How We Find The Artists For Our Gallery Part 1

Yanawit Kunchaethong

Yanawit Kunchaethong

It is really a labor of love that guides us in the  search of new artists.

The gallery started by showing primarily Thai artists as well as a Hong Kong artist, Chung Tai Fu, whose work I had known for more than 20 years as well as  a Vietnamese artists, Giang Nguyen whom I learned about from a German art resource.  We chose these artists because we loved their work. That philosophy still guides us.

When I was teaching at Chulalongkorn University, I met many artists from Thailand whom I wanted to promote in Japan.  Besides loving their work, there was also a Japanese aesthetic in their work.  Some, like Pinaree Sanpitak and Yanawit Kunchaethong had studied here. Yanawit studied in Nagoya and his wife is Japanese.  I made many connections with Thai artists teaching at Silpakorn University and they introduced me to their colleagues and their students.  Initially, I bought for myself and now I buy for the gallery’s clients.

Generally we find other Asian artists via shows, books and competitions.  I buy the catalogues of all the auctions, the bank shows and Government shows promoting young and established artists and in my travels in a given city, I make the rounds of museums and galleries, artist collectives and printmakers trying to find other artists in Asia.

I estimate that we look at more than 1000 portfolios in selecting one artist.

If I see something that I like in a museum or competition, I try to make contact with the artist or their representative and if he or she does not have exclusive representation, I will meet with the artist and if still interested, will obtain some works.  This process sometimes takes 2-3 years for me to track down the artist and sometimes I do not succeed in making contact but I am joyful when I can connect and obtain work.

The large photo below is from the young Chinese photographer Wang Yi Fei whom I tracked down after seeing his work in a book about Top 30 Chinese Photographers under 30.

Wang Yi Fei [photo] and Mario Tauchi [skatebaord]

Now, we are working with a selected few artists from China, Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.  Often the artists we work with are in collaboration with other galleries or in collaboration with artists collaborative.  It is very rare–in fact, I can’t remember ever selecting an artist on the basis of a submission to our gallery.  We get more than 10 submissions a week but usually these are not our taste.  Some artists send out a mass mailing to gallerists.  Advice to artists- know something about the gallery before submitting–and enter as many shows as you can.  Put your work out there.  I must be seen to be appreciated.

The American artists that we show are primarily established artists and I obtain their work via other galleries and printmakers.  Our criteria is work we love and that we can’t stop looking at.

Our preference is for abstract work and portraits, also work with interesting repetitive patters, like James Siena.  Our intent in getting this American work is to introduce work in our gallery that our clients might not otherwise have a chance to see.  We show artists that are well known in New York, but not shown by other galleries here.

Ryota Aoki Ceramic Cups

Ryota Aoki Ceramic Cups

For the past 2 years, we have been increasing the number of young Japanese artists in our gallery.  We find these via the unviersity shows, recommendations from clients and other gallery artists and other gallerists.  Ryota Aoki is one of the first young Japanese artists we have worked with.  After seeing his work, five years ago, in a show, we spent two years trying to find him.  We are one of the first non-ceramic galleries he has worked with.  Now he has had 15 shows in the past year, including 5 overseas.

To be continued.

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