An Insider’s View of Art Rotterdam 

With Art Rotterdam fast approaching, we zoom in on the eighteenth edition of the European art fair, which Le Monde spoke of as “one of the best art fairs in the past year” and is among the top five winter fairs according to Huffington Post. Christina Wilson, VIP & Gallery Relations Manager at Art Rotterdam, shares her thoughts on this year’s fair and the current state of the art fair system. A system that is in danger of being suffocated by its own success.

Art Rotterdam takes place from Thursday, February 9th until Sunday, February 12, 2017.

Yelena Popova.

What can we expect to see at this year’s Art Rotterdam?
The Netherlands has a very strong art scene and as always the Dutch galleries are stepping up and showing the best they have. But The Netherlands has always had a strong presence of international artists, I suppose because of the country’s affluent history of trade. So we will see many great Dutch artists, but certainly also a lot of really good international art works.

In your opinion, what is it that draws audiences to the art fair?
I know collectors – not Dutch – who visit Art Rotterdam every year and I have asked them why they keep coming back considering it is not the biggest art fair in the world, nor the most international. They all tell me that they go because of the good atmosphere of the fair, the chance of getting a good art experience, and the vibrant city and it’s ambitious institutions.

Art Rotterdam provides an excellent platform for the buying and selling of contemporary art. How does the fair seek to inspire art collectors
The fair is offering different frameworks for the galleries to show in. I will highlight the New Section. This section has been curated by Natasha Hoare from one of the most respected institutions in The Netherlands Witte de With. She has invited galleries that are starting to break through in the art world. All the galleries in the New Section are doing solo-presentations. It has been so much fun getting the works in my inbox from all these galleries of great artists I have never heard of before. All of it is very high quality and probably the stars of tomorrow’s art scene. Another framework is Projections. It is always really difficult to show video works at an art fair. You never really get the right presentation, but at the Projections section, you can really discover large scale video works in the right setting.

At the past couple of fairs I have attended, I have experienced a bit of an art fair fatigue. I think people are to some extent tired of the big international art fairs, where art works looks super professional but also somewhat distant. People need some authenticity – art works that they can relate to both in terms of price and narrative.

What does the list of galleries participating and the works that they will be presenting reveal about the character and status of the international art scene?
Well, at the past couple of fairs I have attended, I have experienced a bit of an art fair fatigue. I think people are to some extent tired of the big international art fairs, where art works looks super professional but also somewhat distant. People need some authenticity – art works that they can relate to both in terms of price and narrative. Most people also wish to have a good relation to the gallery. So it is actually very basic: Both gallerists and collectors would like to talk about art, and they are longing for some content and not only commercial success. This seems very clear when you look at the projects many of the galleries are presenting.

What are some of the events and program highlights of 2017 that you are most excited about?
I am definitely looking very much forward to seeing some of the big projections. I can’t wait to see Hanne Nielsen & Birgit Johnsen’s absolutely fantastic video work Camp Kitchen, as I have only seen it at the ARoS Museum in Aarhus, Denmark. I can’t help being very excited about the Danish galleries participating being Danish myself. During the past six months I have investigated the Dutch art scene quite thoroughly. It is so rewarding when you find something and someone really interesting and surprising. Klaas Klosterboer (1959) is such an artist. I love his rough and simple materials and clear colours. Ellen de Bruijne Projects are doing a solo-presentation of his works.

Hanne Nielsen og Birgit Johnsen, "Camp Kitchen".

What is your opinion of the current state of the art fair system and its future?
Unfortunately, I believe that the art fair as a concept is about to suffocate in its own success. As a former gallerist myself I know this from experience. It is far too expensive for a small or medium size gallery to participate in the big international art fairs. One could argue that the small galleries are keeping the big art fairs sexy, but most of the time it is bad business. That is why a local art fair as Art Rotterdam is still relevant. The team behind the fair is working to give the guests, the art professionals and the galleries a great market place. It is simply a nice place to meet each other, so you can talk about art, look at art and buy art.

How has Art Rotterdam responded and adapted to changes in the market over recent years, and how does it plan to continue remaining relevant?
Art Rotterdam is constantly striving to develop new formats. The New Sections and the Projections are such examples. Furthermore, my job is to put some more content in the relation between the gallery and the collector. I am bridging between the two and this means that I have a good knowledge of the works being presented at the fair. I also know a lot of the collectors. This way we can have a fruitful dialogue about the art works and I can give them my picks and at the same time facilitate some meetings between the collectors and the gallerists. It is all a matter of relations.

Klaas Klosterboer.

INFO
Address
Art Rotterdam Van Nelle Fabriek | Van Nelleweg 1 | 3044 BC | Rotterdam

Opening hours 
Thursday, February 9, 11:00 to 19:00 hours
Friday, February 10, 11:00 to 21:00 hours
Saturday, February 11, 11:00 to 19:00 hours
Sunday, February 12, 11:00 to 19:00 hours

Admission
€ 17.50
Online tickets € 13.50
Children under 12 have free entrance