interview with jester jacques gallery

by Tom Rowbotham

The Other Art Fair will open in a week's time (25-28.04.2013), with 'buying direct from artists' as its USP. Jester Jacques gallery is teaming up with the fair's media sponsor FAD to showcase several emerging artists in their stand. We had an interview with co-owner of Jester Jacques, Karen Shidlo to tallk about their participation.

Q: Is there a recurring theme throughout this presentation, 'Electric Moon Candy', in the fair?

A: Each of the artists I chose brings something unique to the show yet they tie together quite nicely. The work of Steven Quinn and Super Future Kid go hand in hand through the artists’ approach and process; both use the cut and paste technique, whether in painting or collage. Both are outwardly playful, with Quinn’s series exploring apocalyptic Americana scenes, whilst SFK’s characters can be a bit haunting and sinister. In a similar vein, the work of Nicholas Goodden offers layered narratives through his tightly composed architectural shots or captures the faint silhouettes of strangers in timeless images of London.

Chris Daniels and Rob Bellman both attended Royal Academy / Royal College of Art and they both lean towards abstraction. Bellman is multidisciplinary, highly adept at installation work, constructing sculptures, and creating drawings, whilst Daniels uses acrylic and oil paints to create an impeccable finish on the surfaces of the paintings allowing the viewer to engage in the strong tensions between figure and ground. The drawings and paintings of these two artists work very strongly together and tackle the fundamentals of colour and form.

Hydapes and Issus by Chris Daniels

Q: What motivated you to choose these artists?

A: I met Steven Quinn and Rob Bellman last year and loved their work from the start; I was simply waiting for the opportunity to show their art. I wanted to exhibit work that worked welltogether, yet showed a variety of genres and techniques; setting out to be bold, whimsical and engaging, I chose Daniels and Super Future Kid, as both are incredibly strong painters with their own compelling style. Nicholas Goodden is an artist I came across online whose photography really captured my attention, and I felt his voice would be cohesive with the other artists work.

Q: Do you have any favourite pieces from the exhibition?

A: I like every piece for a different reason, but I feel that ‘Smoking on the Moon’ by Steven Quinn is particularly poignant and really represents his current body of work. Having spent time with him, I know his process is painstaking and that allows me to appreciate it on another level!

I also love both paintings by Chris Daniels as I have a degree in painting and his work is exactly the kind of painting I am passionate about; I love Ellsworth Kelly and Ab Ex in general, so I really engage with his work.

Scuta II by Chris Daniels

Q: Have you always been interested in curating?

A: Even though I studied painting in college, I interned for most of my 4 years at Pratt Institute and I think that is where my passion for curating started. I worked at a few different galleries, an art agency and an art council on Long Island, and I began to feel that even though I loved painting, my heart was really more in the business side of art.

Curating is only one aspect of my job, and I love it, but I relish every part of what I do, from meeting artists and doing studio visits, to dealing with clients and organizing pop ups, exhibitions and art fairs.

Q: Do you have any advice for young curators?

A: I would say to go to as many museums and galleries as you can and try to make connections. Make mental – or physical, if necessary – notes on similarities you see. Also, when you go to an exhibition that is either particularly exciting for you or has received wonderful press, make sure you ask yourself as you go around what makes it stand out and cohesive? What themes are there, how is the work hung, etc.?

As far as work goes, I know a lot of people are against internships, but I did them for 4 years – sometimes for no pay, sometimes for little pay – and what I learned from them was incredible! Something that they can’t teach you in school, you get real life experience and, if you are lucky, a good connection for the future. Build up as many experiences for your CV and trust me, people will give you a chance, especially if you show that you are hard working.

Legio II by Chris Daniels

Q: What is the most memorable exhibition you have seen?

A: When I was studying in New York City, I went to The New Museum desperate to see an exhibition of Mary Heilmann. When I walked in, I saw the shipping crates stacked against a far wall in a closed off area through the large glass window. It was then that it struck me that they were taking the exhibition down; it was the last day of the show! All of a sudden, a beautiful painting caught my eye. It was ‘Surfing on Acid’ byHeilmann and it was breath taking. I stared at it for a good long time and even though I couldn’t see all the works, seeing that one was enough to satiate me. I was lucky enough to see her solo show at Hauser & Wirth last year here in London.That was wonderful!

Q: What do you have in-store for the near future?

A: After The Other Art Fair, I want to get back to what Jester Jacques is all about – working closely with emerging artists! We will be working on getting more artwork for our online shop, an on-going project which is very slow and tedious, as everything is hand-picked. We meet all the artists, discuss their work and build our stock slowly.

We will also be working on putting together a book, maybe doing a pop up in Shoreditch, definitely another workshop and planning more future events for the long term/later in the year. Perhaps more art fairs! We are also working on a monthly, online curated image gallery, where we select the best submissions of art to our website and work with a guest curator to put it all together to create an online venue of interest, discussion and learning. Our first curator is Tabish Khan, Art Critic for Londonist.