Thursday, February 02, 2017

The Joyful Search For Beauty

European art collector Frédéric de Goldschmidt talks about the pleasures of art, as well as his experiences at the Kochi Muziris Biennale

Photos: Frédéric de Goldschmidt. 'Think About Yourself', a work by Lokesh Yadav. Photo by Albin Mathew

By Shevlin Sebastian

Lokesh Yadav, a student artist from Chhattisgarh, is going to get a shock. One of Europe's noted art collectors, the Brussels-based Frédéric de Goldschmidt, has expressed an interest in acquiring his work. “It is an imaginative work,” says Frédéric.

The art work, 'Think About Yourself', has been displayed at the Students Biennale at Mattancherry. It represents a sheep in the form of a comb. “The sheep is talking to a microphone,” says Frédéric. “I liked the sense of individuality which is conveyed by this solitary sheep, who wants to be heard by the herd.”

This work, by Yadav, is part of the 465 works by students of 55 art schools from across the country. “I was very impressed by the works of the Indian students,” says Frédéric. “Since they are all studying art, I hope they will be able to make a living out of it.”

But to do that, these talents have to be recognised by their peers and the art market. “Unfortunately, many artistes go unrecognised,” says Frédéric. “And so, I am concerned about their future prospects.”

Interestingly, Frédéric became aware of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale only a couple of months ago. “I saw a few photos, on Instagram, and found it interesting. I decided to come since I had been invited to the India Art Fair at New Delhi. So I decided to combine the two.”

And Frédéric is impressed. “The Kochi Biennale is rough, not polished. But this is a Biennale with a soul. It has life,” he says. “Fort Kochi is a wonderful place. And the theme, 'Forming in the pupil of the eye' and the locations work very well together.”

It reminded Frédéric of the Havana Biennale, which took place in May, 2015. “The Havana Biennale was wonderful because, like Kochi, there was a nice link between the place and the works,” says Frédéric. “This was also the case in some of the locations of the Istanbul Biennale (2015).”

Meanwhile, at Kochi, Frédéric has been impressed by the works of Dia Mehta Bhupal and Prabhavathi Meppayil (both of India), Alex Seton (Australia), Yael Efrati (Israel), and Alicja Kwade (Germany). “But I don't think I will be acquiring any of their works, since they don't need the recognition and support, as much as the students,” he says.

On an average, Frédéric acquires dozens of art works every year. Asked the basis of his decision-making, Frédéric says, “I follow my intuition. A work has to hit me emotionally. It should also be aesthetically satisfying, and conceptually strong.”

Interestingly, Frédéric does not have a favourite contemporary artiste. “Every artiste in unique,” he says. “The beauty of art is in its variety. You get into the soul of someone through his work. You can admire his craft and intelligence. This will be different from one artiste to the other.”

But the art collector has a favourite among the Dutch masters of the 17th century: Pieter Jansz Saenredam (1597-1665). “He is a wonderful artiste,” says Frédéric. “His works, mostly on the interiors of churches, are beautifully made, and peaceful. You can look at them again and again and never feel tired.”

As a person, who is always interacting with artistes, Frédéric is best suited to describe their character. “Some artistes are friendly,” he says. “A few are aloof. Some want to be in the limelight, while others like to stay away. Some want to show off, but there are artistes who like to be discreet. There are as many characters among artistes, as there are among regular people.” 

(The New Indian Express, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram)

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