As KAB Gallery celebrates another year at Terrigal and online, we reflect and consider the current flux in art trends and gallery practices. When Josh and I began planning KAB Gallery we both knew that taking the art gallery completely online was an absolute must. At that point in time it seemed the art scene in Australia had become a little stale – the perfect time to be disruptive by ignoring the current art gallery etiquette and trends. It was important to do everything that no one else was. My own art education, and in particular art curatorship training, seemed to focus solely on the exhibition of art in the “white cube” – a concept that has its place but can lead to boring and even intimidating gallery spaces. I was disappointed by the repetitive curatorial styles within the contemporary art world. It appeared that most contemporary art galleries were clammering to show art – something so exciting and vivid – in a space so deliberately comparable to a morgue. We needed a new space drenched in natural light. Terrigal beachfront was perfect!
After initially starting my art career as an artist, as I moved further into the administration and organisation of the art industry I discovered how out-of-touch some galleries were with the needs of both their artists and clients. To me, selling art is comparable to match-making. You need to help each client meet the art of their dreams and/or help each artwork find its perfect space.
Josh and I both wanted to create a gallery space where this could happen in a physical space as well as a global online platform. Afterall, why can’t an artlover in Finland or New York meet their dream Australian artwork? This is how KAB Gallery became one of the few galleries through the world to exhibit our full collection on our website for purchase. We wanted to make great art accessible – so we aimed to have original museum exhibited artist’s art available for living spaces.
The idea of facilitating conversations about our art is also at the heart of what KAB Gallery does, via both discussions within the gallery and on our social media networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram). This was a completely new proposition for most Australian art galleries, many of which were/are still run by dealers considering retirement rather than the digital age. It shocked us that online marketing strategies such as email marketing were still so cutting edge even for some of the most progressive spaces (and possibly still are). Why would we want to not want to follow our clients and artists into the zone where they regularly like to hang out and interact; the place where people can honestly “like” the art that they like? With those questions in mind, KAB Gallery was empowered to go ahead and share. While KAB Gallery is a relatively small and humble physical space, we hope that it is comfortable for everyone to view and find their art love – even if they are shy, they can visit the gallery at home online.
This week I had the pleasure of e-meeting Avant Arte / @avant.arte after DM via instagram, like-minded art lovers on the other side of the world. Last month, @avant.arte (instagram) shared one of KAB Gallery’s popular artists, Sally West, beach paintings. Over 16K @avant.arte followers instantly “liked” the post! It was so exciting to see so many people engaging with an artwork on a global level. The conversation about this artwork swiftly grew with hundreds of reposts and comments. @avant.arte has an amazing international audience of 330K instagrammers who follow their eclectic range of art posts. I am one of their biggest fans!
Avant Arte was founded by two creative minds, Christian and Curtis, in the Netherlands. They too understand the match-making process for art and art lovers. They have developed an impressive app which functions as a post-modern Tinder for art. You can “swipe, discover, like, connect, chat, buy and sell.” In the short time since it launched it has hit the list of the top 3 apps in Europe with 25K + downloads! They also lead a great platform on instagram and twitter for art conversations, a global reach of more than 16million!
Christian and Curtis have introduced themselves to me as being relatively new to the art industry and explained that avant.arte started as a personal research project to identify the top artists of their generation. In doing this they have progressed on a mission to make these top artists accessible with their app. We think they have certainly nailed it! Their remarkable statistics, calibre of followers and widespread online conversations speak for themselves.
“…We started this Instagram about 2 years ago. We never really had an interest in Art until Jay-Z putted out his song ‘Picasso Baby’ We heard all kind of old artist and we were wondering who are the artists from our generation. So we started searching online what we liked and build up a document with work we would like to buy one day. This is how we created our interest in Art. Along the way we noticed we had so many artworks that we better start sharing them with the world and we also noticed we never visited a gallery because it feels like it has a boundary. So we created the Instagram account to share upcoming artist and art we loved. It became a success but the boundary was still there. That why we started our application where you can easily swipe through artworks…”
Check out the promo movie:
When scrolling through their instagram posts, it’s great to see the overwhelming response to the work of KAB Gallery artist, Sally West. Her famous beach series was represented by a small 45x45cm study which gained more than 16K likes and countless shares/reposts into various networks. The second painting they posted was an even smaller study which gained more than 28K likes and shares/reposts. Sally West is truly a world-wide sensation!
With the Internet now being an integral part of everyday life, it is often expected that all businesses have an online presence. However when it comes to something as visually important as art, it’s not just a matter of adding some images to your website in order to gain an online following.