We’re you exposed to art while growing up?
RR: It’s all I’ve ever known, my father has been collecting art for as long as I can remember. I have always seen art hanging on our walls and was taken to exhibitions and museums since childhood.
JR: My grandfather was a passionate listener to opera, this was the only form of cultural development. Through the attention for music, I discovered quite early on another creative form of listening more towards freedom of expression, improvised jazz by Thelonius Monk, Miles Davis, Bill Evans and John Coltrane - a revelation of free creativity.
How did you come into contact with the art world?
RR: For this question I have to refer back to the first question. I have always had art and artists around me in my life, thanks to my father.
JR: It was only during my secondary education that I was lucky enough that a recently graduated teacher – namely Roland Jooris, later curator of the Raveel Museum – taught us in a completely different way and tried to interest us in visual art. The way in which he read stories from his collection Bluebird (from 1957) in his captivating voice, prompted me to delve more deeply into them. During one of the lessons we were instructed to read Designing and Rejecting by B. Majorick. A discovery about design in all its facets, ranging from Saul Steinberg (satirist) to Le Corbusier's modern metropolis of Chandigarh. This was where my great interest in all creative forms arose, and later this was the impetus to study architecture.
What was your first job in a gallery? Or did you immediately start a gallery yourself?
RR: I've never worked at any other gallery. As a music producer I have focused on expanding my studio and production house BubbleBath Productions for the past twenty years. Only when I bought this house in 2000 and a drastic renovation was necessary did it occur to me to house my music studio in the basement and to give the joint passion of my father and me a place on the ground floor, namely a platform, for artists.
JR: In May 2014 we exhibited here for the first time – good friend and artist Laurent Cruyt – with his digital images of TV screen and film.
How would you describe your gallery’s profile?
RR: I would like to describe the profile of the property. It has always been my dream to have a creative home. A house where everyone from different art disciplines feels at home and can inspire each other. The artists who come to the studio are inspired by the art, and the artists by the music. It has therefore happened several times that we combine both in the gallery.
JR: At the start, in 2017, the intention was to have De Wael 15 function as a canvas for a cross-pollination of the arts.
What do you think is the best part of being a gallerist?
RR: The best thing about being a gallerist is discovering new artists. Visiting their studio, going along in their world and being surprised and amazed every time. It is the artists and their work that give me the inspiration and motivation to keep making new exhibitions.
JR: The challenge and the process of making choices to bring the works into dialogue, with the aim of making a good exhibition that the artist and gallerist can relate to.
Which national / international galleries do you feel an affinity with?
RR: I have a great admiration for galleries with their own identity and vision.
JR: As a young gallery one has to go one's own way. One should dream, but not compare; each gallery has its own identity and vision.
In an ideal world, which artist would you most like to represent?
RR: It may be a cliché answer, but I am a fan of all the artists that we represent and exhibit. I am passionate about their work and see them as family. I try to convey that passion every time I talk about their work.
JR: I agree with Rik that it is always nice to grow with the artist from the start.
What has changed in the art world since you took your first steps?
RR: In the short period (five years) that DW15 has been around, not that much can change. What I have noticed is that social media is becoming more important every day in reaching new art lovers. The young collectors find and contact you at Instagram.
JR: Media, from Instagram to global sales sites, enter our network every day; we can argue that art receives more attention as a result, but not too much so there is no exclusivity any longer. Otherwise, collecting will come with a wait-and-see attitude. I sometimes have the feeling that it is becoming overconsumption and no longer selectively ends up on the internet. This all depends on the way you look at it. But it is always nice to be able to discover something unique yourself.
What / whose work do you collect yourself?
RR: I haven't been collecting for very long myself. In the past I mainly bought editions of Panamarenko, Jan van Munster, Luc Tuymans, among others. As a young collector with a limited budget, an edition gives you the opportunity to buy something from an artist you admire. That is why we usually ask the artists who exhibit with us to make an edition. In the meantime, the collecting bug has taken hold of me, and works have been added by, among others, John van Oers, Stefan Annerel, Charlie de Voet, Henk Delabie, Martha Scheeren, Max Dreezen and DD Trans. My last purchase was a work by Ed Templeton and I recently received two more fantastic works by Vincent de Roder & Yvan Derwéduwé, for the birth of my daughter Roos.
JR: Since studying architecture, I was in the middle of various art movements, where I bought my first works of art. There is of course work in the collection by every artist represented by us. There are also works by Carl Andre, Christo, Johannes Kahrs, Otis Jones, Eva Schlegel, Mark Manders, Paulo Monteiro, Jaromir Novotny.
By domestic artists Guy Mees, Willy De Sauter, Catharina Van Eetvelde, Kris Martin, D.D. Trans, Nicolodi Renato, Dan Van Severen, Ronny Delrue, Jean-Marie Bytebier, Sofie Muller, Matthieu Ronsse, Mario De Brabandere.
Has the pandemic changed the way you see the artworld?
RR: It hasn't influenced my thinking about the art world, despite the fact that it has been a difficult period. What I did notice is that the pandemic has had a different effect on each of the artists. Some thought it was fantastic to be able to create in peace, while others needed the daily stimuli.
JR: Overall, it has been a very productive period for artists. There were no exhibitions or fairs. Artists told us there was a great need to communicate about the work and to promote it again. Fortunately, there is still the virtual art experience, it is important and will survive all times