Wet Paint in the Wild: Dealer Diego Diez Hunts for Future Art Stars at a Top Residency Program During Amsterdam Art Week

The owner and director of Amsterdam's Diez Gallery brings us along for a week in his life.

Its always so complicated to decide what to do with the last pic of the roll so I decided to take a rare photo of me wearing my own merch after a long week. Credits to my neighbor artist Bronwen Jones.

Welcome to Wet Paint in the Wild, an extension of Annie Armstrong’s gossip column wherein she gives art-world insiders a disposable camera so they can give us a peek into their corner of the madcap industry.

I have never been to Amsterdam myself, but when I do, one of the first places I’ll go is Diez Gallery, an art space in the heart of the city with a vibrant, international roster. Its founder, Diego Diez, combined his experience in art advising and nonprofits to create the unique gallery, which is currently hosting a group show of work by the likes of Mary Heilmann, Sam Lasko, Sands Murray-Wassink, and W. Rossen, among others. I handed Diez a camera (well, not really, I told him to go buy one from his local gemakswinkel) during Amsterdam’s art week. Take it away, Diego…

The Amsterdam Art Week is the week when Amsterdam feels truly international. Curators come into town and galleries and project spaces try to program their best shows. It has now been moved from November to May, which helps when you want to arrive dry to events.

In a very Dutch style, the week started with a symposium. My friend Maru Asmellash talked about his art center in one of the most underdeveloped neighborhoods of the city. I love hanging out with Maru, who is also one of the owners of The New Originals [clothing brand] and always has time to help you with anything he can. A truly kind soul.

Another of the speakers was Kévin Bray, one of the most exciting artists coming out of Amsterdam. Despite his constant efforts to move away from the digital artist cliche, they asked him about NFTs.… Do not miss Kévin’s upcoming show at The Hole!

On Wednesday, I snuck into the press preview of the Rijksakademie. This is one of my favorite tricks if you want to just focus on the work and not the chatting. I was very happy I could spend some time with these great paintings by Anh Trần.

Another favorite was Selma Selman, who was showing some works that will go afterward to documenta 15. The Rijksakademie is probably the best residency program in the world, offering two years of studio space, housing, a stipend, and fantastic studio visits that make the artists working here some of the most promising of their generation.

In the evening, I went to the opening of Mutter, one of the many artist-run spaces in the city, the true soul of Amsterdam and where you can usually find the most exciting and daring proposals. There I bumped into two of my favorite artists (and friends) in town: Clémence Lollia Hilaire, current resident at De Ateliers, and Ivan Cheng, who alongside his artistic practice runs a space called bologna.cc.

On Thursday, I usually sit in my recently opened gallery. I am a bit out of the center, but it is worth the opportunity to be in one of the few Brutalist buildings in the Netherlands.

Sjoerd Kloosterhuis, director of Rozenstrat, came all the way to check out the paintings of W. Rossen (I am only 15 mins away from the center, but for the people of Amsterdam that is far). These need to be experienced in person! In the back, a Mary Heilmann.

Before I opened my gallery, I used to organize exhibitions in my living room for five years. I love these moments when natural light enters the gallery.

Another gallery with beautiful light is Grimm. I do not always like what they show, but they definitely have one of my favorite spaces in Amsterdam.

Before heading to dinner with a client, I quickly checked out the opening of Olga Balema and Win McCarthy at Fons Welters. In the photo is Nick Terra, who for the past few years has been the director of the gallery and brought a refreshing program to Amsterdam! Thanks for your effort, Nick!

For dinner, I usually head to Domenica, a fantastic Italian in the Noordermarkt where I always have a seat. I usually like to seat at the bar to see what Flavio and Stefano are up to.

Flavio used to work at Toscanini, Amsterdam’s classic Italian restaurant where the best collectors in town have their weekly reservations. A few years ago, he decided to open his own thing and many of them moved their reservations over. It’s not to be missed if you are in town. Say my name and Flavio will treat you well.

On Thursday night, the Amsterdam Art Week organized celebratory drinks at the Hotel De L’Europe, a luxurious hotel founded on the remains of a late medieval fortress. There, I found mega-collector Julia Stoschek, who was in town for a screening of some videos from her collection. Here she is with her curator in Berlin, Lisa Long.

When they saw the flash popping off, some of the locals also wanted to be in Wet Paint! From left to right: Julia Stoschek, Willem Sijthoff, Nina Folkersma, and Janneke Dreesmann.

On Friday, I took a tour through some private collections in Amsterdam. Sadly for your eyes, the owners of this fantastic collection, which had some of the hottest names mixed with established blue-chip artists, declined to have photos published of their pied-à-terre. Instead, I snapped one of their beautiful courtyard garden designed by Piet Oudolf.

It is always good to visit Rijksakademie twice, in case you missed something. Someone who knows that well is uber-present connoisseur Alain Servais, who was in town briefly and almost exclusively for this. I found him in the hidden installation of Polina Medvedeva. Alain knows, and knows well.

Saturdays are usually a calm day in the gallery, so I was just walking around thinking about which work could deserve an individual shot for this column. I did not have to think a lot, as I am in love with this example by Rasoul Ashtary. So excited that Rasoul will be the first solo in the gallery in September!

It’s always so complicated to decide what to do with the last pic of the roll, so I decided to take a rare photo of me wearing my own merch after a long week. Credit to my neighbor. artist Bronwen Jones.


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