Eva Moll has been around on the international art scene. Her focal points include Frankfurt am Main, where she originally comes from, and New York, which was her home for fourteen years and where she still keeps a residency. Eventually, her path led to Berlin and into opening her own gallery space. As a freelance artist and curator, she was organizing happenings and performances in non-profit, project space environment earlier in her career. Since opening Art von Frei in March 2015, she has changed her way of working in accordance with the fact that she now has a commercial gallery to run. It was the final day of the group show “Caught being good” when I dropped by and caught Eva being a good gallerist.
Her enthusiasm is contagious. The artist turned art dealer readily shares information about the works and relevant details from the artists’ biographies in a manner that is engaging and memorable. She is helpful and polite, while at the same time refreshingly to the point. There’s a moment when four of us intrude Eva’s busy schedule. When most would become stressed or grumpy, Eva remains calm and competent, discussing three different matters with three different people (including her intern, one of the exhibiting artists and myself). The fourth “intruder” is a collector who randomly passed by and ended up purchasing a small piece.
“What I’m doing is not very conceptual, these are high quality artists who are well known but my price segment is very low. My intention is not to belong to an elite group, even though I have museums, galleries and collections buying works here. I have to make sure that I keep a realistic, down-to-earth approach.” A spontaneous sale is the cherry on top, as Eva puts it, but apparently it’s not possible to base one’s working way on walk-ins. Art von Frei lives from Eva’s international network. That’s why she prefers her small shop on Brunnenstrasse to eighty square meters worth of gallery space somewhere in Weissensee: “My network visits me. It’s a cute tiny place, but it’s so central. There’s no excuse for not coming to visit.”
Art von Frei shows a variety of both established artists and emerging artists. What they have in common is an action driven, interdisciplinary working way: “Most of the artists that I exhibit extend their practice into performance.” Even in a show like “Caught being good” where traditional paint-on-canvas works prevail, accompanied by the cardboard collages by Jens-Ole Remmers, the inclination towards action is obvious. Kiddy Citny is a renowned streetart artist who painted his signature heart-shaped faces on the Berlin Wall back in the day. Nowadays he works in his studio located in the district of Schöneberg. Jim Avignon is an post-pop and action painter whose mural can be seen at the East Side Gallery. Eva’s own piece extends from the canvas onto the gallery wall. Running her own gallery and organizing exhibitions in other spaces as well, does she have much time left for her own art practice? “I consider exhibition making part of my art.“
Whatever she does, she remains positive, playful and highly professional at the same time. The name Art von Frei reflects this approach: “It had to be representative but at the same time I wanted it to be absurd,” Eva explains. Vaguely inspired by the New York gallery Klaus von Nichtssagend whom she worked with in the 00s, she went for Art von Frei, which “sounds a bit like it would be a name but everyone knows it’s not.”
The current exhibition, Jos Diegel’s solo show titled “Unfinished Adventures With Happy End”, opened on Nov 10th and runs till Dec 12th.
Images: Installation views of the Jos Diegel exhibition. Courtesy of Art von Frei and Jos Diegel, Photography: Stephanie Wächter, (c) Berlin 2016