What do art lovers like? Where do they buy their art and, most importantly, what do they buy? Every Monday an enthusiast tells about his or her bond with art in this section. This week it’s musician, photographer and filmmaker Tom Barman (48).
What does art mean to you?
A lot. Along with loving, creating art shows mankind at its very best. It restores, little by little, what was irrevocably destroyed. And it, along with music, meditation, and sex, is the closest we as mortals can come to the mystery.
Were you exposed to art while growing up?
My parents were art lovers. There were beautiful things at home without them being unnecessarily serious about it. When something touches me, without being able to pin down why that is so, a lifelong 'histoire d'amour' begins. And I learned to feed myself. As a willing, sometimes gullible, but above all greedy lover.
Where do you read about the latest developments in the art world?
Fairs, magazines, auctions, galleries, museums. Also by reading authors such as Milan Kundera, John Berger, Peter Schjeldahl. And from the innate, yet healthy aversion to a single style.
Where do you prefer to look at art?
Doesn’t matter. One of the works I once bought was in the trash can of the artist's studio. That's a lie: I got it as a gift.
How often do you buy art each year?
The very first time there was a sum of money in my bank account, I expended that sum entirely on a work of art. Editions, unique work... it doesn’t make a difference to me. If only something happens in my head.
Where do you do your buying: in a gallery, at an art fair, at an auction or online?
All four. From artists directly. I once bought a work in a pop-up gallery in Tokyo. The artist in question had just gone out for a coffee, so missed my purchase. When I got home I received a long thank you email. The work cost €80. That's what they call: a humbling experience. Direct contact with the artist is rarely a disappointment. Too close contact with an artist, however, is rarely a revelation.
Is it important that you and your partner always agree on a purchase?
I always listen to what my partner says. Shared fun etc. And the less she "knows" about it, the more I prick my ears. If you live together, putting up art is like a three-person tango.
Do you have a special relationship with any one gallery?
The galleries where the usual arrogance and sometimes laughable seriousness is abandoned and replaced by enthusiasm, friendliness and knowledge.
If you had an unlimited budget, whose work would you buy?
An 'Übermalung' by Arnulf Rainer. A 'Cigarette Painting' by Tom Wesselman. A light blue Fontana. An Erased Painting by Robert Rauschenberg. A cut out by Hans Arp. An oil painting by Sophie Taeuber-Arp. Something from Zurbarán, Diebenkorn, Chamberlain, Krassner, Caravaggio (the list with a thousand other names is available on request).
Who are your favourite artists?
Carla Klein: this is an image I recognize of where I live (part-time). The horizon, the ocean. With this view, albeit less dark, I take the morning coffee. I usually find images of landscapes endlessly boring. You have to do something with it (e.g. coffee and cigarettes, and look at it). This is gorgeous.
Jaimy Gail: lovely areas of colour. Where does she get that red? It looks like an ultrasound. I'm a little jealous of this. A little jealousy is a good motivator.
D.D Trans, that miniaturist of great ideas, is the most laconic of the Belgian artists. Visual one-liners. Always with a frisson of fun.