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An Interview with Antoni Ferrer of Galeria Fermay

An Interview with Antoni Ferrer of Galeria Fermay


Apr 10, 2023

Galería Fermay is a young and dynamic gallery founded by Antoni Ferrer in 2022 dedicated to the promotion, exhibition and sale of contemporary art. The gallery occupies the space of a former light-industrial factory in the Blanquerna neighbourhood of Palma. Galería Fermay works with emerging, mid-career artists and established positions. We support artists in the promotion and positioning of their work in the international art circuit. But, first and foremost, we consider our programme as a discussion of contemporary tendencies in the visual arts. The gallery offers indeed a varied programme that celebrates the heterogeneity of narratives that coexist in contemporary art. We collaborate with artists who work with different media and varying approaches; with artists who develop individual experimental languages. Galería Fermay contributes to the artistic discussion with an innovative programme addressing a broad and diverse public and encouraging art collecting in all its forms. Besides its commercial scope, Galería Fermay foments the study and reflection on contemporary artists’ practices. With more than ten years’ experience in the field, we work with established collectors and institutions as well as with a new generation of buyers interested in diving into de world of contemporary art and re-asserting Europe’s commitment to the value of art. We understand the gallery as a living space; a meeting point for artists, collectors, professionals and art lovers.

Antoni Ferrer (b. Palma de Mallorca; 1985) first established his professional curatorial career in London after completing postgraduate studies in the UK. He first worked in various galleries and as an independent curator, simultaneously working on several programmes in the fields of cultural diplomacy and for cultural festivals. In 2018 Antoni returned to his birthplace of Mallorca to immerse himself in the cultural milieu of the island, bringing together his international experience to the Mallorquín context.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Tell us a bit about who you are and your background?

I am originally from Palma de Mallorca (Spain). I took my BA in History of Art at Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona and MA Museum Studies at University of Leicester. After the MA course I moved to London, this period in time was extremely formative for me. I had the immense luck to come across a number of professionals from whom I was able to learn a lot. At the beginning I took some internships and worked in various small galleries as Gallery and Director Assistant. Later on I started developing projects as independent curator and contributed to several cultural programmes in London (the Dutch embassy, Spain NOW!, Instituto Cervantes, etc).

My time in London was very valuable because I worked in many capacities and different contexts, thing that allowed me to see and experience the art world from different angles. Besides my curatorial practice I also gained experience coordinating exhibitions and organising events. I worked with private collectors and alongside artist producing art projects. Now that I am running a gallery by myself I realise how useful is to have all the above experience.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What was your first experience with art? How did it intrigue you to become involved with art professionally?  

Since I was I kid I always liked History and Cultural studies. There was  art at home and I used to visit museums with my family when we travelled abroad. After an unsuccessful year studying Business I decided to study Art History at UAB in Barcelona but to be honest there wasn’t much contemporary art in there; it was mostly focused in Prehistorical, Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Art (Modern and Contemporary Art only accounted for a few subjects). By the end of my degree I knew I wanted to work with contemporary art and so I took my internship with Spanish artist Antoni Miralda. It was only 2 or 3 months but in a way that was my first real experience with the art world.  After taking the MA in Leicester I decided to approach galleries in London. And so I got my first experience at Vegas Gallery, a gallery in Shoreditch (East London). I will always remember it as it was there where I met Antwerp based artist duo Carla Arocha and Stéphane Schraenen. It was their solo show and I basically helped them with what I could. Carla and Stéphane have become very close friends and ever since we’ve worked together in so many projects together. They are of course a central pilar of Galería Fermay.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What is the mission of the gallery?

The mission of the gallery is to position, promote and sale the work of our artists. And we do that through our programme of exhibitions and events, and by working together with museums, institutions, collectors, curators and art professionals. Our aim is to contribute to the art scene with an innovative programme presenting the work of artists that develop individual experimental languages. Galería Fermay offers a varied programme that celebrates the heterogeneity of narratives that coexist in contemporary art. The mission of the gallery also has to do with working with collectors and collections, and nurturing a new generation of art buyers interested in diving into the world of contemporary art. We aim to encourage art collecting in all its forms. I also believe in the social and educational role of galleries: we are spaces open to all visitors and it’s free to access. Contemporary art galleries showcase works of art that come straight from the artist studio. Visiting art galleries is the best way to learn about what’s going on in the contemporary art field. We understand Galería Fermay as a living space; a meeting point for artists, collectors, professionals and art lovers.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Who were some of the first artists you exhibited at the gallery?

The programme is comprised of artists that are part of my biography (those I already worked with in the past) and others that I knew about their work but didn’t have the chance to work with until now. So we’ve got two beautiful streams of artists that coalesce at Galería Fermay.  The first inaugural presentation Here We Go was very important because  we showed works from all of them. It wasn’t a curated exhibition per se but  it had to have enough cohesion and make people want to know more about  the programme.   After that we have done three shows: two solo shows (Floop by Arocha + Schraenen and Tereré by Julio Varela) and a group exhibition True North. The latter is our current exhibition and is a personal project curated by Ken Pratt. Ken and I go a long way back ever since my time in London. I started working as his  assistant and later began to collaborate together. It’s very special that he  has organised the first curated group show of the gallery. In a few weeks  we will inaugurate a new solo exhibition Amarillo Púrpura by local artist Elisa Braem.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: How have the exhibitions evolved over time? And what direction do you see the gallery going towards in the future?

