support.

Ali Banisadr, Foreign Lands, 2019, Installation view, Het Noordbrabants Museum, Den Bosch, The Netherlands,  Courtesy of the artist and Het Noordbrabants Museum, Photo Joep Jacobs

What sales channels do you find work best for your artists?

A lot of galleries are focusing lately on digital platforms for reaching out to new audiences and widening their collectors base and it is true that some of these channels are successful. Especially now with the Covid situation these practices are becoming even more popular. Then art fairs are a major international hub for promoting someone’s work. But from my experience, the most successful route for nurturing lasting relationships with collectors is to cultivate their understanding and engagement with an artist’s practice by building his/her profile steadily and slowly through exhibitions, in conversation events, publications etc.

Can you describe one of your most rewarding relationships with an artist - what factors made it enjoyable?

I feel lucky in that sense, because I had the opportunity to work with amazing artists that were also incredible humans. With some of them I developed a more personal bond where there was a lot of trust and respect. When you really know someone and know their work and you manage to deliver something important to them, it is much more rewarding than just doing your job well. It’s like helping a dear friend and I find this very fulfilling.

What risks have you taken that perhaps did not go so well but you learnt the most from?

A few months ago I decided to leave a promising career in London and move back to Athens. It’s certainly difficult adapting to a new reality, but it’s important to do what feels right for you even when the world disagrees. I wouldn’t say however that this hasn’t gone well so far, but it was definitely a big risk for me and the outcome still remains to be seen.

What would you hope that people experience and learn from seeing one of your exhibitions or events?

The last months I have been developing and researching an exhibition concept. More than the curatorial idea, I am focused on how I want people to engage with what they see. I think that today we are more than ever detached from our intuition when perceiving things around us. When looking at a work of art, in many cases our first reaction is an attempt to analyze or de-contextualise what we see, stripping away its magical power. When this exhibition materialises, I really hope that it will give people permission to have a relationship with art that is of the spirit and not just of the mind, where feeling is privileged over knowing.

Do you have any advice for artists?

To stay real, focused and committed to their practice.

What helpful resources would you recommend to artists?

The answer can vary depending on the stage of someone’ s career. For an artist that is at the beginning of his/her career path, I think it’s helpful to follow the work of writers, curators etc. whose activity is close to their own quest; to be part of group shows with other artists with whom they share the same curiosity; to have a good online presence and in general to be active and out there. Residencies are also always a great way of building a network and opening up to new markets and territories. Although it can be challenging, when someone puts effort and good energy out there, their work will be noticed and gallerists will come after the artist rather than the other way around.

Follow Alkistis @alkistis_tsab @the_breeder_gallery

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Coming Next...

An interview with Christian Viveros-Fauné (Santiago, 1965), gallerist, art fair director, art critic and curator.

KRISTIN-HJELLEGJERDE

Interview: KRISTIN HJELLEGJERDE

My clearest memory of meeting Kristin Hjellegjerde was in Manchester Art Gallery in 2012 at the launch of the Manchester Contemporary Art Fair. I can recall thinking how friendly she was and how her eyes seemed to truly represent her, that they reflected both they way she saw the world and you, and what a sincere, enthusiastic and trustworthy woman she was.

I have been delighted to see her programme and success unfold; her unwavering commitment to artists is reflected in the fact she now has four gallery spaces - two in London, one in Berlin and one in Norway.

 

Photo of Gallerist Kristin Hjellegjerde

Photo by Erica Bergsmeads, make-up Ninni Marklund

Established in 2012, Kristin Hjellegjerde quickly gained recognition as an international gallery dedicated to exhibiting a roster of innovative, international artists, both emerging and established, with strong theoretical and aesthetic bases.

Known for its multicultural curatorial approach, the gallery has, over the past years, fostered close and cooperative relationships with museums and curators worldwide, maintaining a deep devotion to the artists it represents.

