Sorry for the delay in providing this update, I know it is much anticipated by some, but the past couple of weeks have been busier than usual. I am writing aboard a flight between Budapest and Paris.
My last update ended in Budapest where I was visiting sites for a few events that have just taken place. But hold your breath, as I am a pretty much an OCD guy and have to go through the quarter in chronological order.
July and August were quiet and dedicated to back office work and a fabulous family vacation in Montreal, Maine and Boston. We rented a beautiful home on Pleasant Lake with friends and enjoyed wonderful weather, sports, kayaking, chess & poker, water sports and a lobster overdose. Great way to reenergize and highly recommended.
I was back on the road by the end of August, flying to Copenhagen where I was invited by the organizers of Code Art Fair to an exciting program of events and to participate on a panel discussing technological innovations for the art market. Code was a cozy art fair with high quality selections and a roster of interesting emerging galleries alongside a handful of international ones. It wasn't too packed which made for a relaxing, high quality experience. It was also extremely well attended with some very serious European collectors in attendance, enjoying the culinary treats and special programming. The highlight was a water plane trip to the ARoS Museum in Aarhus, a first time visit for me. While in Copenhagen, I also visited the Faurschou Foundation that had a small exhibition of several large scale recent acquisitions - the highlight being an Elmgreen & Dragset auction installation. I also paid a visit to Copenhagen Modern and to the longer established Chart Art Fair in the city center, which was adorned by another Ai Weiwei installation of life jackets (I am starting to feel he is hijacking my privacy).
Then came the much anticipated mid-September trip to Istanbul for the Biennale and Istanbul Contemporary Art Fair, now helmed by fellow collector Kamiar Maleki; and the most awaited event of the quarter, the grand opening of the Zeitz Mocaa in Cape Town at the V&A Waterfront - a landmark event and a significant milestone for the African Contemporary scene.
I thoroughly enjoyed the Istanbul Biennale and thought the curatorial work was phenomenal. Elmgreen & Dragset presented a broad selection of relative new comers of superb quality, fantastically juxtaposed in a variety of beautiful settings. The theme of a good neighbor opened up a lot of possibilities and interesting conversations, and intelligently masked some pretty poignant political messages. Kamiar also did a great job invigorating Istanbul Contemporary with new galleries, good attendance by collectors and a long list of collateral events and beautiful parties on the Bosphorus. Overall a memorable outing well worth the short trip over from Tel-Aviv, which was also a convenient connecting stop on the way to Cape Town... despite the gluten extravaganza at the Turkish Airways lounge.
The festivities around the Zeitz Mocaa opening included a slew of outstanding presentations by the burgeoning Cape Town gallery scene, all putting up their best shows of the year. I was particularly impressed this time by SMAC gallery who had an amazing little show of recent works by Cyrus Kabiru, whom I had the pleasure of spending a few good moments with and ended up inviting to a residency in Israel, expected to happen sometime in the second quarter of next year. I also found the exhibition at the new and enlarged Blank gallery quite strong with a presentation of recent works by Turiya Magadlela, by whom the fund owns several early works, and a smaller show by the upcoming Bronwyn Katz, a name to look out for. Stevenson had a strong show for now superstar Zanele Muholi and a well curated group show of gallery artists in the back-room. Goodman had an ambitious group show that included a live performance and works by heavyweights such as William Kentridge and El Anatsui (back room). I also visited Whatiftheworld and Momo.
The linchpin was of course the grand opening of Mocaa - an architectural gem with a bemusing atrium adorned by a huge winged creature by Nicolas Hlobo that seemed to be just about to fire-wash the tiny humans below and take off into the skies with the conquering queen from Games of Thrones. The gala on the top floor was phenomenal and included warm words by distinguished supporters such as Richard Branson and Morgan Freeman, as well as a truly heartening speech by the CEO and chief curator Mark Coetzee. The events were well orchestrated and the effort was grand, but I thought the curatorial work may have been a bit rushed and was not sufficiently representative of the diversity and quality of art on the continent. I would be surprised however if this is not rectified by the next installation there, once the curatorial team gets into a more steady stride. The Museum is without doubt the most important new initiative for contemporary African art and I am grateful to having been there to celebrate it.
I also attended the Art Basel brunch at Wendy Fischer’s A4 foundation which had just opened in Cape Town - a remarkable mission and a fantastic venue. Along with Willian Kentridge’s Center for the Less Good Idea, these 3 institutions form the bedrock for a much stronger art ecosystem.
Back to Israel in the second half of September I was mostly busy moving offices and doing renovation works and finalizing a few consignments.
In early October I visited London primarily for Frieze and 1-54 art fairs and to follow the auction season. Generally the auctions felt healthy despite a very disappointing buy-in of the season’s highlight - Francis Bacon’s “Study of Red Pope 1962, 2nd Version 1971”, at the Christie’s evening sale. On the other hand, the day sale at Christie’s the following day was particularly strong and Sotheby's and Phillips coming up with satisfactory results.
At the fund level we placed a group of Russian works in the Phillips day sale. As we are in the holding and consolidation period of the fund, we are starting to divest non-essential works, particularly in the softer areas of our collection, where we also have little hope of a better market to sell into in the remaining 4 years of the fund’s life. We are willing to take small losses in such circumstances. The Russian contemporary market is a good example. We had 9 lots in the auction, 6 of which sold, with the 3 less valuable works failing to find a buyer. Total proceeds of circa $85'000 result in a loss of almost $35'000 to acquisition price and $16'000 to book value. Not a good result by any measure but fortunately the amounts involved are relatively insignificant. It is a necessity to continue to cut losses and reduce holding costs of the less successful selections as we move forward.
After London I moved swiftly on to Budapest where I spent a week as part of a broad collaboration with Art Market Budapest that organized an Israeli Culture Festival titled ART.ISRAEL – ART.IS.REAL which included art, music and culinary experiences around the city. I collaborated on various fronts: an exhibition of highlights from the START collection - the art incubator project I founded in 2008; a booth for Amir Nave at the fair itself; an outdoor large scale sculpture of Eran Shakine, and a first art fair collaboration for ArtRunners - the art logistics platform I co-founded in 2015. I also gave a presentation titled ‘Bridging Passion and Investment’ at the fair’s auditorium. The focus of the talk was Art Vantage and the Tiroche DeLeon Collection, where I presented our unique approach and some of the achievements in supporting emerging artists around the world and in introducing a few new people to the passion of art collecting.
My last stop was Paris for FIAC and Asia Now, where ArtRunners had a second Art Fair Collaboration. I am on a plane heading back to Tel-Aviv as I close this update. Next stops are probably Harare and Lagos, as I engage in a more in depth exploration of the art scenes that I intend to focus on in the next few years. More on this exciting development in the next newsletter.
All the best and please don’t hesitate to reach out.
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