BELINDA CHUN – Gallery House
Belinda Chun is the founder of Gallery House. A unique art space devoted to fostering long term relationships between established artists and global partners. At Gallery House they deliberately partner with art dealers to showcase the artists works.
When did you decided that you wanted to work in this world of art?
Art was something that I always initiated to my parents growing up and it was one of the few things that I kept adamantly pursuing and demonstrated dedication towards. Prior to University it was something I tried to set aside and was actually enrolled for 2 years in kinesiology and health sciences as I was considered talented as a long distance runner. I had one foot in the sports and then my true love of the fine arts. It finally came to a crossroad which I suppose everything does in life when I felt I couldn’t ignore the desire to pursue the fine arts to change my major despite new hurdles it created and to have the hope to some day work in this field. This fight between rational and what one loves came up a few more time after leaving university and as many of you know it’s hard finding full time work in the arts never mind living on an arts salary at the beginning.
At this moment you are managing 4 extremely good artists and all with quite different styles and approaches. How does it feel to have such a responsibility for all these careers. What is the most difficult part of it?
Thanks for the kind words, and yes I deliberately choose works too that are different in styles at least consciously for now as I have many mediums of art that I have an appreciation for. And yes, it can be times worrisome but I think this is the case with any job there is a lot of weight at times in trying to seek out new and balance existing ventures and it’s difficult at times to please all parties and come up with fair solutions. That being said I’m really fortunate to have artists, dealers and people I work with all collaborating for the good of everyone as all good turn comes back. At the same time this is also my forte I seem to have even looking back at my past… as far back as in high school where I attended a special arts school that required one to audition for it and take on a regular school credit plus two courses (art history and studio) always an ability to balance out all parties and make the unachievable a reality. This is really gratifying. I now know all things are possible especially with the artists I work they are all dedicated to moving forward and growing on a bigger and higher platform.
If you could just use one word to describe each artist you represent what would it be?
Can you tell us the toughest thing you did to “ensure an artists needs”?
I don’t think in the grand scheme of things anything is too tough to do for the artist if he/she expresses his/her concerns in not wanting to do something. I always know that if we for example pass up on something there is always more opportunities and if the timing is right then things will happen again. What is key is ensuring that the other party we are declining or we are deciding to not do for now is understanding and to take the time to ensure they understand and to truly keep in touch with them. For Gallery House we are however dedicated to the artists needs. So ultimately what we do is for the artist so that can live day to day stress free from the art business and dedicate their time in making works that they envision and to continue to push themselves. Like any relationship in a marriage or true friendship, it’s a give and give relationship. We’re dedicated to working collaboratively to the artists and the artists are also all different they each have a different need and different goals that may also change from year to year which we talk about annually.
You’re probably satisfied with the artists you represent. Anyway, is there any artist you would really love to represent even if he’s not anymore among us?
There are lots of great artists I’d love to work with: Subdha Gupta, Judith Ann Braun, Paul Klee, Miro, Giorgio de Chirico, Brian Dettmer, Zhang Huan, Anish Kapoor, Julie Heffernan, Evan Penny, Li Wei, Tomoko Kashiki, Patricia Piccinini, Mary Anne Barkhouse, Jeff Koons, Masatake Kouzaki, Mark Evans… there are I’m sure many more it’s hard to encapsulate them all just like the music one loves… But I’m also interested in working with artists that I may not be aware of so I encourage artists who are at a senior level which to me is “defined as having exhibited in major museums and major dealers who wish to seek further partnerships of other dealers around the world to connect with me”. I do however hope to foster emerging artists at a later time but at present do not have the manpower to further this just quite yet!
How important is the personality of an artist when it comes to management and representation? Do you receive a lot of e-mails from artists asking for support? How do you deal with that?
This is a great question, and personality is hugely of importance to me. I usually take 6-12+ months to take the time in getting to know an artist or the artists spouse as they are sometimes involved. For me it is not simply the technical skill, conceptual skill set, work ethic, accountability but also the personality of an artist. Sometimes one can love the works but having met the artist it can ruin your complete appreciation of the work and you can no longer enjoy viewing it any more. Working I think as well in the non profit for 5 years also has heightened this sense of personality as a key component to judging whether to work with someone or not. I truly believe in doing everything as a team and in order to this it’s not possible if one does not relate to one another. It’s funny I get some emails from artists mostly emerging artist but I truly am seeking some more submissions electronically. That being said I do take a bit of time to respond but always do and always look at the portfolio. I think it’s important that one treats the fine art as a serious business and everyone starts from somewhere, I certainly did and I think it takes courage to put yourself out there and inquire about dealers and managers their thoughts on one’s portfolio. Mostly though I receive emails from my artists that tell me of artists they love though they continue to be surprised at how picky I am about the kinds of works I love. I’m super selective I suppose. I should also mention too I’m looking for some phenomenal water colour artists so email me out there if you’re reading this.
Do you consider you activity stressful? Tell us a little bit about your daily basis routine. Do you have any hobbies? What do you do when you want to have a quick escape from your work?