Drawing on her own international background, Kristin Hjellegjerde seeks to discover new talents by creating a platform through which they can be exposed to local and international clients. In 2019 she curated Kubatana, a museum exhibition focused on African artists at Vestfossen Kunstlaboratorium, Norway. Her curatorial approach is collaborative, working closely with other curators and collectors, as well as with developers and architects.

In April 2018 the gallery opened its second space in Berlin and a second space was opened in London Bridge. In June 2020, Kristin Hjellegjerde is opening an annual Summer space in the coastal town of Nevlunghavn, Norway.

What are you doing, reading, watching or listening to now that is helping you to stay positive?

I feel so fortunate to have had so much time to read and usually I never watch TV but now we binge watched the whole Peaky Blinder series, which left me with many nights with nightmares… still watched to the end. I have been listening to Hazel English, Ren Harvieu, Nina Nielsen, Lenci and Kurt Elling.

And my favourite lockdown books have been: Bernadine Evaristo Girl, Woman, Other, Olivia Laing Funny Weather, Art in an Emergency; Women Artists, the Linda Nochlin Reader, Edited by Maura Reilly; Tara Westover Educated; Ann Patchett The Dutch House, Delia Owens Where the Crawdads Sing and Elizabeth Gilbert City of Girls.

What are your core values and drivers that you bring to the gallery? What do you care about?

That everything we do today is for the future and for long term goals.

Ephrem Solomon, Earth Series (18), 2019, Woodcut and mixed media, 82 x 82 cm / 32 1/4 x 32 1/4 in

What do you enjoy the most about running a commercial gallery?

Being able to discover great talents and to help the artists reach their goals, to inform them about sales and knowing we made a collector happy on the other end.

How do you discover artists and what makes you finally decide you want to work with an artist?

Through various sources, through other artists, Instagram, articles etc. I usually add the artist to a group show, to first see if we can work well together and that we are going to enjoy each other’s company for the future. If I feel the friendship and can see that the artist is hardworking and continues coming up with great work I will for sure offer a place with us, especially if we also have the right collectors for the artist.

Dawit Abebe, Long Hands 3, 2019, Acrylic and collage on canvas, 70 x 60 cm / 27 1/2 x 23 5/8 in.

How do you gauge which artists and artworks will be interesting to audiences?

I follow my instincts and show only what I feel confident about.

What kind of support or expertise do you offer or provide artists?

I am doing my best at making the artist feel safe to focus solely on their work and remain true to themselves.

Sinta Tantra, Modern Times, 2020, Kristin Hjellegjerde, London Bridge Location, Installation view, Photo by Luca Pfifaretti

What sales channels do you find work best for your artists?

My team and I’s personal friendship with each collector.

Dawit Abebe, Mutual Identity 34, 2020, Mixed Media Drawing on Paper, 100 x 70 cm / 39 3/8 x 27 1/2 in.

Can you describe one of your most rewarding relationships with an artist - what factors made it enjoyable?

I can mention my friendship with Soheila Sokhanvari, I discovered her before I opened the gallery and she was the first I called when I was opening. We have had over eight years of creative friendship and now we will be traveling together to Australia for her inclusion in the Triennial at the National Museum of Victoria in Melbourne, and next year will have a solo show at a London museum, more information to follow. But it’s fantastic to be there for someone through the journey to success.

Soheila Sokhanvari, The Love Addict, 2019, Egg tempera on calf vellum, 27 x 40 cm / 10 5/8 x 15 3/4 in.

What risks have you taken in the gallery that perhaps did not go so well but you learnt the most from?

The first four years I was barely getting by, I started with no collectors and no experience completely naive…! It took me many years to be able to pay myself a salary. So, I worked out of passion, and I can finally see results, it takes an immense amount of determination.

Nengi Omuku, Funke I, 2019, Oil on Sanyan, 91.4 x 61 cm / 36 x 24 in

What new strategies are you trying or considering in the current climate? How will you measure success?