Since we only opened last July 2022 there hasn’t been much evolving I  would say. We’ve got the programme closed until mid 2024 and so we can  focus on other things such as positioning the gallery and preparing  projects.  Probably because of my curatorial background all exhibitions are carefully  planned and conceptualised. It is never only about displaying artworks that are for sale; there is always a specific reason behind all exhibitions. This is  probably a strong feature of Fermay’s exhibitions, I hope we can convey  that to our public.  Our intention is to first consolidate our programme at the gallery and then steadily build up our presence nationally and internationally. We have only started and this is the most exciting part; laying the foundations of the gallery is certainly our top priority.  

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What artists or types of art do you gravitate towards?

If you look at our programme you will see it is quite varied, and I like that. To me there always has to be a strong affinity with the body of work, and to some extent with the artist as well. Art is about communicating and artists are creators of languages. I need to engage with that form of communication at some level (aesthetically, conceptually, formally..) It’s hard to describe what the line of the gallery is because in our case I don’t think there is any (at least I haven’t come up with it consciously). There is of course a common denominator but it is all quite organic; as I said it has to do with finding an affinity, which is kind of an open ended concept. Speaking of a line of the gallery is also a bit problematic. It would seem as if the vision of the gallery precedes the actual work of the artists, and that’s not the case. I think it is the artists that choose galleries, not the other way around.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Please tell us a bit about a few of your favourite or recent exhibitions and highlight some artists for us.

When I was in Madrid for ARCO a few weeks ago I went to see Pablo Palazuelo’s exhibition at ICO; it is a very nice show that brings together Palazuelo’s architecture, design and artistic background. After this exhibition I see his work in a total different light. I also had the chance to visit Juan Muñoz exhibition at Sala Alcalá 31 —it was also very nicely curated and saw for the first time a few works I didn’t know about. Last year, also in Madrid during ARCO, I saw another great show by Michael Armitage at Real Academia de Bellas Arte de San Fernando. Foundation March in Madrid put a very interesting exhibition by Ad Reinhardt including separately his production as an artist and his work as an illustrator. When I went to do a studio visit for Janice McNab in The Hague I visited for the first time Kunstmuseum Den Haag. I loved the architecture as much as the collection. And also recently I have had the chance to visit Dia Beacon in upstate New York which was just an experience I will never forget.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What is your criteria for selecting a work of art? What do you consider to be the most important factors when selecting or evaluating an artwork?

It is important to point out that decisions are always made in conversation with the artist. When it comes to the selection of artworks it really depends on the context and the purpose —whether it is for an exhibition, a project or a special request. If it is for an exhibition, for instance, then the artwork needs to fit the overall curatorial framework, although the commercial side cannot be overlooked. Sometimes some works can be more experimental than others, it is important to strike a balance. If it is a specific request or a commission, on the other hand, then the parameters change and we need to attend the needs of the final recipient.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Are there any particular themes or subjects that you’re drawn to when exhibiting art?

The role of a gallery is not about putting forward certain topics or themes but to provide a platform for its artists to present their work in the best possible conditions. It is through their own work that certain ideas arise and are discussed throughout the programme. In the case of curated shows, however, it is true that the gallery might be drawn to particular subjects. In our current exhibition True North, for instance, curator Ken Pratt tackles ideas that a relevant to the notion of History. Our upcoming group show in September will tackle issues around art production in the age of appropriation.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Do you primarily exhibit group or solo shows? Can you speak a bit about the reasons behind this?

We do solo and group shows, and both kinds of exhibitions are equally important for the programme.  Solo shows incentive artists a lot. They fully engage with the space and  develop more ambitious projects. It is a way for them to test their ideas and  approaches to art. They can decide the parameters by which their work will  be received by the audience.  Group shows are also very important for the gallery’s programme. It allows  the in-house or guest curator to research on certain topics that a relevant  to the contemporary art discourse. Or else to produce highly singular  exhibitions that put forward alternative readings on certain topics.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Is an artist's professional trajectory or career an important factor or would you exhibit an artist?

It is important to build up a career, but it is not the only factor. Having a proven track record of exhibitions in galleries, museums, institutions, collections and so forth is initially something positive because it demonstrates such artist is an active participant in the art circuit. The art world is mostly about validation, so in theory the stronger a CV is the better positioned an artist is. But there isn’t a rule about it; there are many forces at work when building up a CV, not only for artists but also for galleries as well. The above doesn’t mean that we only work with or are interested in artists with have a proven professional trajectory. It can be the case that for whatever reason an artist have not had the opportunity to built up the CV that goes accordingly with the maturity or relevance of his/her work. Or that s/he is too young to have achieved much yet. Here comes the eye of the gallerist to see the potential and introduce the artist in the circuit.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Do you work with art advisors or other art professionals to help sell artwork? Do you think that is important?