For the most part of my job I wouldn’t say it’s stressful otherwise I wouldn’t pursue this but there can be days like any thing that becomes stressful. I usually tackle these stressful things immediately if possible as I like to confront it and rectify it or put my best foot forward in knowing I do all that I can to solve whatever it is. Some things if they are stressful and more complex I take a day or two to make a decision that isn’t emotional based and one that makes logical sense. My daily routine: get up early in the morning around 7:30/8:00 am check my email right away delete stuff I don’t need or flag important emails from my managed artists and others. Wash up, dress, put the kettle on I always have a morning cup of green tea and adore Mariage Freres marco polo tea as well as other good quality green tea, have a light breakfast or none. Then feed my dog, Chi a big redbone coonhound mixed great dane. Take her out for a walk, turn all the gallery lights on downstairs to work or work upstairs. After about an hour head to the gym for 1.5 hr and come back for lunch then work again. In working, I’m the type that continuously works with barely a break even for water, only a quick half a block with Chi for a doggie break…usually I work till the late afternoon. At times if I have meetings, appointments that kind of thing between Mon-Fri then I do them and then come back and work again till the evening. Every so often my schedule can get out of whack and I find myself working late at night but this rarely happens. After dinner or just before another long walk with the dog… goodness I suppose a lot revolves around her too as I write this out! I try and stick to a Sat/Sun time off and my artists are great in respecting this unless it’s something really urgent and it’s an emergency we connect otherwise I’m only reachable Mon – Fri any time for them up until the evening then. My hobbies were going out for a run as I’m a long distance runner since I was 9 years old. But now as I was newly diagnosed with an aliment on my foot I am attempting to cycle indoors, the elliptical machine and do yoga and indoor rock climbing regularly. Exercise to me is always a quick and easy escape for me. Other times just cooking and being outdoors especially in the Spring and Summer sitting with my dog Chi helps too.
In your opinion, what is the actual state of art?
This is a broad and loaded question and there is much to be discussed but it seems like the art market never seems to rest in terms of something happening. Reflecting back on this year in 2012 the art auctions seem to be full in attendance and buyers of Canadian art such as Painters 11 and Group of Seven in Canada seems to be at an all time high which is interesting as I find us Canadians are slow to act on things but then again we are at a time in which we’re purchasing our own historical art vs. Canadian contemporary art are always comparably slower then in other parts of the world. In Europe and in the States it seems artists that were once hugely sought after in the 90′s such as Hirst, de Kooning, Gursky works as well as Murakami seems to be affected in the fairs and in the auction houses with Christie’s for example many of these artists listed above this past year were left unsold. Similarly in Sotheby’s Fall 2012 auction too. The market in general of these hotly sought after artists hasn’t per sea “cooled” but rather I think is leveling out so to say. They are still much valued just that they aren’t being as snatched up as quickly as prior. This is apt to happen in anything. Particularly with contemporary arts as it unlike the other art markets are a bit more mercurial which makes it most exciting as there are huger potential highs that can therefore result too. The market in Asia such as China who I think was frantic in acquiring all the big named masters particularly impressionist works seem to have been less active too this past year in both the auction houses and art fairs. It seems the trend of collectors are that they are buying works that are more “hand made” that is works that processes are evident or are clearly explained such as Fred Tomaselli’s Organism which was prior to it’s sale was featured on a YouTube video making the work and resulted in a sale of £736, 650. Other interesting areas in terms of the state of art is in the past museums and institutions as well as auction houses I found were arenas where the most interesting up and coming and established artists were making a mark in after they made a mark in the commercial gallery world. Recent years I find are beginning to merge these worlds into one where the once glamorous commercial galleries are losing their sense of individuality and these artists in all these various kinds of locations are converging. It’s not necessarily a bad thing I rather look at it as a good thing because it will force curators with Ph.D and specialists with Master degrees, auction background and dealers in the commercial ring to perhaps work together. Or at the very least look at the hurdles each of them face and come up with solutions from each other educational and business practices. In this way we can encourage and further a culture in the various parts of the world embracing arts and culture and further the public at large viewing access to works.
What is your biggest goal in life?
To try and truly appreciate the present day and live in it. Love and courage.
What can we expect for 2013?
An exhibition on Sat April 6 – May 25, 2013 featuring Catherine Howe “Recent Paintings & Unique Prints from the Proserpina Series” alongside featured artists of Gallery House. Proserpina described as ruminations on the sublime. Or as Howe furthers: “semi-pure painting with spewing, spouting buds and blooms, swirling strokes of luck”. Influenced by Dickinson poetry of ecstatic nature and mystery of the physical world this selection of works exhibit ecstatic layers of heavy floral, light, champagne and slathering of suggested animals or hidden imagery. Some brief background on Howe: She had her first exhibition in New York at White Columns in 1987. While in Buffalo she served as Curator Hallwalls Contemporary Art Center (1984-88), a legendary artist-run space started by Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo. Arriving in New York meat packing district in 1989 became an Associate Director of White Columns until 1995. She emerged as an artist while in this creative non profit milieu in the early 90’s along with such artists as John Currin and Lisa Yuskavage—artists also interested in painting a new figuration. Currently she is the Faculty Chair – Graduate Painting & Drawing Faculty at the New York Academy of Art and a full time artist. Her paintings have been exhibited extensively in solo shows internationally appearing in numerous prominent publications that include Art in America, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker, Artforum and The New York Times. Also our annual exhibition for June 29, 2013. There may also be a some special announcments throughout 2013 that we’re working on which may be one day/night events too –stay tunned by liking us and becoming our friend on Gallery House facebook page and checking in at www.galleryhouse.ca.