I am opening a gallery in Norway in June, by the sea, it will be with one solo show every year opening with a midsummer night party and last until August. In relation to the current climate we will do less art fairs and focus much more on in-house events, dinners, and stronger bonds with both our artists and collectors. We believe the gallery space will be important again and that it’s the personal friendships that counts.

What would you hope that people experience and learn from seeing one of your exhibitions or events?

By seeing the work in person again I hope people will have gained the patience to take in the artwork for a longer time and feel it. With the art more inspiration and a greater conversation and appreciation.

Gerald Chukwuma, AFTER, 2020, Mixed Media, 185.4 x 170.2 cm / 73 x 67 in.

Do you have any advice for artists? 

Dare to go to that place where you are completely you!

Ephrem Solomon, Earth Series (17 ), 2019, Woodcut and mixed media, 82 x 82 cm / 32 1/4 x 32 1/4 in.

What helpful resources would you recommend to artists?

I am trying to create a family of support and I think that by the friendships they are building between each other they will feel safe and comforted. I recommend the artist to surround themselves with people they can trust.

Follow @KHjellegjerde @kristinhjellegjerdegallery and visit kristinhjellegjerde.com

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Coming Next...

An interview with artist Grant Foster (b.1982, Worthing), a London based artist who completed an MA in Painting at the Royal College of Art in 2012. Foster’s recent selected exhibitions include: I’m Not Being Funny, Lychee One, London, 2019; Trade Gallery, Nottingham, 2018; Ground, Figure, Sky, Tintype Gallery, London, 2017; Popular Insignia, Galleria Acappella, Naples, 2016; Salad Days, Ana Cristea Gallery, New York, 2015; Holy Island, Chandelier Projects, London, 2014; Bloomberg New Contemporaries, Spike Island and ICA, 2013-14. In 2019 he was the Randall Chair at Alfred University New York, 2019; Fellow in Contemporary Art with The British School at Rome, 2019 and a Prize-winner in John Moores 25, 2008.

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Interview: WILL JARVIS

Will Jarvis studied painting at Camberwell College, London, graduating in 2009. He teamed up with fellow art student Harry Beer to establish The Sunday Painter, initially launching as a project space in The Marlborough pub, London in 2008. In 2014 the gallery became commercial and Tom Cole joined as a Director. In 2017 The Sunday Painter moved from its' base in Peckham to a larger permanent space in Vauxhall.

I first met Will around 2009, when I was running my own gallery (Ceri Hand Gallery, Liverpool) and I have been a huge fan of his and The Sunday Painter’s programme ever since.

Will and I manned a booth for our respective galleries at the Manchester Contemporary art fair in 2013. I really loved The Sunday Painter’s presentation (artists Piotr Lakomy, Guy Rusha and Samara Scott) and it was a joy to listen to Will talking with enthusiasm to clients and the public.

He cares deeply about art and the artists he represents. He is admirably, intensely articulate, playful, and sincere, which is an engaging combination and evident in his approach to selling, exhibiting and exchanges with people. This interview took place on 13 May 2020.

Will Jarvis, Photo Peter Lally

What are you doing, reading, watching or listening to now that is helping you to stay positive?

This is a very difficult time and my heart goes out to people affected by this awful disease. At the same time, I feel a sense of relief in relation to Global Warming. One billion animals died as a result of the forest fires in Australia, the direct result of Global Warming, collectively we have done very little to change our habits so in some sense I feel relieved we are now forced to and really hope this can exact some lasting change. So, reading about nature recovering and emerging myself in books about foraging and Taoism is my current vibe.

What are your core values and drivers that you bring to the gallery? What do you care about?

I think one’s values and drives (like most things in life) shift over time, working with artists who I love and respect as human beings not just as artists is very important. Searching for, and collaborating in, the creation of ambitious and imaginative experiences is a still a major drive.

Tyra Tingleff, Will always be the opposite, installation view, 2018, The Sunday Painter

What do you enjoy the most about running a commercial gallery?

I had to come to come to terms with the reality that I actually love the act of selling artwork, I really enjoy the adrenaline that comes with a sale, it’s taken me a long time to be comfortable with that as I’d never seen myself as being materialistic.