Nowadays art advisors are important figures because they enable galleries to connect with new clients. They tend to work flexibly and are acutely aware of the needs of their clients and so communicate more effectively with galleries. It is important, however, to have a code of good practices between all the parties involved. Collaboration is now a key word in the art world. From artists to curators, galleries to institutions we are all quite receptive to initiate fruitful and meaningful collaborations. I think only good things can come up from working together with like minded professionals.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: How did you first become aware of the artists whose work you’ve exhibited? Where do you discover artists?

The programme is comprised of artists that are part of my biography (those I already worked with in the past) and others that I knew about their work but didn’t have the chance to work with until now. So we’ve got two beautiful streams of artists that coalesce at Galería Fermay.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What do you look for when viewing an artist’s portfolio?

It needs to be consistent and well presented. A good design always help to convey the message.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What challenges have you faced when selecting artists or exhibiting artwork?

None in particular. The important thing here is that each artist works in a different way which means that we have to understand their needs in order to establish a functional professional relation. Some issues might arise when an artwork is extremely complex but otherwise it’s just about common sense and being reasonable.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What has been the most rewarding experience running a gallery?

It might sound like a topic but I would argue that the most rewarding experience so far its been earning the trust of the artists I work with. Establishing a relation with a new gallery is always tricky for an artist because at the beginning it is only words. Being able to convey a vision and the artists agreeing to work with you is really really special. Working alongside artists is of course a treat for any gallerist. Once an artist allows you in his/her world it is when it really gets exciting. It is like being inside their minds and that’s when you fully understand the nuances of their work. And of course it is very special when an artwork is sold and placed in a private or institutional collection. In a way that means you are in the right track. I always say that purchasing an artwork is the best way to support artists because they can earn a living, pay their bills and continue producing.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS:  What kind of relationship do you have with the artists whose work you collect?

I only have a very incipient art collection and is made of artworks from artists that I know personally, that are close to me.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Who are some of the artists that you plan on exhibiting in the future, and looking forward to seeing more work from?

We are just a few weeks away from opening a solo exhibition of Elisa Braem, a local artist with whom I had a very strong connection ever since we met a few years ago when I landed back in Mallorca. Next in line is Basque artist Damaris Pan —she is undoubtedly one of the artist to watch out and with more projection right now in Spain. I could go on…we’ve got the programme closed until mid 2024.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Tell us about some of your current shows.

True North is a meditation that is impressionistic and intuitive rather than didactic or dialectical. About this exhibition I like to say that the poetics precedes any form of narrative. True North does not offer a linear narrative that specifically and concisely tackle the artworks on display but quite the contrary; it is a speculative show through which the curator reflects on ideas that relate to History (who writes it, how it disseminates and how it is interpreted). Ken Pratt proposes a constellation of ideas and associations; transversal readings that go from canonical History to art, including ideas that refer to religion, gender, commerce or war, up until the intimacy of the artworks and the biographies of the artists. Participant artists: Sarah Baker & Andy Hsu, Michelle Deignan, Claire de Jong, Janice McNab, Enrique Marty, Catriona Shaw

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Tell us a bit about some of the shows you have planned for the future. What can we expect to see at Galeria Fermay?

We are just a few weeks away from opening a solo exhibition of Elisa Braem, a local artist with whom I had a very strong connection ever since we met a few years ago when I landed back in Mallorca. Next in line is Basque artist Damaris Pan —she is undoubtedly one of the artist to watch out and with more projection right now in Spain. I could go on…we’ve got the programme closed until mid 2024.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: Where can we find the gallery and how do we get in touch?

We are in Palma (Mallorca, Spain) on Pare Bartomeu Pou 42. And you can always find us via email info@galeriafermay.com

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting an art collection?

It sounds like a topic but the truth is that, regardless whether one is a beginner or seasoned collector, the key to art collecting is to see a lot of art. This way one will have enough visual and conceptual baggage to be able to compare, and thus decide what s/he likes the most. For someone who starts now I would say to have patience and to embrace the unexpected. Art collecting is not a straight line; you might find yourself detouring at some point, or paying attention to something you wouldn’t think you’d be interested in. Or else, you can end up disliking something you were in love with just a while ago. Art is a fantastic journey for self discovery. Buy what you like and buy smart. Forget about the investing side, at least at the very beginning, this will come later as your collection progresses.

ARTCOLLECTORNEWS: How would you advise someone looking to expand on their collection?

To expand a collection means that the collector is ready to move forwards. There must be some questions that resonate in his/her mind that need to be addressed. To find a new path of inquiry means to be open to other approaches. Collectors are curious by nature so it’s only normal that they seek to expand their knowledge and appreciation of art.

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