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Of France and its marvelous treasures: An Interview with Gallerist Ricardo Fernandes

Juliana Sícoli

Greetings Ricardo, it is a distinct pleasure to speak with you about your exquisite mind, refined sensibilities and views on culture and art. Please share with us how you began your first gallery in Brazil, and then how you choose to expand into France establishing your gallery as a location most precious.

Influenced by my father who was a black businessman, an opera singer, and an impulsive art and design collector, I started my journey as an art collector very early in life, even without knowing I was naturally following his steps. Young, I started my first art gallery with a friend in Brazil right after my first University graduation and never stopped to grow my interest in the art of our times.

My fascination with France started from my education, following my parents’ strict rules, and being educated in English, French and German since being a kid in Brazil. France was to me a synonym for joy in Arts, a kind of paradise where all Arts collide. I knew my journey abroad was just starting when I first went to study in Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland. I never stopped studying and I think I never will. After all, aren’t we the result of a constant meta-physical and physical evolution? Learning is part of this evolutionary cycle.

In 2006 when I first decided I should establish myself in Paris together with my Finnish life partner, this decision came as naturally as it should. It took some adaptation to open the gallery in Paris in 2008, then when I felt ready to go, I didn’t think twice. Being based in Paris to me is living my dream at its best. Living in Paris for the development of art projects was my best decision, ever. Paris is geographically perfect if we want to expand art to the world and the French government and Parisians have a serious commitment to art. And it seems to me now that the Parisian contemporary art scene is becoming the European hub of the century, just as this city deserves.

Eduardo Fonseca

Contemporary art’s definition is to some a collectanea of shifting meanings precisely because it exists as critique of time and requires contemplative consideration about what art is per se. This aside, what is your personal definition of it, and what is Contemporary arts reason or purpose for being?

Contemporary art is both simple and complicated to define. It is part of my understanding that to be included in this evolutionary subject we must recognize ourselves as contemporary beings. But, “contemporary” 20 years ago is different from, “contemporary” today, and it will also shift to another level of, “contemporary” tomorrow. Contemporary art is the art of who’s alive, the registration of a very particular period of time, and the necessary perception of where we intend to go. Finally, Contemporary art may even not exist as we perceive it. But as perception, I see it as a metaphysical, bi-dimensional, tri- dimensional extension of our life process. The purpose of it is to attest to our insistence in considering ourselves rational – a word that we created ourselves but do not know how to deal with today.

Lívia Melzi

We are well versed in Frances’s colonial escapades, and that the School of Paris and many of its famed graduates such as Braque, Picasso and Matisse at the turn of the century were substantially influenced from Congolese sculptural form. But France also influenced Brazilian culture in the early 19th century with invasion through theater &c,. Because cross pollination from across cultures already existed, did this at all influence your desire to show the French what you had developed? Please use this question as a starting point to discuss this or matters tangential.

When Europeans invaded Brazil back in the 16th Century, we were more than 8 million inhabitants in the country, some studies claim that we were an even bigger population. Although called primitive by invaders, there were human and religious civilization in the region that today prove that some old theories were completely wrong: we were in harmony with nature, we were part of it without destroying it, and added to all knowledge of our ancestors, there was Art. In other words, the more we learn about art, the more we conclude that there isn’t any relation to superiority or inferiority in art. In this field, we are all learning and there must be only quality guided by our natural feelings and educational experiences. Many artworks praised today were considered outrageous garbage in the past. Since art is a register of human expression, I came to France to educate and to be educated in a continuous equalitarian exchange process. I recognize the important role played by France in the past, mainly in the conservation of our history. The human history. Now, as a contemporary person I wish for more. I wish we could evolve all art expressions into one, and I think Paris is the greatest, “plowed field” for that today.

Roland Schmitz

Your artistic selection could be labeled as eclectic in genre and breadth, but I find the common thread to be a piqued profundity, or remarkableness, which seems specific to your individualized taste. In your own words could you please tell us what it is about your artists that attracted you to them collectively? I acknowledge that each would have unique considerations, but I desire to know because all share that Fernandes je ne sais quoi.

My choices today are a historical register of what my life was yesterday, therefore there is an intrinsic signature in my gaze. And yes, quite eclectic I would agree. I want to be free and in the process of being free, I always want to have an open eye to everything presented to me without any barrier regarding what comes to my attention. But this is above all an exercise. I want to use art as a self-educational window where everything is possible. I can do, be, or have whatever I want because even the interpretation of art comes from within. Therefore, I like artists that give me the permission of being able to evolve in constant dialog with them, exchanging our mutual demands and our mutual offers. Art is there to break barriers, even if sometimes we do feel comfortable with tradition. All artists that give me that feeling of not understanding their art completely at a first look are the artists that give me more pleasure to work with. Then I have to have my foot back on the ground, so I can translate all my knowledge to my clientele and art collectors, and they can get into the game as well. Every single morning, when you look at an artwork in your home, it must propose to you a new experience, like a mirror, a source of interpolation. That is what I am always looking for.