How do you discover artists and what makes you finally decide you want to work with an artist?

We look across different platforms, from MA’s and BA’s, various project spaces, other commercial or non-commercial galleries and social media. Ultimately we have to believe in the vision of an artist, our faith in them has to go beyond a singular successful body of work, we also have to like them and feel our efforts are appreciated, that they understand it’s a collaborative effort, that we put in a lot of energy and take a lot of risk in what we do.

How do you gauge which artists and artworks will be interesting to audiences?

I guess over the years we get a feel for who likes what, which tone or taste might work where, or for whom.

Leo Fitzmaurice, Autosuggestions, installation view, 2020, The Sunday Painter

What kind of support or expertise do you offer or provide artists?

Firstly, a beautiful gallery space with a solo show every two to three years, working on their behalf as essentially an agency to promote and help further their careers. Economic support in the form of sales and production money.

All kinds of practical help ranging from consignments for museum shows to feedback about a direction they might be moving their work in.

What sales channels do you find work best for your artists?

Up until very recently this has been an event-based industry, it is also one built on personal relationships, when it’s worked best it is the combination of both that create conditions most conducive to selling.

Nicholas Pope, Sins and Virtues, installation view, 2018, The Sunday Painter

What sales channels do you find work best for your artists?

Up until very recently this has been an event-based industry, it is also one built on personal relationships, when it’s worked best it is the combination of both that create conditions most conducive to selling.

Cynthia Daignault, Amazon.com, 2020, Oil on Linen, 30 × 45 inches

Can you describe one of your most rewarding relationships with an artist - what factors made it enjoyable?

Well all the relationships are rewarding, or we would not be able to maintain them, but it is greatly satisfying to work with an artist in placing work into a major institution. Cynthia Daignault and I worked together on placing her seminal (360 panel) painting Light Atlas into the Crystal Bridges Collection, and more recently with Nicholas Pope in getting a large ceramic font into the V&A collection.

What risks have you taken in the gallery that perhaps did not go so well but you learnt the most from?

Our second ever Frieze Art fair we showed a conceptual artwork that essentially disappeared, it was available to buy but really only as a temporary performance of the work and a certificate. It was an incredible work, but in hindsight not the most business savvy move for a young and impoverished commercial gallery. I certainly don’t regret doing it but have since realised that peoples receptivity to certain works or ideas is relative to an environment or context.

Rob Chavasse, Marsh Lane Diversion, 2016, Diverted shipment of plasterboard, Frieze London, 2016 

What new strategies are you trying or considering in the current climate? How will you measure success?

Ironically, the nature of a gallery with its poor cash flow, heavy expenses and tiny profit margin has meant this brave new world has not been as painful as expected. In terms of measuring success however that might be tough as our sense of satisfaction comes from a more holistic collection of metrics which include Gallery attendance so as, yet the jury is still out.

What would you hope that people experience and learn from seeing one of your exhibitions or events?

I just hope they feel something, even if it's just repulsed or confused.

Emma Hart, Commercial Breakz, 2017, Frieze London

Do you have any advice for artists? 

Get involved in your local art scene, realise the line between DIY and ‘professional’ is incredibly thin and at the end of the day it’s shared passion that holds this strange misshapen thing together, that even makes it a thing.

What helpful resources would you recommend to artists?

See Saw app is a great resource, use it to go to openings, drink, and chat to people, make friends.

Follow @TSPGALLERY and visit www.thesundaypainter.co.uk

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Coming Next...

An interview with curator Helen Nisbet, a curator from Shetland, now based in London. She is Artistic Director for Art Night and curates projects across the UK, including projects and exhibitions with artists Helen Cammock; Mark Leckey; Heather Phillipson; Christine Sun Kim; Keith Piper; Barbara Kruger; Flo Brooks and Zadie Xa. Helen sits on the Acquisitions Committee for the Arts Council Collection and the Advisory Board for Art Quest and a-n.

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