In this conversation Tommaso Corvi-Mora talks about the London contemporary art scene that, according to him, is becoming a bit more like New York and thus a bit less interesting. He also introduces some of the artists he works with such as Imran Qureshi an artist from Pakistan who has been nominated artist of the year 2013 by Deutsche Bank. He also mentions, among the others, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye and Colter Jacobsen whose work will be exhibited at Corvi-Mora this year.
Conversation transcription below
Tiziana Casapietra: Can you introduce your gallery and the contemporary art scene in London?
Tommaso Corvi-Mora: I have had a gallery in London since 1996. And since then the art scene has changed quite dramatically. It would be surprising if it hadn’t considering that it has been quite a few years. But it has changed a lot. From being a sort of small art community with few galleries, now it has become a huge art center. I think this mirrors very much the changes that we have seen in the contemporary art world in general; it has become more professionalized, more business orientated, and definitely more popular. The most recent development in London has been the influx of big caliber galleries from New York like Pace, David Zwirner and Michael Werner. And what are the consequences for the local scene? It means that London is becoming a bit more like New York and thus a bit less interesting. One of the reasons why art has become less interesting is that there has been so much more money in the art world. Art has become a lot more professionalized basically, and the fact that it is more professionalized makes it more homogenized, less daring. Creativity is not a profession it is about challenging received ideas and making your own rules. In a system where there is a lot at stake everybody has become a lot more cautious, it is more difficult to be radical and make statements that actually mean anything.
TC: What about your upcoming exhibitions?
TCM: I work with around 18 artists and most of them are artists I have been working with for a number of years. One very good news that concerns the gallery is that one of the artist I work with, Imran Qureshi an artist from Pakistan who we have been working with since 2000, has been nominated artist of the year 2013 by Deutsche Bank. This means that he will have a show in Berlin in April at the Deutsche Bank Kunsthalle. Then the exhibition would travel at the moment we are negotiating different venues, there will also be a big monograph about his work, it is an important validation for Imran Qureshi.
Later, I will be doing an exhibition by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye an artist has joined the gallery a few years ago. She is English, she was born in London in 1977, and her family is originally from Ghana. And after that I will be showing Colter Jacobsen, and artist from San Francisco whose work involves the practice of drawing and he draws on found paper, usually he sort of redraws found images.
TC: How is the atmosphere in London at the moment within the cultural and art world?
TCM: Things are quite difficult at the moment because of cuts in public funding. The public infrastructure, when it comes to the creative industry, has always been very important in the UK for public institutions, museums, exhibition spaces and galleries, and all these cuts do complicate things.
In the UK there’s always been a slightly different awareness of non-western art because of the relationship with the Commonwealth which led to an ongoing sort of multicultural tradition at least since the late 50s. I have been working with 2 artists from Pakistan now for over 12 years, and I do not think I would have encountered their work had my gallery been elsewhere in Europe. At that time, outside of England, you were not just exposed to certain cultures. When it comes to contemporary art Britain has been marginalized for a long time, but now it is pretty much a received fact that the perspective is a lot more global.