Mathilde Thiennot

In your meditations on artistic meaning you speak much about the visual as social communicant, which I agree. In your view, which role should art play in society? And, is art today living up to its responsibility? Why or why not?

Art has an educational role and it has always been like that. When you look at an artwork you are not only appreciating it aesthetically, you are actually reading with your eyes and letting your mind communicate with yourself. It is a self-conversation. No wonder all tyrants hate art because people with access to art and recognition of art as an educational tool are people with access to self-knowledge. And, where there is an abundance of education there is no domination distraction. Today’s art is evolving and we must adapt ourselves. Regarding the responsibility of art, I would prefer to call it the consequences of art. In a world of symbolism and representativity, there is no place for responsibility of art. Because what comes first in art is expression and for expression, there are no limits before results. The word responsibility is something created by humans for domination and consequently, it generates so much confusion for us.

Lula Ricardi

One thing about progress is that it allows anyone anywhere with an internet connection, and will, to share their works online, in effect, making a live feed of visual noise akin to rushing waters where bits and pieces of perfection can sometimes be found glistening atop the flickering surface. But locating the best now takes work in a way that’s different from yesterday, before it was locality or gallery shows that were limit, but now it is down to attention or private understandings on where to look/patience in wanting to. Because our lives have become so saturated with visual stimuli, what do you think this has done to our sensibilities surrounding taste?

Well, I completely agree with you. I think basic education such as literature, music, books, art gallery visits, museum visits, concerts, travel and so much more are good grounds to be able to establish a personal paradigm. The challenge today online is called algorithm. It is something that helps mass domination without saying that it works against the public. Algorithm is evil to me. Because of algorithm our power of experimenting with things and freely choosing what we want is simply gone. Therefore, the experience of visual exchange outside the web is very necessary to be able to go back and better navigate inside the web. I am totally pro technology because it is part of us, but personal social exchange is the formula to the continuity of freedom outside and inside the web. We shall never forget the importance of an art expert and gallerist that navigates all of this world’s mass of visual information and graciously/deeply studies everything to pick the best of art in contemporary times. In order to have a properly functioning world web, we have to face that we are human beings in continuous social relation and physicality.

Andrea Rocha

Digital art has now been widely embraced by the top galleries in the world. The old guard has been widely rumored to be dead-set against its adoption, but progress tends to stifle descent in time simply due to the changing of mores and youthful desires. What are your views on digital art and new media? And were you an early adopter or critic? Has your mind changed across time?

There is no knowledge without technology and technology is not something new, coming from centuries ago. But there is no qualitative technology without a deep understanding of our environment, including ourselves. What is happening today is not new, but it challenges us on different levels. Today, we are facing a very strong fast-forward in life related to technology in so many aspects without even noticing. As humans, we have to adapt to it without over-dramatizing the subject so it is not doing us so much harm. I am for digital art and see it as one of the medias to be explored and integrated. Coexistence will keep all art expression on top. Remember when photography started and was announced as the end of painting for some of the skeptical art specialists of old times? Today photography is not only a tool but an art expression itself, completely integrated with humanity. Technology is the evolution of humanity and shall be recognized as it is. Digital art is something magical. Although we are just starting, I think it has lots of new positive aspects to bring to the table like the socialization of art expression, the diffusion and use of art in different levels of research and projects. The need to understand digital art as a tool to progressive thinking is an important aspect we must consider.

Lita Cerqueira

Please do share with us any important information that you would like for us to know.

The gallery has put together a sensational program for 2022 and the years to come. Solo shows, collective shows, Museum exhibitions and so much more. Thanks to technology nowadays we can showcase and expand our artists’ creation without having to wait for an opportunity to do it physically. On the contrary, curating powerful online shows and online viewing rooms is where we can expand our artists’ thinking process. Take the OVR presented until October 30 on our website for example, where we showcase Ana Luiza Rodrigues’ solo show: in a funky, young, and profound process of self-knowledge. The artist shares with us some beautiful, deep and personal history of hers, transforming her creativity into sensational sculptures at affordable prices. This exchange between technology and real life is already happening and we are glad to bring the best of our artists to our art collectors and promote the expansion of collectionism in a solid way. Our main objective is to expand and prove that art and collectionism are something accessible to everybody. Helping to establish qualitative art collections is one of our main objectives. Therefore, we do not stop researching, learning, sharing. Everything is such a great experience and… art is fun.

Ana Luiza Rodrigues
Leopoldo Martins

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