A: We had to find an idea that was broad enough to have a very diverse collection, but still we wanted to achieve the goal of telling a story to the audience. Sid and I both felt that people don’t connect easily to art. They sometimes find it difficult to express their aesthetic judgment when they approach an artwork because they might not feel self-confidant or cultivated enough. So one of the first goals of The Public House of Art was to create a narrative that could bring together artists whose artworks don’t need a huge deal of explanation. The Awesome was the perfect theme for this because it is not about intellectual interpretation, but about perception. The theme is about vision, about seeing something and reacting to it. The Awesome is about being surprised, shocked or moved, the basic human emotions that people feel when they see an artwork.
A: We went through different writing processes and went through all the layers of the theme, from the more intellectual side to the more communicative side. We brainstormed on how we could tell our story in a funny way that would appeal to the public of any social background or age. We tried to come at it from all angles so that we could slowly fine-tune everything and find something that was complete, with many different facets and layers to it.
A: When Sid approached me he already had a network of artists that he knew from his history as an art collector. So we slowly built both the network of The Public House of Art and the tools to reach talented artists from all over the world. We reviewed portfolios from different points of view: artistic, technical and communicative. We wanted to show some works that had more of an edge to them, that we knew would have a strong impact, and some others that were more meditative and just aesthetically beautiful. We also wanted a variety of artists in different stages of their careers. Some fresh young talents with great visions, as well as more established artists that have been displayed in major museums. We believe that talent should be supported, regardless of their age or background. The result is a selection of artists that are very different from each other but still make a consistent exhibition.
A: I think it was the best part of my job. Everybody was contributing to something that was just born. Everybody had their input, but at the same time, everybody was humble enough to listen to everyone else’s opinions. I believe that great things come from collective effort. We all have different backgrounds, and it didn’t always go smoothly, but the most important aspect was that every member of the team had a common love of art.
A: A funny anecdote about my trip was that my credit card didn’t work for the first few days, so I had no money and survived on Chinese cigarettes and one coffee until I could unblock it. Also, I had to sneak Eric, his wife and this young girl who was translating for us into my hotel room because they wouldn’t let us film the interview anywhere else. So I had to secretly bring them to my small room, where the four of us were sitting on my bed whilst doing the interview. It was a memorable but funny situation.
A: I think that Barbara van den Berg has grown a lot in this process as an artist. She has created a unique style that is recognisable and can be broad. I feel that she has the potential to reach a high level as an artist. But I truly believe that all of the artists in the collection have great potential.
A: It would’ve been fun to have Marcel Duchamp in the collection. He would’ve given an interesting interpretation on the theme. Since The Public House of Art likes controversy and provocation as much as he did, I think it would’ve been very cool if he were still alive.
A: I think art should not be stolen. We have many examples of stolen art in the past and taken away from the public, preventing them from being seen anymore. That is tragic. But if I would really have to choose one, I would go to the Prado in Madrid and steal ‘The Garden of Earthly Delights’ by Hieronymus Bosch.
A: In this specific case, Sid’s input was very important, because he liked this visual motive. But actually I did grow up reading comic books, so I do like superheroes. It was almost natural that there were some works about them. This is because when you think of The Awesome today, and the fact that we have almost no mythology anymore, in some way comic book imagery is our contemporary mythology
A: ‘Hephaestus’ by Barbara van den Berg. He is very sympathetic and has a great style. I like the way he seems to have a lot of humour. I like humour. I feel a proximity to him, I like old people.
A: No hesitation, no doubt: Pistachio. It’s the flavour that makes you understand if an ice cream parlour is really good.
A: My hope is that there will be many Public Houses of Art around the world, with many curators and many teams, and that this cultural network will grow. I feel that The Public House of Art can achieve this and become truly global.
A: Yes, it was a hell of a ride.