Monday, 23 April 2012

Martin Asbaek Gallery

Martin Asbaek Gallery, Copenhagen talks to Foam about their participation in the international photography fair, Unseen, taking place in Amsterdam in September.

1.What defines Scandinavian photography compared with that from other parts of the world?

It's hard to say. I don't think that Danish photography has any special features. Danish photography is highly international. Which isn't so surprising since many of our photographers are educated at various schools abroad. These four artists that we will represent at UNSEEN, Astrid Kruse Jensen, Trine Søndergaard, Nicolai Howalt and Ebbe Stub Wittrup come from four different schools in Europe; Prague, The Netherlands, Scotland and from Fatamorgana - The Danish School of Art Photography in Copenhagen, Denmark. But the common feature of these four artists is an intense and precise aesthetic awareness. They work with thoroughly planned concepts and whole thematic series.

2.Can you give us a brief summary of the four artists you will present at Unseen?

Trine Søndergaard's (b. 1972) work ranges from documentary and diary sketches to conceptual photography. In recent years she has focused primarily on the landscape and portrait. Søndergaard is also working closely with the Danish artist Nicolai Howalt (b. 1970). They are known for the series How to Hunt, that describe the interplay of man, nature and animal. They are currently at work on a new common project that we will present at UNSEEN. Nicolai Howalt's work has documentary references, operating at the intersection of conceptual photography and installation.

The third artist Astrid Kruse Jensen explores in her work the borderland between the apparent and the hidden, between the real and imaginary

And finally the fourth Danish artist Ebbe Stub Wittrup, who has focused on the photographic medium since the end of the 1990s. His photographs, whether we look at his neorealistic snapshots or the more conceptually oriented photo series, display a mysteriousness that makes one think of a series of narrative parallel worlds.

They are in total four of the best and well established Danish photographers at the moment. They have all exhibited nationally and internationally at museums and galleries, and are all represented in several private as well as public collections.

3.There is limited space for each gallery at the fair so how will you choose which works get presented?

We are in that lucky situation that all the artists are currently working on new thematic series, so we have the chance to present four new projects for the photo fair. We work very closely with the artist when we select the works for the fairs. The artistic idiom of the group presentation at the upcoming fair will be as enigmatic and poetic as a Nordic landscape.  It will be a truly Scandinavian presentation where the artists investigate the ambivalent space between reality and imagination.

4.You have an art advisory firm as well as a gallery. What are your key tips for those wanting to collect photography?

MAG doesn't have an advisory firm. Asbæk Art Consulting is an independent company founded and managed by Thomas and Patricia Asbæk, Martin Asbæk's brother and mother. An Art Advisory firm works on other premises and has a completely different structure than the gallery business.

But if we asked them for some general advice I have no doubt they would say: 1. Buy with your heart and use your head. 2. See as much art as you can - it's ultimately all about looking, re-looking and then look again. 3. Don't be afraid to contact an art advisor.

The contemporary art market including photography (since there is no real distinction between the two) is very hard to predict. But an art advisor has the sensibility and experience to distinguishing between A-list pieces and B-list pieces and it will always be the A-listers that define an artist or a period in art. And then remember that good art is always a personal investment  - also in the future.

Julie Quottrup Silbermann
Gallery manager at Martin Asbæk Gallery


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