Two More Beloved Galleries Bite the Dust as Copenhagen’s David Risley and Brooklyn’s Real Fine Arts Shutter
"I never made exhibitions to sell art," Risley, a mainstay of his city's art scene, said.
In a heartfelt letter to artists, colleagues, and friends today, veteran gallerist David Risley announced plans to close his gallery after 18 years to focus on other ventures. Risley first opened his eponymous gallery in London’s East End in 2000 and relocated to Copenhagen in 2009.
Over the years, Risley worked with major contemporary artists including Jake and Dinos Chapman, Alex Da Corte, and Dexter Dalwood. Risley also co-organized the Zoo Art Fair in London, a now-defunct hub for up-and-coming artists. He was also known to organize pick-up soccer games during art fairs.
In an email, he told artnet News: “I’ll do everything I can to help the artists and they’ve said they’ll do everything they can to help me. I’ll help them find new galleries. I’ll help with ongoing museum shows and commissions. I’ll help find them new ones. We will continue working together without the gallery wherever and whenever possible.”
Risley is not the only dealer to announce his closure today. The Brooklyn gallery Real Fine Arts also confirmed to artnet News that it is closing its doors. In a curt message that could not be more different from Risley’s, the gallery sent an email to friends and artists today that said simply: “Real Fine Arts is closed.” The space, founded in 2008 by Tyler Dobson and Ben Morgan-Cleveland, presented work by artists including Caitlin MacBride, Lena Henke, and Sam Pulitzer. Reached by artnet News, Morgan-Cleveland declined to offer additional comment.
In his own letter, Risley focused on the importance of the artist in the art-world ecosystem, saying: “Without artists there would be no art fairs, no sponsors, no collectors, no consultants, no critics, no magazines, no museums, no transport companies, no gala dinners. No Art World.”
Moving forward, Risley plans to focus on “Funkisfabriken,” an old factory building in Sweden that he plans to convert into a multi-use cultural center. He describes it as “an audacious project to realign art, food, business and innovation with sustainability. Funkisfabriken will include a zero-waste restaurant, exhibition spaces and sculpture gardens by the lake.”
The current show at the gallery , titled “Furniture by Artists: Chair, Chair, Chair, Lamp, Table, Bed, Sofa” will be its last. It has now been extended until the end of May.
Read the full text of Risley’s letter below.
I have decided to close the gallery, after 18 years, so that I can focus on developing Funkisfabriken in Sweden as a centre for research in sustainability.
As a gallerist I have always sold art to make exhibitions, I never made exhibitions to sell art.
I opened David Risley Gallery 18 years ago in the East End of London and moved to Copenhagen 9 years ago. I have had the huge pleasure of working with artists who started as and remain friends and artists who started as heroes who I’m now lucky to count among my closest friends. I have just spent a very emotional day calling them all to tell them that the gallery will be closing. They reminded me once again why we did what we did. They were sad about the news but without fail, overwhelmingly kind, supportive and optimistic that we can make a bright future. We have grown up together and traveled the world together. We will continue to work and play together in new forms going forward. I am still working with them directly on upcoming museum shows, commissions, sales and other projects, so don’t hesitate to get in touch now. The artists and their work have made the whole adventure a joy.
I recently had the misfortune to hear a thank you speech at an art fair which thanked everybody involved except the artists. We need to remember that without artists there would be no art fairs, no sponsors, no collectors, no consultants, no critics, no magazines, no museums, no transport companies, no gala dinners. No Art World. It has felt recently, with the ever increasing push toward the professionalisation of the art world that the least welcome person in the room is the artist. This is to forget that it is the professional duty of the artist to question, ridicule, provoke and cajole. It is unprofessional of an artist to be a corporate patsy. Especially when everybody in the room is getting paid except the artist.
My reason for closing the gallery now is to be able to dedicate my time and energy to Funkisfabriken, the huge old factory building I have in Sweden. Funkisbabriken is an audacious project to realign art, food, business and innovation with sustainability. Funkisfabriken will include a zero waste restaurant, exhibition spaces and sculpture gardens by the lake. We are preparing to build research kitchens and labs for cross disciplinary research into new materials, textiles, packaging, architecture, with an aim to change the way businesses work. The project aims to enable and develop research which can achieve high impact results. It is a place where ideas will be front and centre. Where researchers, designers, artists, chefs and other innovators come together to share ideas in a beautiful environment in the Swedish forest with great food. I am very excited about starting this new project with the inspiring team of people and partners joining me on this new adventure. I look forward to inviting you to join us there as a guest in the near future.
Museums in London and Copenhagen have recently invited me to curate exhibitions and write catalogue texts for them. I am looking forward to having the chance to spend more time on opportunities to work closer to art and artists again.
Thank you to all the staff I’ve had the pleasure to work with. I watch with love and pride as they have gone on to start their own galleries, recording studios, run art fairs, logistics companies, museum curators, academics, musicians and artists and to continue being brilliant, engaged, wonderful people. Thank you all.
Thank you to all the museums, collectors, critics, truck drivers, money lenders, wall painters, drinks sponsors, bar tenders, performers, cleaners, lawyers, accountants, chefs, musicians, etc. who made it all possible.
The biggest thank you to the gallery artists.
I love you.
Jake and Dinos Chapman
Alex Da Corte
And to all the artists who have exhibited at David Risley Gallery
(bold = solo show)
Agnete Krigh Vinkler
Ane Mette Hol
Anna Fro Vodder
(founded by Susan Stenger.
Original members: Stenger, Angela Bulloch,
Cerith Wyn Evans, Tom Gidley, J. Mitch Flacko)
Bob & Roberta Smith
Captain Beefheart/Don Van Vliet
Carl Fredrik Hill
Cathrine Raben Davidsen
David Raymond Conroy
Ebbe Stub Wittrup
J. F. Willumsen
James Cauty (KLF)
Jessica Breitholtz Björk
Klaus Thejl Jacobsen
Marie Søndergaard Lolk
Morten Skrøder Lund
Pernille Kapper Williams
Peter Fillingham & Charlotte Moth
Sofie Bird Møller
T S Høegh
Tobias R Kirstein
Toke Tietze Mortensen
Willis Earl Beal
My sincere apologies if I missed anybody.
See you all down the road,
David Risley Gallery
Bispevej 29, København NV,
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