In this section we let a selection of art lovers – from occasional buyers to art professionals – talk about their perception of art and preferences: where do they want to see art? Where do they purchase art, and above all: from which artists do they buy? Below, an interview with Anny De Decker (former gallerist Wide White Space Gallery, age 83)
What does art mean to you?
First and foremost, a work of art must touch me. There must be a correspondence between the theme of the work and how it is executed. I get annoyed if it's not done the right way. If it's done the right way, I feel happy.
Were you exposed to art while growing up?
Old-fashioned paintings decorated the walls of our home; seventeenth century, classical, landscapes. As a child I thought that was beautiful. My mother liked to go to the auction viewing days at Campo. When we went shopping, we used to pop in there.
Where do you read about the latest developments in the art world?
Most interesting is word of mouth, through artists and through my daughter Stella, who knows a lot. In the early days of the gallery we mainly looked at magazines; I mainly looked at the images, I often find theory boring. For me it's about experiencing the artwork, which you can't teach someone that anyway.
Where do you prefer to look at art?
I don't like to watch online because I want to see things for real. It may be an incentive. I think a fair like Art Rotterdam is a good place to see a lot of things. The work is best shown in a museum. A gallery can also be very important.
How often do you buy art each year?
A gallery owner from Düsseldorf, Alfred Schmela, advised me to always buy a work from an own exhibition. I have followed that advice. The artist therefore feels supported. Marcel Broodthaers once said: "People can tell me five times that they think my work is important or good, but as long as they don't buy anything, I don't believe it."
Where do you do your buying: in a gallery, at an art fair, at an auction or online?
I no longer buy at auctions, not for a long time. I do not want to do that to the artist, as it is of no use to the artist. I think it should always go through the gallery.
Is it important that you and your partner always agree on a purchase?
We always bought together, we were 95% in agreement. I think it is important to encourage young people, they also appreciate the support more. I also often go to exhibitions because I think that the artist will be disappointed if I won’t.
Do you have a special relationship with any one gallery?
Sofie Van de Velde and PLUS-ONE’s Jason Poirier, Micheline Szwajcer can't seem to call it quits and I find that nice, Annie Gentils of course, and Fred&Ferry. And should I know the artists well, such as Luc Tuymans and Anne-Mie van Kerckhoven at Zeno X, I’ll the exhibition. In Brussels I visit Xavier Hufkens, LMNO and Baronian.
If you had an unlimited budget, whose work would you buy?
Then I would buy a work by Marlene Dumas at Zeno X, I regret that I never did. It was at a time when we bought little and were less interested in painting. The love for painting came back through Luc Tuymans.
Who are your favourite artists?
Guy Rombouts' objects have a history: they contain both the past and the present.
Annemie van Kerckhoven storms ahead, her work has something very angular to it. I have been following her since the eighties, she always follows the same path and will not be stopped by anything. Her feminism really appeals to me.
When it comes to Luc Tuymans’s work, I am fascinated how the image relates to the background, how the cut-outs are made. It's a very strange way of painting actually, odd colours. Unexpected, very threatening.
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