Publish date: 29/04/2011

5 Pieces Gallery, Bern

Interview with Mr. Ammann, gallery director

Zoom: Could you describe the scope of the 5 Pieces Gallery?
Mr. Ammann: The 5 Pieces Gallery represents a select group of emerging and established artists and is commited to introducing groundbreaking art. We try to offer an original and multidisciplinary programme, showing artists from all horizons to an international audience. Our clients are as heterogenous as our artists, we deliever the whole spectrum of clients from the poor art student up to the rich art collector, some are buying works to hang on their walls, others see a great investment in it and some just want to support young artists.

Zoom: As the 5 Pieces Gallery is mainly an online based gallery, where do you see the opportunities of the internet for art in general?
Mr. Ammann: The internet has been a facilitator in creating an art scene that acts and appeals globally. The internet has opened the doors for thousands of potential art enthusiasts. People who previously have never felt comfortable walking into an art gallery and asking about art have no problem doing so online.
I think the internet has been an amazing tool and catalyst in the development and communication of contemporary art. The speed of creative exchange and conversation is very radical. Art should be about debate and discussion, so that is a good thing.
Since the internet breaks down borders and allows easy communication with people on the other site of the globe, as a gallery it is becoming increasingly necessary to be well-accessible online.
Some days we have more than 2000 visitors to our site—much more than we would expect in a static space, so the internet is a very powerful tool to expose great artworks and inspire the public. Our online gallery should be a place of discovery for everyone.
In any case, I could not conceive the current state of the art world without the internet, which is the main source of influence for most artists and gallerists I know. It gives us access to a wider group of artists and clients. I see hundreds of art works online almost every day, and the Net has definitely made access to contemporary art more democratic and with our affordable prices, we also want to make the diffusion of contemporary art more democratic. We’re developing a kind of universal art culture, which of course is a fantastic way to unite and promote the best in human nature, but I’m curious to see how the internet will ultimately affect individuality and the development of art in general.

Zoom: What’s your story, Mr. Ammann?
Mr. Ammann: I’ve been into all sorts of art since I was a teenager growing up in Berne, Switzerland. While at school, I spent most of my time painting on the streets and visiting the local photography school. Art was a natural way to express some of the things I needed to push forward. At university, I began to deal with art from another approach, working as an art critic and photo editor for a newspaper. What drives me today is my passion for the love of art, my passion to find buried treasures and move art forward. I want to see artists grow and give them faith and an opportunity to expand. And I want people to see the amazing quality and diversity of the works of young artists and photographers. And, finally, I want clients to be able to just relax and enjoy what’s on their walls.

Zoom: Pure curiosity, where does the name “5 Pieces” comes from?
Mr. Ammann: There is no long story behind it. As our annual group show is our main event and all affiliated artists are invited to show 5 pieces of art at the event, that’s where the name comes from. The annual group show takes place every December in Berne, the capital of Switzerland.

Zoom: Your focus is on emergent artists, isn’t it?
Mr. Ammann: In the first instance we’re looking for artists who are unique in their approach. I believe that if such unique young artists are consistent with their work and career and if the greatness and effectiveness are there, then in due course and on the merits of the work, it will be recognised and will take its proper place no matter what type of art it is. History shows the greatest artists are those who can’t be classified. Important artworks are most often an individual’s uncompromising vision. They’re often found to be difficult or are misunderstood at the time, only to be recognised later as having something valuable to offer. I’m sure any hard-working artist who has passion, talent and his or her own ideas will get noticed some day. So overall we are looking for artists who have a solid vision and original style.
You’ll find known and unknown names on our roster, but all of our artists have a thread and synergy that run through their work. It’s the energy and life in the work we look for, not the name. We are not looking for the next big hot sexy thing in the art world, we just want to support solid high-quality art. Quality is always the main driver of consignment.

Zoom: Where do you find artists and what is your metric of selection?
Mr. Ammann: First and foremost the artist and the individual work must appeal to me personally. It’s a dangerous philosophy to follow trends or, worse still, a mathematical calculation in the hope of making money. Whether we like it or not, art is emotional, it evokes an emotional reaction. After the initial spark, the originality of the work is essential. It’s also important to us that our line-up features artists who come from a variety of countries and cultures, providing diversity in content, perspective and style.
Furthermore, since we see art as an important means of social and political engagement, the gallery has a desire to challenge the viewers, social norms and itself. So it’s not only about technique, beauty or understanding of light and figure, it’s more about how well the art mirrors the society of its day.
In the end, I think good art stands out on its own merits, and we still like to believe that this reigns supreme. We ignore and avoid the hype, we judge the work with our eyes and hearts and not our ears. Popularity should not be confused with importance.
However, our purpose is to showcase the very best artistic talent the world has to offer, so we put a lot of effort into the search for new talent. It is imporant to us to show them from the beginning honestly how we work and what we have to offer, and be supportive rather than prescriptive in approach.

Zoom: How do you promote your artists?
Mr. Ammann: Being an artist is a very hard job – there’s no security at all in an artist’s life, especially as a young artist, so we are trying to promote our artists as best as we can. We feel strongly about giving back as much as possible and lending support to younger artists. It is also important to us to care about the artists and understand their art works deeply.
We focus a big part of our promotional efforts communicating with people who run blogs and smaller websites we find interesting, and with the internet becoming an astonishingly effective marketing tool, we also use most channels of online marketing.

Zoom: The price of the prints are well affordable; do you think that reasonable prices allow for the birth of new collectors and a good new market?
Mr. Ammann: Pricing is a very interesting aspect for us as the young art world, specially what is called urban art, is like the traditional art world on stereoids. Everything is happening faster. Artist’s prices are rising at an unprecedented rate. With the increase in price points and demand for the work of young artists, this evolution is putting young art in front of more established art collectors.
On the other hand,the art we’re showing has enormous crossover potential with young collectors. I feel that many of today’s collectors of contemporary art are looking for artists and works which speak to their generation. And the affordable prices allow us to cultivate a younger collector base as well. The most important aspect to me is that art be tangible and not elitist. I try not to get caught up with status, rank and categorisation.
An important aspect about the internet is also that it promotes transparency in pricing, which is necessary with the market being global as it is. It makes collectors feel safer when aquiring pieces nowadays. Through the internet there are so many artists we all look at, but just a few who earn big money, and just because their prices are high, doesn’t mean they are any good, it’s really up to the next generation to decide what is still relevant in the future.
But at the end of the day, I don’t care about the market. I would offer the same pieces whether they sold or not. Happily there are a lot of people out there who like the same stuff we like, so we do very well. And it’s great to go with your gut instinct and go with something because you love it. It hasn’t done me any harm until now.

Zoom: What are your future projects?
Mr. Ammann: We believe there are constantly new emerging talents who do well, so we’ll keep looking out for them. The next future project is our annual art contest at selected art schools in Europe. At our annual group show in December we will combine at least five art students with established artists to offer these young artists the opportunity to show their talent to a wider public and to keep the roster fresh, exciting and up-to-date. And we’re planning to do more solo shows with young artists in the future.
Next, we’re looking forward to the release of a beautiful new series by photographers including Guido Argentini, Alfonso Zubiaga, Jaime Ibarra, Eliot Lee Hazel and the ArtParis Showdown winner Ela Zubrowska.

© Jaime Ibarra, Lucy In Disguise
High Quality Print on archival paper
Signed and numbered by the artist
Print is sold with a certificate of authenticity
Edition: 7
Size: 80x80 cm

Image not available

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