At Paris’ Slick Art Fair in October, CH discovered the work of several young galleries that reflect the ever-evolving nature of the industry. Beyond the traditional role of representing artists, their more proactive approach leads them to investigate and discover talents, help emerging movements rise and even produce their own artwork. Bringing back a dose of curiosity and pioneering spirit in the market, a new generation of galleries is appearing—and rocking the boat. We selected four—all French-related—that dig into foreign cultures and specialize in a particular region in the world.
Emerge is a Paris gallery whose mission is to promote artists dealing with issues arising from developing countries and troubled regions—mostly from South East Asia and the Middle East. The gallery has also launched a new publishing service, dedicated to printing limited edition works by four to six peer-selected artists each year, which is crowd-funded through KissKissBankBank. Photographs by British Muslim feminist Sarah Maple illustrate with humor the approach of the gallery and its artists—questioning themes surrounding identity; like gender issues, sexuality and religion. Pakistani artist Noor Ali Chagani chooses miniature clay bricks as his medium to make thoughtful pieces—such as brick-paved mirrors—about the image prohibition politics in his country. Emerge also promotes Saudi Arabian artists, such as Ahmed Mater, who mixes influences from Islamic culture and his medical profession into his striking works.
Another Parisian gallery, Paris-Beijing was founded in 2006 and specializes in Chinese contemporary art and surrounding Asian countries. One work is particularly noteworthy and is poetic, enigmatic and quite fascinating. It appears to be a woman trying to swim or move around in an aquarium; her slow motions push parts of her body against the windows so that the viewer can see them for a moment—before they slip and disappear again. This installation is by a 60-year-old Korean master of video, Unzi Kim who, as a professor, remained unknown and never thought of himself as a “real” artist; keeping his personal works a secret. That is, until the Paris-Beijing sleuths found the video among other treasures of footage, installations and experiments.
Uprising is an initiative focused on promoting Caribbean contemporary art. Created in 2011, Uprising represents Caribbean artists at international art fairs (where they organize workshops and lectures) and also started an online gallery store, a digital news magazine and a portal showcasing more than 260 artists. Cuban Mabel Poblet—the youngest of the represented artists—decorticates biological and psychological dimensions of human beings. Her work with artificial blood and its red color—which is intrinsically linked with Communism in Cuba, but is also entirely universal—is particularly stunning as it is metaphorical, as seen in “Ana,” a portrait of a woman suffering from leukemia.
Even more forward-thinking, Island6 (aka Liu Dao) is an art collective based in Shanghai started by French artist and curator Thomas Charvériat that truly pushes boundaries. The gallery is also a studio and doesn’t just exhibit, but also produces art. All the work is collectively made by a group of tech-heads and creative talents from all over the world, but all driven by innovation and interaction. The purpose of the collective is to explore and invent new curatorial models and progressive projects. While all the artworks are Asia-centric, they mix traditional and contemporary techniques with images and footage from animated movies or manga.
Photos of Mabel Poblet and Unzi Kim artwork by Isabelle Doal, all other images courtesy of respective galleries