The adventures of the young art dealer


This is something i’ve been wanting to do for quite a while, a story series of my day-to-day adventures working as art dealer and consultant. I believe having a behind the curtains peek might be valuable to both artists and fellow dealers, the art world tends to be very secretive and hermetic, but i always believe that by collaboration and sharing knowledge are key factors to long and sustainable growth in my career. Also, i’m just kind of a nice guy.

Before all just a quick intro. I’m Stephan van Kuyk, i’ve been dealing art for about 4 years. I started Azucar Magazine & Art Gallery with the intent of giving emerging artists a platform to show and then sell their art. I always believed there is a lot of things wrong with the art world and there is the need to start doing everything a little bit differently. The art world has been doing stuff the same way for too long, it’s time to start disrupting, thats why i always try to do things a little different.

In these 4 years i been pushing the boundaries of how a gallery should act, balancing on the thin online/offline border. On one side i regularly take part in art fairs and organize physical exhibitions, on the other i invest a large amount of time and effort into generating online traffic and strategies, i believe that this duality is one of the key aspects of a twenty first century gallery.

That’s me, just a young art dealer trying to do things differently.

Setting up a collaborative exhibition with La Lucha

A couple of months ago i had the chance to open up a temporary gallery space here in Berlin, it was a fantastic oportunity to take a welcome break from pop up exhibitions and really focus on the curatorial aspects of the exhibition I wished to present.

While i really love organizing pop-ups, it’s really time consuming and the pace can be overwhelming sometimes. Coming and going to location, shipping art, taking care of press, hanging the exhibition, printing material and finally taking care of the opening event. Of course much of these aspects, if not all, are not exclusive from pop-up events, but those aspects added with finding the venue and constant traveling during the organization period, really make it more time consuming.

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So there I was, literally on my second day as a fixed placed gallerist, when i get a walk in, which is exciting, because due my non premium location, there weren’t that much walk-ins. Also, I quickly noticed that people feel intimidated to just open the door and enter a gallery. C’mon people, art doesn’t bite.

Upon chatting a bit with my brand new walk-in, I find out that he lived a long time in Buenos Aires, and we actually know quite a couple of artists in common. It also turns out that he was about to open a Mexican restaurant, La Lucha, with a basement specially thought for some art exhibitions, focusing on Mexican art, obviously.

This showed an excellent opportunity to exhibit the latest addition to my artist rooster, Guillermo & Amanda an artist duo who produce simply fascinating artwork. A recommendation from a fellow gallerist, Eva Moll from Art von Frei, who upon meeting the dúo, instantly though that my gallery was a perfect match, she couldn’t be more precise.

All of this was almost 5 months ago. Much has happened since, the temporary gallery closed, I’ve exhibited Guillermo & Amanda’s work several times and the construction at La Lucha is finally over.

So here I am, just back from an art fair in Brussels, with a huge crate of art, explaining to the staff of La Lucha a little bit about the artworks and it’s creators, a very important aspect, if the clientele of the restaurant shows interest in on of the artworks.

The owner simply loved the selection of works to be exhibited, even insisting I should bring a larger selection and offering me to hang art in wall that were not part of the original agreement. An excellent opportunity to give visibility to even more artists.

The owner loved the exhibition to the point where he actually purchased one art piece, to be shown at the restaurant for three months with a sold sign to push sales of further works.

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Guillermo Quintana – Cala 
50×70 cm – 2017 – Collage

So now I need to purchase frames, prepare tags and informational material on a run, the opening is in 4 days and I basically have to double the size of exhibition. But I’m not the type to back off on a challenge.

I guess the main learning aspect of this collaboration with La Lucha is to always keep your eyes open, because you never really know where your next opportunity is gonna come thru. Also, if you work hard and deliver high quality artworks, it’s very likely that the client is gonna notice your hard work and good taste, and ask you to double the size of the exhibition. And when that happens, you have to act fast in order to be able to deliver twice as much Art.