Paris Gallery interviews:
Mariska Hammoudi is the owner of a gallery in the 16eme arrondissement of Paris. It's a very unusual gallery but like most is run by a person passionate about the arts. Ms Hammoudi is a graduate of the Beaux Arts. Her facination is with the history of arts and her passion is to promote and develop her gallery and diffuse an awareness of her artists among the world of collectors. She only exhibits figurative art and has a facination for the renaissance though she appreciates many other forms of representational style.
In france, art collectors are referred to as Les Amateurs d'art. The term comes from a french magazine of the same name and although the magazine ceased after the death of Michel Boutin, the director in the early 1990's, the term is still used today for those who search for and collect the work of artists in France. So don't be confused if you hear the expression being used to describe you.
So what makes this gallery different to others? It's quiet simply the very personal nature of it. You won't find this gallery behind a shop window or see signs directing you to it. You have to know of it. To have been introduced or invited to attend. Her gallery is in her apartment and effectively all of the space within, has been dedicated to the exhibition of works of art. This is a sacrifice in a city where space is at a premium but as Ms Hamoudi says, the art on the walls is the art which she chooses to live with.
The process of choosing an artist is also very personal. To exhibit in her space a fusion between the gallerist and the artist must take place. Together they dicuss each others lives and interests and slowly come to a conclusion resulting in a theme for the exhibiton. It is a mutual conclusion and in the case of the current exhibition which is by Yoomi Ha, a Korean artist and the first non french and autodidact artist to have exhibited here, the theme is secrets.
When you look around the room you wonder how these images could refer to secrets in the life of this young gallerist but she assures me that there are elements in each piece which profoundly remind her of events in her life and the world around her. When discussing the subject she mentioned that to French people and Europeans in general, secrets are something worth learning and even hunting for but most especially they are worth keeping.
What is the future for this gallery? Her intention is to enlarge it but to never have a gallery which has a shop window or which doesn't look like a persons home. Her reasons are simple and I agree with them. Typcially a gallery is an artificial impersonal, sterile space, often with high ceilings and very strong lighting. They can alienate visitors who often cannot imagine the works on display, ever fitting into their home. Here though you can see how, even a large painting (and there are sev eral among her private collection) can easily become a part of the living experience of a typical home, even on the scale of an average Paris apartment.
So how does an Amateur des Arts visit this space if it does not have a typical shop window? To visit a vernissage requires an invitation or to go with someone who has one. Alternately you may visit at any other time by making an appointment. She is happy to show interested people around the space and discuss the works on show. The current exhibition ends 16 décembre 2011.
To visit the gallery website: http://www.galeriemariskahammoudi.com/ and to arrange an appointment simply email firstname.lastname@example.org