LET'S TALK ABOUT ART: Interview with Maria Stenfors
Century member Maria Stenfors is an art consultant, writer and artist mentor.
She ran the respected Maria Stenfors Gallery between 2010 – 2015, representing a stable of eight artists.
Century are currently exhibiting two of the artists that Maria represents; Mela Yerka and Julia Pfeiffer who both have solo presentations in the Tap and Club rooms respectively.
Our curator, Leo Babsky, caught up with Maria to discuss her career, thoughts on the state of the art world and the work of both Yerka and Pfeiffer.
LB: Can you give us a bit of information about your background: how you entered into the art world and ultimately ended up running a gallery?
MS: I studied Art History, Philosophy and Classical Studies at University, but was more interested in contemporary art. I was lucky to work briefly with a great gallery in Stockholm and that really set me off in the right direction of being inquisitive of conceptual contemporary art. I moved to London shortly after and started working in a gallery. After having worked in several galleries and having been an art adviser, I wanted to open up my own space to allow me to work closely with artists and curate exhibitions.
LB: I know you have recently closed your gallery space but continue to work with some of the artists. Although this is sad in one way it is also quite exciting and suggests a new model of working. Can you talk to us a bit about how you will be working now and what projects you have lined up?
MS: Although I am sad to have closed the space, I am also rather proud of what I managed to achieve during the time the gallery was open. I took it as far as I could under all circumstances, and at this particular moment in time. Contemporary art is my main passion and has been so for 25 years. Having a good relationship with many artists both exhibited and represented by the gallery, and have already included several of them in various projects that I have been working on since. I hope to be able to continue with that but also to continue to explore and find new collaborations.
I am very excited to start writing for C-Print this autumn, giving a regular view from London with artist interviews and exhibitions, performances and events happening in the city. So with this, consulting and one- to– one advisory I think it is an exciting future ahead.
LB: It is interesting that we are talking about a new way of working whilst we are sitting in a private members club. This idea that a dynamic and challenging art program is an essential part of the luxury, bespoke experience is a fairly new one, and one I feel that is a positive progression of the way we value contemporary art. What are your thoughts on this?
MS: Artists really want their works to be seen or experienced. Often, a gallery, a museum or an institution provides the natural setting to do so. I do think, however, that the traditional conception of an art space is evolving, and is doing so rapidly. As long as the art, or the artist’s idea, is not being compromised, new innovative ways to display art is likely to emerge in the future. In this respect, I think the Century Club has great potential. The space and location is superb, and it has a great flow of interesting members.
LB: We are lucky enough to be showing two of your artists simultaneously at the moment.
Could you talk a little bit about both artists: how you ended up working with them and what drew you to their work. Let’s start with Julia.
MS: Just before I opened up the gallery, I paid a visit to Berlin and visited her studio. We immediately agreed to work together. I admire Julia’s freedom of expression, and how she can flow so naturally between ceramics and photography. She has a rare ability to stage and control her world, but at the same time does not control the viewer. Her works often deal with psychology and the unconsciousness.
LB: And Mela?
Martin Gustavsson, another painter I have worked with, went to her degree show at CSM and came back in awe of her. When I saw her works I immediately fell in love with her paintings. Mela’s artworks deal with something very important in my opinion: how we think of our civilisation, the importance of culture in our civilisation and what makes us human.
As artists, both Julia and Mela manage to visually, intellectually and emotionally convey their aesthetic and own experience through the works – and at the same time allow the viewer to have their own experience. However, this is never done in a dogmatic way, which interests me a lot. You are never reading a script.
LB: Finally who or what is exciting you in the art world right now ?
MS: I spent my summer in Tokyo and very much enjoyed exploring its art scene- both museums and small artist run spaces- and I look forward to following that remotely until I go back.
LB: Thank you very much for your time Maria.
An archive of Maria’s exhibitions can be seen at mariastenfors.com